Emerging Writers Contest

The Dream Foundry Contest for Emerging Writers is an annual no submission fees contest with cash prizes! Every year our contest coordinator selects ten finalists from a pool of submissions from writers around the world. In addition to their cash prizes, winners get featured at Flights of Foundry, an annual convention where professionals from all over the industry come to discuss all things related to the speculative arts.

You can see a list of our past finalists and winners on our Winners Page.

First Place: $1000

Second Place: $500

Third Place: $200

Submissions are open from 17 April, 2023 through 18 June, 2023. That includes all time zones.


This contest is for writers who are relatively new to paid or incoming-earning publication of speculative short fiction in English. To be eligible for this contest, all five rules below must be true of you:

  • You have published a total of less than 4,000 words of paid or income-earning speculative fiction in English.
  • You have earned a total of less than USD 320 from those words.
  • You have never been nominated for any award listed here as a major award in speculative fiction.
  • You are not a previous winner of the Dream Foundry writing contest.
  • No AI, machine learning, or large language model tools were used in the story except for checking spelling and grammar.
Please note that you are on the honour system for judging your own eligibility. However, we may disqualify any entrants in order to uphold the spirit of this contest’s goals; such determinations of eligibility are decided by the Dream Foundry and are not open to debate or argument.


John Wiswell

John (@Wiswell) is a disabled writer who lives where New York keeps all its trees. He is a winner of the Nebula Award for Best Short Story and Locus Award for Best Novelette, Headshot of a smiling white man with a reddish-blond goatee, head jauntily tilted. He's wearing a burgundy collared shirt and dark blazer.and a finalist for the Hugo, World Fantasy, and British Fantasy awards for short fiction. His work has appeared in venues such as Tor.com, LeVar Burton Reads, Uncanny Magazine, Diabolical Plots, Lightspeed Magazine, Podcastle, Escape Pod, and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. His debut novel, SOMEONE YOU CAN BUILD A NEST IN, is due out from DAW Books in 2024.

Suzan Palumbo

Headshot of a brown woman with straight shoulder-length hair, assymmetrically parted on the right. She's wearng black and looking forward and level while the camera angle is slightly above her.Suzan Palumbo is a Trinidadian Canadian speculative fiction writer, two time Nebula Award finalist, editor, and cofounder of the Ignyte Awards. Her debut dark fantasy/horror short story collection, “Skin Thief: Stories” is forthcoming from Neon Hemlock in fall 2023. Her novella “Countess” will be published by ECW Press in 2024. Her writing has been featured in: The Dark Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, The Deadlands, Pseudopod, Podcastle, Anathema: Spec Fic from the Margins, and other venues. A full bibliography can be found at: suzanpalumbo.wordpress.com. She is officially represented by Michael Curry of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. She tweets @sillysyntax and posts on instagram @gothicsyntax. When she isn’t writing, she is usually sketching, listening to new wave, being a silly goth or wandering her local misty forests.


Julia Rios (they/them) is a queer, Latinx writer, editor, podcaster, and narrator whose fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in Latin American Literature Today, Lightspeed, and Goblin Fruit, among other places. Their editing work has won multiple awards including the Hugo Award. Julia is a co-host of This is Why We’re Like This, a podcast about the movies we watch in childhood that shape our lives, for better or for worse. They’ve narrated stories for Escape Pod, Podcastle, Pseudopod, and Cast of Wonders. They’re @omgjulia on Twitter.

Submission Guidelines

Submit one complete and finalized story of up to 10,000 words via our submission manager. Links to the submission manager will appear when submissions open.

All entries are final. No revisions are accepted.

No multiple submissions (do not send more than one story.)

Your submission must be previously unpublished at the time of submission, but simultaneous submissions (submitting the story to us while also submitting elsewhere) is allowed.

Entries can be from any country.

All entries must be original prose works in English. Plagiarism, poetry, song lyrics, or stories that utilize characters or settings from another person’s works will not be considered.

The manuscript should be in standard manuscript format and should be titled and numbered on every page, but the author’s name MUST BE DELETED from the manuscript file to facilitate fair judging.

Please Don't Send

We are looking for short speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, weird fiction, etc.) Please don’t send us stories that have no speculative element (mainstream, contemporary, romance, westerns, historical fiction etc.)
Sexual and adult themed stories are allowed. Please don’t send us erotica or gratuitous depictions of violence, sexual assault, or abuse.

Don’t send novels or non-standalone novel excerpts, screenplays, poetry, non-fiction or works written for children.


Send all questions to writing.contest@dreamfoundry.org


The submission period for the 2023 contest has closed.