We are thrilled to call for submissions to the 2021 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award. Now in its fourth year, the award is for short story collections up to 30,000 words in length. The award includes cash prize amounts of $3000 for the winner  and $1000 for two runners-up as well as world-wide digital publication of all three winning entries as part of our  Capsule Collections series.

The judge for the 2020 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award is MOYA COSTELLO.

General submissions, click here. Concession submissions, click here

Moya Costello‘s four books are short fiction (Kites in Jakarta and Small Ecstasies) and short novels (The Office as a Boat and Harriet Chandler). She’s been awarded arts grants and fellowships; has writing in many journals and anthologies, four from Spineless Wonders; a PhD in Creative Writing; and is an adjunct lecturer, Southern Cross University.

‘The Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award recognises the distinct literary voice and style of established Australian author, Carmel Bird, and the changing nature of literary publishing in a time of mobile-device usage. Carmel Bird commenced her publication history with a collection of short stories. She went on to publish many novels, and works of creative nonfiction, but always returned to the short form. I come from a feminist, experimental tradition, and recognise in Bird a writer who takes risks in her practice. Spineless Wonders is one of the best things happening in contemporary Australian publishing. They publish or produce in multiple formats: print, audio, video, film and live performance. I am very pleased to be able to contribute to publishing the best of short forms in digital media with Spineless Wonders, and potentially to contribute to Spineless Wonders’ significant development of award-wining authors.’ MOYA COSTELLO


Should I include my name on my submission and on my cover letter?
No. The 2019 award entries will be ‘blind judged’. That is, there should be no identifying information about the author on the submitted manuscript (including in the Header or Footer fields and you will not be required to submit a cover letter.

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 print publication will be subject to further discussion with the publisher.

Can I include illustrations in my submission?

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

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.

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 Submission 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.

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

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.

Are all genre types accepted?

Yes. Submissions may be written in any fiction genre and 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, My Name Is Revenge A novella and reflective essay which was a runner-up in the 2018 award, or I Put A Spell On You by Sam-George Allen one of the Slinkies Under 30s collections.  The award is not open to submissions comprised only of poetry.

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

‘The writing and the writing style – the excitement of the writing – is what matters, as with any short story competition.’ CARMEL BIRD, 2108 award judge.

What if I include some published stories in my submission?

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, 2018 award judge

Do you have to describe in your cover letter, what has been previously published?

No, you are not required to submit a cover letter. We will only ask for information about what text has been published (or won awards) and where, once your submission has been selected by the judge.

Will the judge, Moya Costello, be reading every entry?


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

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.

In terms of layout, are there specific requirements?

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.

Can you submit more than one entry?


How long will the long list be?

It will come down to the quality of the submissions.

Will any of the submissions, especially those on the longlist, receive any feedback?

No, there will be no feedback provided from the judge.

*These questions were 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, 2018. If you have further questions, please email info[at]shortaustralianstories[dot]com[dot]au


  1. To enter you must reside in Australia or be an Australian living overseas
  2. You must be over 18
  3. Submissions are sought for collections of short prose up to 30,000 words. The writing may take the form of fiction or creative non-fiction. The collection may be comprised of short stories, micro-fiction or novella. Submissions may also include reflective essays on the stories in the collection.
  4. All entries to be made via Submission Manager.
  5. Entry fee is $25. Concession holders and full-time students may enter for $20 via a Concession entry form.
  6. Submissions must consist of maximum 30,000 word manuscript.
  7. Entries may consist of audio-visual content, hyperlinks as well as text.
  8. Entries close midnight AEST, February 3, 2019.
  9. Entries may consist in part, but not in total, of work previously published in print or online provided this work is not subject to any existing copyright or licence or any other third party rights; entries may be comprised, in part but not in total, of work which has previously won or been a finalist in other competitions or awards; all work submitted must be your original work. Entries may be co-authored.
  10. The winner will be awarded $3000 and two runners-up will be awarded $1000 each. All three finalists will be offered a digital publication agreement by Spineless Wonders. This includes editorial, art and design, distribution and promotion and ongoing royalties from sales.
  11. The winner and runners-up will be announced in October, 2019.
  12. Entrants selected by the award judge will be contacted prior to the longlist announcement. All longlisted finalists will have an extract of their choice (along with a short synopsis and bio) showcased on Tablo.
  13. By submitting to the Award you are agreeing to the above entry conditions.

For inquiries, email info [at] shortaustralianstories.com.au

General submissions, click here. Concession submissions, click here.

Spineless Wonders wishes to thank the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund for its support of this project.