With the deadline for The Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award (April 30) fast approaching, we thought it timely to let you know what queries we have been receiving – and, more importantly, how we have responded to them. For more details about the award including entry guidelines and instructions on how to submit, click here.

We have also been putting together a series Q&As with Spineless Wonders’ authors who have published short story collections. The first two of these are now available on Tablo. Kate Liston-Mills’ interview ranges across of number of issues related to writing about place and about real people and events. Read it here. Meanwhile, Julie Chevalier shares some thoughts on how to organise stories into a collection. Read it here. Coming up are interviews with Sam-George Allen on blending fiction and non-fiction, with Maree Dawes on the verse novel form and Richard Holt on combining short stories and microfiction into a collection.


We received many questions, submitted online and in person, for the Information Session with award judge, Carmel Bird and publisher, Bronwyn Mehan at the State Library of Victoria on Thursday, March 1. Thanks to Melissa O’Donovan for help in compiling these FAQs.

  1. Will the winning entries be published in print as well as ebook format?

The three finalists will be published in digital form as part of the prize for the award. Any further print publication will be subject to further discussion with the publisher.

  1. Can I include illustrations in my submission?

Yes, audio and video mp4, and URLs can all be included in the submission as well as the text.

  1. Will you accept a collection of microfiction?

Yes. And while the word count for microfiction submissions may be much less than the maximum allowed, the submission should still be substantial, that is, close to a minimum of 15-20,000 words.

  1. What if I plan to enter my work in another award being judged at the same time as The Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award?

It is acceptable to submit a collection of work which includes some content which has been previously published or has previously attracted awards (see #9 in Guidelines below). But  if the work you submit wins any other prize, is accepted for publication, or is self-published AFTER submission, then you should notify Spineless Wonders at info[at]shortaustralianstories[dot]com[dot]au immediately. In any of these circumstances, your submission will be deemed ineligible for the award and will be withdrawn from the judging process.

  1. Will the winning submissions be able to be purchased by libraries and borrowed out as ebooks?

A: Yes. It is part of the publishing agreement with Spineless Wonders that ebooks will be available at online bookstores and online distributors, including libraries and other suppliers.

  1. Are all genre types accepted?

A: All prose forms are acceptable, including non-fiction prose.  You could, for example, include short stories and reflective essays. For examples, see My Hearts Are Your Hearts by Carmel Bird, My Life & Other Fictions by Michael Giacometti and the anthology, Cracking The Spine: Ten short Australian stories and how they were written, ed by Julie Chevalier and Bronwyn Mehan. You may also submit hybrid collections which include both fiction and non-fiction. For example, see I Put A Spell On You by Sam-George Allen. The award is not open to submissions comprised only of poetry.

  1. Does a submission that includes various media have an advantage over a written text?

A: ‘The writing and the writing style – the excitement of the writing – is what matters, as with any short story competition.’ CARMEL BIRD, competition judge.

  1. What if I include some published stories in my submission?

A: It is perfectly fine for you to submit previously published work. ‘It would be really nice, however, if some of the submission, some of the stories, are not yet published. It’s thrilling for the publisher to have the opportunity to be the first to publish the work.’ CARMEL BIRD, competition judge

  1. Do you have to describe in your submission, what has been previously published?

A: Yes, the information about what text has been published (or won awards) and where, can be included in the cover letter or as notes in the text.

  1. Will the judge, Carmel Bird, be reading every entry?

A: ‘Yes! I’m reading everything. I’m responsible for the judging and I don’t want to miss anything that is brilliant.’ CARMEL BIRD, competition judge

  1. What ‘rating’ should the text have? What audience are we aiming for?

A: In the terms and conditions it states you must be over 18 years of age; Spineless Wonders is not a children’s publisher but a publisher for adult readers. As a guide, you can check out what Spineless Wonders has already published.

  1. In terms of layout, are there specific requirements?

A: The ebook layout will be arranged by the publisher. You do not need to set out a Table of Contents for the collection, a simple list of story titles will suffice. ‘Bear in mind that you are submitting a manuscript to another human who is expected to understand it. Choose a readable typeface, 1.5 space, decent margins.’  CARMEL BIRD, competition judge

  1. Can you submit more than one entry?

A: Yes.

  1. How long will the long list be?

A: It will come down to quality. It’s the first year of the competition and it’s the first of it’s kind, so we’re looking forward to seeing what is submitted.

  1. Will any of the submissions, especially the longlist, receive any feedback?

A: ‘No, there will be no feedback provided from the judge. However, as part of our partnership with Tablo and State Library Victoria, the longlisters will be profiled on each of these websites. We believe this is a way of showcasing the work, encouraging writing, and supporting writers.’ CARMEL BIRD, competition judge

Do you have another question? Email info[at]shortaustralianstories[dot]com[dot]au

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