Expired: San Diego City Library Short Story Contest

The San Diego City Library, through its Local Author Program, shows robust support for local writing by sponsoring the annual Local Author Showcase, now its 52nd year.

The Short Story Contest is a continuation of that support, organized to shine a spotlight on local writers who write short stories. Most short stories remain unpublished due to the competitiveness of the business and the few rare opportunities offered by prestigious literary publications such as The New Yorker or Camera Obscura. Stories by authors who are not well known or firmly plugged in the literary scenes in New York or San Francisco rarely see the light of day.

Only 50 short stories will be accepted. Stories must not exceed 3,000 words. The submission period is March 1 – March 31. Registration will close after 50 submissions have been received.

Winning stories will be announced in May 2018, with a live reading performance of winning stories on May 25.

Short Story Contest Registration
(Online registration opens on March 1st)

Rules & Guidelines

  • All entries will be submitted online during the prescribed schedule set by the San Diego Public Library.
  • The contest is open to original, published, or unpublished stories.
  • Stories that have won and/or placed in other writing contests are ineligible.
  • Stories previously accepted in this contest in previous years are not eligible.
  • Simultaneous submissions are allowed.
  • Stories should be suitable for a general audience.
  • Only (1) story per author.


  • 1st Place – Publication on the website of the San Diego Public Library for one (1) month – and $300.00 first place award
  • 2nd Place – Announcement on the library website – and $125.00 second place award
  • 3rd Prize – Announcement on the library website – and $75.00 third place award
  • Honorable Mention – Announcement on library website – a Gift Certificate from the Library Shop independent bookstore located at the Central Library
  • Public reading of the top 4 winning stories at a special program honoring the winners

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SDPL Short Story Contest?

The Short Story Contest is a short fiction competition open to all writers residing in San Diego County. All genres of fiction are acceptable: literary, mystery and crime, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mixed-genre, and experimental.

What is the goal of the Short Story Contest?

The goal of the Short Story Contest is to nurture and foster local writing talent and to provide a platform for the promotion and publication of short form fiction in the area.

Who’s eligible to enter the Short Story Contest?

All writers in San Diego County 16 and over are eligible to enter the Short Story Contest. San Diego Public Library staff and members of affiliated organizations such as the San Diego Public Library Foundation, Friends of San Diego Public Library, and the Board of Library Commissioners are not allowed to participate in the contest.

How many short stories will be allowed to participate in the contest?

A maximum of 50 short stories will be accepted, based on a first come first served basis. Registration will automatically stop after the 50th author registers their manuscript.

Who will judge the Short Story Contest?

A Committee of Librarians with subject expertise in fiction, writing, publishing, and literary studies will judge the contest. Judging will be anonymous. When you enter the contest your story will be assigned a number. Judges will identify your story by title and number only.

Does it cost to enter in the Short Story Contest?

There’s no fee to participate in the Short Story Contest. However the public library is always in need of support from the community that it serves. To support the library please visit the website of the Friends of San Diego Public Library (link is external) and the San Diego Public Library Foundation. (link is external)

What is the deadline to enter the Short Story Contest?

The Short Story Contest submission form will be available online on March 1 and must be completed and uploaded by Friday, March 31, 2018.

How long can a short story be, and what other important rules are there?

The manuscript must be double spaced and not exceed 3,000 words. Stories over 3,000 words will be rejected without review. The manuscript must not have the author’s name anywhere in it. Pages must be numbered. The manuscript title must appear on every page. The manuscript must be saved as “Story Title-Author Name” (Ex: “Librarians in Love – Elsee Dewey”). Standard fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or Georgia in 12 point font size must be used.

For questions or further clarification regarding the rules and guidelines, please contact us at localauthor@sandiego.gov.

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