Announcing the ECW Press Best New Speculative Novel Contest


At ECW Press, we are passionate about genre fiction, and we’re delighted at the new wave of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative literature that has hit the shelves and touched the minds, hearts, and imaginations of readers. This is why we’re excited to launch the ECW Press Best New Speculative Novel Contest, judged by editors Terese Mason Pierre and Jen R. Albert.
Terese and Jen have been working in speculative fiction for years and are well aware of the incredible talent within Canada in this space. There are hundreds of authors writing brilliant, unique speculative fiction in Canada right now, and while select Canadian publishers have been flirting with lists containing spec fic, we still see a dearth of work in this genre being published. There is room for so much more! We’re so excited to present this manuscript contest as a part of our efforts to curate a list of original, disruptive, and diverse speculative fiction books at ECW Press.

About the Contest

ECW Press is hosting a manuscript contest offering a $3000 prize and a publishing contract to the author of the best new Canadian speculative fiction novel. We are seeking entries of unpublished novel manuscripts in English between 40,000 and 150,000 words by a Canadian author in the science fiction, fantasy, or speculative fiction genres. The deadline for entries is October 31, 2021, and there is no fee to enter.

What Is Speculative Fiction?

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term for fiction that includes elements of the unreal, surreal, and imagined or elements that do not exist in nature or the universe. The speculative fiction category includes fantasy, science fiction, horror, supernatural, superhero, apocalyptic, myth and folklore, magical realism and fabulism, alternate realities/histories, and more.

 This contest places no limits on the strength of the speculative elements present within the manuscript. We also invite genre-bending, genre liminality, and slipstream. This means that speculative elements can interplay with non-speculative themes and genres (e.g. literary speculative, fantasy romance). Books like these include Gutter Child by Jael Richardson, The Quiet Is Loud by Samantha Garner, and Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian.

What We Are (and Are Not) Looking For

The judges will be evaluating manuscripts based on the quality of the writing, characters, and narrative in the book, and we will be reading with an eye to publishing works of speculative fiction that are innovative, disruptive, and diverse. We welcome work that deals with complex, difficult real-world issues in nuanced ways but are not interested in work that is racist, sexist, ableist, anti-LGBTQIA2S+, appropriative, or that otherwise reinforces harmful stereotypes of marginalized peoples based on race, religion, culture, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or way of being.

Contest Rules and Details

1. The winner of the contest will receive a $3000 prize and an offer of publication from ECW Press. The advance and contract terms on the offer of publication will be negotiated between the house and the author and/or their representative at the time of the offer and will be in addition to the contest prize.

2. Manuscripts entered should be previously unpublished as a whole, including self-publication, with no more than 10% excerpted as a published piece, and should be free of any current publication obligations (e.g., a contract or option clause).

3. Manuscripts should be between 40,000 and 150,000 words in length, and in the English language.

4. Novels should be in either the young adult or adult categories and fit within the genre “speculative fiction,” a term that we interpret broadly. Please see the “What Is Speculative Fiction?” section above for more details.

5. No multiple submissions. If you have multiple novels that fit the bill, please send us the one you think we’ll like best!

6. Simultaneous submissions to agents are allowed, but should your manuscript go on submission to other publishers before the contest results are announced, we ask that you withdraw it from the contest as soon as possible and instead submit the book to ECW Press through regular channels. See here for our regular submissions process.

7. This contest is only open to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and Indigenous people who do not share Canadian identity but who reside within the arbitrarily determined borders that currently define Canada. This is so we can determine granting eligibility.

8. Contest entries will be taken through email only, starting immediately until 11:59 p.m. EST on October 31, 2021. Final decisions will be made and the winner and all participating authors will be informed of the results of the contest by the end of 2021.

9. All personal information, such as names and contact information, are collected only for the purposes of contacting potential winners. Such information will not be disclosed to any third party outside of ECW Press at any time, and contest entrants will not be contacted for any purposes other than this contest and possible publication.

Note that all manuscripts entered into the contest will be read and considered for publication at ECW Press, regardless of whether they win. We may make offers of publication to one or more non-winning participating authors, with advance and terms to be negotiated at the time of the offer. We regret that we will not be able to offer personalized feedback on everything submitted, but we will read and carefully consider each book for both the contest prize and for publication.

How to Enter

Send your best speculative fiction manuscript along with a brief description of the book (up to 250 words) and a personal bio (up to 250 words) to us using the following Google Form by 11:59 p.m. EST on October 31, 2021. Please send the manuscript in .doc, .rtf, or .docx format and title the document using the following format: FirstNameLastName_BookTitle.docx. Please see here for more manuscript formatting tips. You will receive an automatic response after you fill out the form confirming you have entered the contest, and you will hear from us with regards to the contest results by the end of 2021. If you have any questions, please email us at There is no entry fee for this contest.

The Judges

The contest will be jointly judged by speculative fiction editors Terese Mason Pierre and Jen R. Albert. Authors accepted for publication should expect to work closely with Terese, Jen, or both in an editorial capacity to prepare the book for publication.

Terese Mason Pierre is an award-nominated writer and editor whose work has appeared in Hobart, The Puritan, Quill and Quire, and Fantasy Magazine, among others. She is the co-Editor-in-Chief of Augur Magazine, a Canadian speculative literature journal. Terese has volunteered with poetry reading series, facilitated creative writing workshops, and spoken at conferences on editing and speculative literature. She is the author of poetry chapbooks, Surface Area (Anstruther Press, 2019) and Manifest (Gap Riot Press, 2020).

Jen R. Albert is an editor, writer, and former entomologist from Toronto. Jen works full-time as an editor at ECW Press, where she specializes in speculative fiction, and has just retired from a five-year tenure as co-editor of the fantasy fiction podcast PodCastle. She is also co-chair of ephemera, a monthly speculative fiction reading series. Jen has been nominated for numerous accolades for her editorial work in SFF, including the Hugo Award, the Ignyte Award, the Aurora Award, and the World Fantasy Award, and she has won the British Fantasy Award and the Academy of Podcasters Award.

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