VU Short Story Prize for New Writers | ($8000)

vicuniExtended for one week: now closing Monday 18 June!

Judges: Michelle Cahill, Sarah Schmidt, Tom Clark and Jennifer Mills

About the prize

This annual competition encourages excellent and original short fiction by new writers of up to 3000 words in length. At a grand first prize of $6000, it is a coveted annual fiction award for new writers in Australia. There are also two runner-up prizes of $1000. All three winners will be published in the spring issue of Overland.

For the purposes of this competition, ‘new or emerging’ describes a writer who has published no more than one book with commercial distribution. (That is, writers who have no books, or who have published one book are eligible; writers with two books or more are ineligible. If you are the author of several chapbooks or books with small print runs, you can contact us to confirm eligibility: overland@vu.edu.au.)


Competition closes 11.59 pm, Monday 18 June 2018. Please read the entry guidelines below to confirm eligibility.

Entry fee: $12 for subscribers and $20 for non-subscribers. **Another option is to take out one of our special prize subscriptions: for $56, you get discounted entry to the competition and a one-year discounted subscription to Overland (includes four print issues and the daily online magazine, invitations to subscriber events, and other opportunities and giveaways).

You may also be interested to read the 2017 judges’ report and the winning stories. Or the 2016 judges’ report and the winning stories.

The judges

Michelle Cahill is a Sydney writer. Her short story collection Letter to Pessoa won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for New Writing. She has received prizes in poetry and fiction. She has written on race, interceptionality and cultural diversity.

Sarah Schmidt’s debut novel See What I Have Done emerged after stumbling across the case of Lizzie Borden by chance in a secondhand bookshop. Her research for the novel included spending several nights in the infamous Borden house. She also works as a Reading & Literacy Coordinator at a regional public library.

Tom Clark is a senior lecturer at Victoria University, Melbourne, and is president of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association. He is the author of Stay on Message: Poetry and Truthfulness in Political Speech (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2012). He has previously worked as a speechwriter for several Labor politicians.

Jennifer Mills is the fiction editor at Overland. Her latest novel, Dyschronia, is out through Picador.


  1. This is a prize for original pieces of short fiction written in English, up to 3000 words in length.
  2. Stories must be unpublished (including online) and not under consideration by other publishers.
  3. Stories that have won or are under consideration in other competitions are not eligible.
  4. The prize is for new and emerging writers. Entrants are eligible only if they have not, by the close of the competition, published more than one single-authored print book (in any genre or form) via a commercial publisher with effective national distribution – that is, distribution in all states. Writers who have published one book, or in multi-authored works, in self-published books or in exclusively electronic form are still eligible.
  5. Entrants must be citizens of Australia or New Zealand or have permanent resident status in Australia or New Zealand.
  6. Submissions will be processed electronically. Stories should be formatted at 1.5 line spacing and a minimum of 12 point font size.
  7. The competition will be judged anonymously. The author’s name must not appear on the manuscript or else the story will be disqualified.
  8. Multiple entries are acceptable, although each must be entered into the submission system separately and accompanied by the relevant fee.
  9. Students currently enrolled in or staff who work at Victoria University may enter free of charge by including their student or staff number with their entry. Otherwise, each entry must be accompanied by a fee of $20 or $12 for Overland subscribers.
  10. The winning entries will be published in Overland. Other entries may be considered for publication.
  11. The closing date is 11.59 pm, Monday 18 June 2018. Late entries will not be accepted.
  12. The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.

Enter the Overland Victoria University Prize for New and Emerging Writers as a:

new subscriber – $56

(Includes $12 entry fee and $44 subscription)
Writers can subscribe to Overland for one year (four issues) at a discounted rate, and enter the competition at the special subscriber rate. Take out a new subscription and enter the Overland VU Short Story Prize.


current subscriber – $12

Current Overland subscribers enter the competition at the special subscriber rate of $12. Current subscribers enter the competition here.


non-subscriber – $20

Entry to the competition for non-subscribers is $20. Non-subscribers enter the competition here.


Victoria University student or staff member – free

For students of Victoria University (in Melbourne, Australia), entry to the competition is free. Victoria University students and staff members can enter the competition here.


Image: Mario Mancuso / flickr