2012 Million Writers Award Rules

The purpose of the 2012 storySouth Million Writers Award is to honor and promote the best fiction published in online literary journals and magazines during 2011. 

To make a nomination, go here.

The Reason

The reason for the Million Writers Award is that most of the major literary prizes for short fiction (such as the Best American Short Stories series and the O. Henry Awards) have traditionally ignored web-published fiction. This award aims to show that world-class fiction is being published online and to promote this fiction to the larger reading and literary community.

How It Works

The Million Writers Award takes its name from the idea that we in the online writing community have the power to promote the great stories we are creating. If only a few hundred writers took the time to tell fifteen of their friends about a great online short story--and if these friends then passed the word about this fiction to their friends (and so on and so on)--this one story would soon have a larger readership than all of the works in Best American Short Stories.

To help promote online stories, the Million Writers Award accepts nominations from readers, writers, and editors (and the volunteer preliminary judges who assist with the award). There is no entry fee.


Last year there were three cash prizes: $600 for the overall winner, $200 for the runner-up, and $100 for the honorable mention/third place. There was also a $100 gift certificate from  ThinkGeek for the overall winner. All of this prize money was raised through donations from writers, editors and readers.

The 2012 Million Writers Award is starting off with an award base of $300, which has been donated by early donors like Spring Garden Press (storySouth's publisher). To help raise the amount we can give for prize money, we are seeking additional donations. To donate, go here.

Please note that since these donations do not go through Spring Garden Press (storySouth's publisher), donations are not tax deductible. However, the entire donated amount will be used for prize money, minus the small fee PayPal deducts for transmitting the money.

All donors will have the option of having their name and donation listed on the Million Writers Award page. Donors may also remain anonymous.

Please note that the all prizes will be transferred to the winners by PayPal. In order to receive the prize money, winners must have a PayPal account.


Best Online Publication Award

In addition to the award for best fiction, the online magazine or journal that ends up with the most stories selected as "Notable Stories of the Year" will be honored as the year's best publication for online fiction.

Why Should I Do This?

The general gripe among writers is that no one pays attention to quality writings, while bad or mediocre writings get lots of attention because they are published in prestigious magazines or written by authors who are good at gaining media attention. This award is about countering this trend by promoting the best online writers and stories.

The Rules

1) Only stories first published in online literary journals, magazines, and e-zines that have an editorial process, during the 2011 calendar year, are eligible for nomination. This means that an editor must have selected the story for publication. Self-published stories are not eligible. Stories reprinted online, but originally published in a print edition, are not eligible.

2) Anyone may nominate ONE story for the award. This means that readers of magazines can nominate one story and that writers can nominate one their own stories, provided the story was published in 2011 in an online magazine. Editors of online magazines and journals can nominate up to THREE of the stories published in their magazine during 2011.

3) To be eligible for nomination, a story must be longer than 1,000 words.

4) In addition to nominations from writers, readers, and editors, the Million Writers Award also uses preliminary judges to nominate stories for the award and to screen nominations from writers, readers, and editors. The names of the preliminary judges will be released after the award has been announced.

5) From all of the nominees, the judges will select the "Notable Stories of the Year." From this list of notable stories, three judges selected by Jason Sanford will chose the top ten stories of the year. The overall winner of the year's award will be selected by a public vote from among the top ten stories of the year. The public vote will use a secure voting system.

6) The online journal or magazine gaining the most "notable story" selections will be named as the Million Writers Award publication of the year. The editors will also select one publication as the Million Writers Award new magazine or journal of the year. Other awards for excellence may also be given out, if the editors feel there is a reason for doing so (such as highlighting a journal or magazine for doing something new or unusual which added to the overall prestige of online publishing).

7) Nominations of stories will begin March 26, 2012 and end April 9, 2012. The list of notable stories of the year will be released around the first of May with the top ten stories released around the end of May. Voting on the overall winner will last for three weeks after the top ten stories are released.

8) Any attempt by writers to distort or manipulate the public vote will result in the disqualification of their respected stories. Writers are allowed to promote their own stories during the vote and to ask others to vote for them. Attempts to repeatedly vote for their own story or to compromise the secure voting system will result in disqualification. The editors of storySouth have final authority to determine if any writer is attempting to distort or manipulate the public vote and the editors' decisions regarding disqualification are final and can not be appealed.

To Nominate a Story

To nominate a story, readers and editors will submit their name, a valid e-mail address, the name of the nominated author, the name of the magazine or journal, and a URL hyperlink to the story. The URL must go directly to the story's page in the online magazine or journal that originally published it. Links to author home pages where the story is posted are not eligible. DO NOT e-mail the entire story to any storySouth editor or to Jason Sanford. Doing so will guarantee that a story is not considered for the award.

How Can I Help?

If you want to help promote this award and online writers in general, please pass the word about this contest or link to this page. Also, please consider supporting the Million Writers Award by making a donation to help increase the award money we give out.

For more information, please e-mail Jason Sanford at lapthai@yahoo.com.