2014 OWFI Contest Rules


The annual OWFI contest is open only to paid OWFI members and full-time students. For information on joining OWFI, see the Membership section of the web site.

The contest offers cash prizes in 29 unpublished manuscript categories, and trophies in 4 published book categories. Unpublished manuscript prizes are $50 for first place, $35 for second place, and $20 for third place in each of the 29 categories. All entries are judged by published authors, agents, editors, or other publishing professionals. Judges are asked to provide feedback on each entry, either by completing scoresheets or by making written comments.

For each entry, contestants must include a self-addressed envelope (9 x 12 or larger for unpublished manuscripts), and an official OWFI cover sheet. Contestants must pay careful attention to format and word length. To facilitate fair judging, entrants’ names MAY NOT appear on the manuscript.

Entries, entry fee, and official entry form must be postmarked on or before February 1, 2014. Contestants are urged to mail entries at least two weeks before the deadline to allow time for any rule violations to be corrected. Mail entry form and fee to the General Contest Chair at the address listed on the entry form. Mail each individual entry, with cover sheet, to the appropriate category chair (addresses are on the website and in the newsletter).

Please read all rules carefully before entering!

Please review the procedures for entering the contest electronically here.

For snail mail entries, download the entry form here.


1. Entrants must be paid-up members of OWFI or full-time students. Students must provide verification of student status. Membership dues are $20 per year for affiliate club members and $25 per year for members-at-large.

2. No manuscript that has won a cash prize (1st, 2nd or 3rd) in a previous OWFI contest may be entered again — EVER.

3. Contestants who win first place in an OWFI contest category may not enter that same category the following year.

4. Unpublished entries must be unaccepted for publication at the time of submission. Scripts cannot ever have been optioned. (If accepted by a publisher after entry, the submission will be considered valid.) Works that have been posted on a blog, web site, or other online venue, except works posted for critique purposes, are considered published and are not eligible to be entered in Unpublished Manuscript Categories 1-29.

5. Books entered in Published Book Categories 30-33 must have a copyright date of 2013. If submitted via snail mail, e-books must be printed in hard copy format. Print books and e-books may be submitted via electronic entry as a PDF file. All snail-mail entries should be sent to the appropriate Category Chair along with an SASE

6. Judges may not enter the category that they are judging.

7. Category Chairs may not enter the category they chair.

8. If entries are co-authored, all members of the writing team must be OWFI members. The team will be considered a single entrant and must pay a separate entry fee for their co-authored entries apart from any fees they pay for individual entries. Published anthologies and compilations of work by multiple authors entered in the Trophy Award categories are considered co-authored entries.

9. Persons, whether entering as a team or an individual, may enter a category only once.

10. No manuscript may be entered in more than one category.


11. Entrants must pay a $20 NONREFUNDABLE entry fee, which covers administrative costs and awards. This entitles participants to enter as many categories as they want (see #8-10 above).

12. Manuscripts must be submitted to the appropriate Category Chair.

13. Entries must be postmarked by February 01, 2014. OWFI is not responsible for entries lost or delayed in the mail. The deadline will not be extended due to inclement weather.

14. All unpublished manuscript entries must be mailed flat, no folds. Folded manuscripts or manuscripts in envelopes smaller than 9" x 12" will be disqualified. Published books should be mailed in an envelope the correct size for the book.




15. All unpublished manuscripts must be editor-ready. This includes the following:

  • Typed or printed on one side of 8½" x 11" white paper, with 1" margins on all sides. Photocopies and computer printouts are allowed, but must be clear and easy to read.
  • Double spaced. (Exceptions: Poetry and book synopses may be single spaced. Spacing for book outlines, overviews, and tables-of-contents should follow industry standard.)
  • Place a header at the top of all pages except Page 1, listing the title and page number.
  • Use an easy-to-read 12-point font such as Times Roman or Courier that results in approximately 250 words per page (about 25 lines per page). Manuscripts using small print which violate these conditions will be disqualified. Fancy fonts other than italics are not allowed.
  • Play, film, or TV scripts should follow industry-standard formats.

For more information on manuscript formatting, consult a recent edition of Writer’s Market (available at most libraries), or search “Manuscript Format” online.

16. For ALL ENTRIES in Unpublished Manuscript categories 1-29 (books, short works, and poetry): In the upper right hand corner of the first page, type the category number. Beneath the category number (upper right hand corner of the first page) type one of the following:

  • Number of lines (for poetry entries)
  • Number of pages entered (for book-length prose entries)
  • Word count for short works of prose (picture books, short stories, articles, etc.). Calculate using word processor word count or average 10 words per line, 25 lines per page.

For multi-genre categories (see category descriptions), it is highly recommended that entrants note the specific genre in the upper right-hand corner below the word count or page count.

17. Entries over the maximum length or under the minimum length will be disqualified.

18. No author’s name, pen name or other author identification may appear on any manuscript page. Do not submit a manuscript in which your name is blacked out, whited out, cut out or covered with tape.

19. A completed copy of the 2014 Official Cover Sheet must be attached to each submission with a paper clip (do not staple). THIS IS FOR SNAIL MAIL ONLY - NOT NEEDED FOR ELECTRONIC ENTRIES. The sheet must include: Category name, manuscript title, name of club, author’s name, address and phone number. If not affiliated with any OWFI club, check Member-at-Large box.

20. All entries must include a self-addressed envelope. For unpublished manuscripts, the envelope must be no smaller than 9" x 12". For published books, the envelope should be appropriately sized to fit the book. If you plan to pick up your entries at the conference, you may omit postage, but the self-addressed envelope is required. Use your own name and address for both addressee and return address on these envelopes. Paperclip the return envelope to each entry. Entries without the proper return envelope will be disqualified and destroyed. Entries without return postage which are not picked up at the conference will be destroyed.


  • Entries or entry forms/fees postmarked after the February 01, 2014 deadline.
  • Contestants or entries fail to meet the Eligibility Requirements (see above).
  • Unpublished manuscript entries folded or mailed in envelopes smaller than 9" x 12" (See EXCEPTION for Published Book entries in Rule #14).
  • Entries sent to the General Contest Chair instead of the Category Chair, or sent to the wrong Category Chair, though authors may resubmit before the February 1 deadline.
  • Any manuscript that is not “Editor-Ready”
  • Handwritten manuscripts.
  • Manuscripts which use smaller type that allows more than 250 words on a double-spaced page (approximate).
  • Entries over the maximum length or under the minimum length.
  • Entries that contain any author identification (name, pen name, byline, etc.) any place other than the coversheet.
  • Entries without the proper return envelope (these will also be destroyed).
  • Trophy Award (Published Book) entries with a copyright date other than 2013.

Any manuscript found not to be the original work of an entrant. The Executive Board or its designated committee will screen all winning entries.