Book Prize Guidelines

Submissions to the 2024 Prairie Schooner Raz-Shuamker Book Prize Contest are now OPEN. You can send manuscripts via Submittable. Full guidelines are below.


Winners will receive $3000 and publication through the University of Nebraska Press.


The Prairie Schooner Raz-Shumaker Book Prize Series welcomes manuscripts from all living writers, including non-US citizens, writing in English. Both unpublished and published writers are welcome to submit manuscripts. However, we will not consider manuscripts that have previously been published, which includes self-publication. Writers may enter both contests. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but we ask that you notify us immediately if your manuscript is accepted for publication somewhere else. No past or present paid employee of Prairie Schooner or the University of Nebraska Press or current faculty or student at the University of Nebraska will be eligible for the prizes.

When to Send

Manuscripts will be accepted between January 15 and March 15, 2024.


We prefer that fiction manuscripts be at least 150 pages long and poetry manuscripts at least 50 pages long. Novels are not considered; we will consider manuscripts comprised either entirely of short stories or one novella along with short stories (please do not send a single novella or a collection of novellas). Manuscripts may contain stories or poems that have been published in journals or in chapbook form; however, if the full-length manuscript includes work from a previously published chapbook, the majority of the manuscript must be additional work not appearing in the chapbook. Prairie Schooner accepts electronic submissions as well as hard copy submissions. Please see below for further formatting guidelines and the link to submit electronically.

Hard Copy Submissions

The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript. All entries will be read anonymously. Please include two cover pages: one listing only the title of the manuscript, and the other listing the author’s name, address, telephone number, and email address. An acknowledgements page listing the publication history of individual stories or poems may be included, if desired. No application forms are necessary.

For hard copy submissions, photocopies are acceptable. Please do not bind manuscripts with anything other than a binder clip or rubber band. Please include a self-addressed postage-paid postcard for confirmation of manuscript receipt. Please use a standard postcard—small index cards will not be accepted by the U.S. Postal Service. A stamped, self-addressed business size envelope must accompany the submission for notification of results. No manuscripts will be returned. All manuscripts that do not win will be recycled.

Electronic Submissions

The author’s name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript. All entries will be read anonymously. An acknowledgements page listing the publication history of individual stories or poems may be included, if desired. No application forms are necessary. Click here to submit via Submittable.

Entry Fee

A $25 processing fee must accompany each submission, payable to Prairie Schooner.


Winners will be announced on this website on or before August 15, 2023. Results will be emailed or mailed shortly thereafter.


Prairie Schooner Prize Series
Attn: Fiction or Poetry
110 Andrews Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0334

Please send any questions to

For information on submitting to the journal, please see our submission guidelines.


Prairie Schooner, as a member of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, subscribes to this code of ethics for our annual book series competition: CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines—defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.

Manuscript Selection Process

We employ a book series coordinator who works for the contest only in an administrative capacity only. Her office is far removed from the series editor´s office and from the magazine´s editorial offices. She receives all manuscripts, opens the submissions and removes identifying information, and assigns each one a number. Her database is confined to a dedicated computer in her locked office. All manuscripts are read anonymously.

We employ a group of experienced, paid screeners that changes from year to year. The coordinator assigns the anonymous, numbered manuscripts to each screener, who receives instruction in ethical selection procedures. No current or former paid employee of Prairie Schooner or the University of Nebraska Press, nor any member of the faculty, nor any student at the University of Nebraska, is eligible for the contests. Screeners must return any manuscripts familiar or recognizable to them; such manuscripts will be reassigned to a different screener.

Each screener reads all manuscripts assigned and selects three top choices from his or her group of approximately fifty. The screener provides evaluative paragraphs about his or her top three choices. The coordinator receives the returned manuscripts from each screener and forwards the screeners´ top choices to a senior reader.

The top three selections from each screener are given by the coordinator to one of two senior readers. These senior readers choose up to ten finalists from among the screeners’ choices. These manuscripts are sent to members of our national literary board for further readings, whereupon two are selected each year in each genre. The board’s ranked responses are sent directly to Kwame Dawes, the senior editor of the Prairie Schooner Book Series, who makes the final selections in both poetry and short fiction, taking into consideration the comments of the literary board, senior readers, and screeners.

Throughout the screening process and until the winners are selected, only the book series coordinator, who may not serve as a screener, knows the identity of the writers.