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NLCU Fresh Fish Award

Call for Submissions: NLCU’s Fresh Fish Award 2024

(February 21, 2024 – St. John’s, NL) – WritersNL is pleased to announce the call for submissions for one of the country’s most lucrative literary awards for unpublished writers: the NLCU Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers.

The biennial award was established by author Brian O’Dea in 2006 and is now generously sponsored by NLCU.

The Fresh Fish Award is intended to incentivize emerging writers in the province by providing them with financial support, recognition, and professional editing services for a book-length manuscript in any genre.

The winning author will receive a cash prize of $5,200; $1,000 towards professional editing services for the winning manuscript. The runners-up will each receive $1,200.

NLCU Chief Executive Officer, Glenn Bolger, commented on the significance of the award to emerging writers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The NLCU Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers has become a momentous stepping-stone for launching the literacy careers of talented up-and-coming local writers. Of the 35 writers who have won or been runner-up for this award over the years, 24 of them have gone on to successfully publish their works. As an arts patron and this award’s sponsor since 2011, NLCU is honoured to help provide a supportive platform for emerging artists.” 

WritersNL has offered this emerging writers program since 2006, to recognize and support budding authors.

View a complete list of eligibility rules and submission guidelines below.

Submission deadline: April 1, 2024 at 5 p.m. NST 

Media Contact:
Jen Winsor, Executive Director


Writers must be current members of WritersNL with a completed, unpublished manuscript in any genre. Writers may join WritersNL at the time of submission.

Writers must have lived in Newfoundland and Labrador for the 12 months immediately prior to the call for submissions OR must have lived in Newfoundland and Labrador in any combination of 36 of the last 60 months. Deceased writers are not eligible.

Writers are permitted to submit only one entry per year, in any genre.

Manuscripts must be single-authored.

Manuscripts must be in English.

Manuscripts that contain other media in addition to writing (e.g., photos, CDs, graphics, illustrations) are eligible. However, the award will be given only to the author of the manuscript’s text and only for the writing.

Collected or selected works (e.g., poems, short stories) by a single author are eligible provided at least 50% of the text is previously unpublished material.

Manuscripts containing material not written by the author (e.g., letters, diaries, memoirs, blogs, oral histories, selected writings) are eligible provided at least 50% of the text is written by the author (e.g., introduction, exposition, commentary, reporting, narrative, footnotes, epilogue).

The following are not eligible for the Fresh Fish Award: anthologies with more than one author, audiobooks, textbooks, self-help or how-to books, manuals or guidebooks on any subject (e.g., travel, nature, cookbook), dictionaries, encyclopedias.

Writers with a published book in any genre on any platform or in any media, or a book accepted for publication at the time of submission, are NOT eligible.

The Fresh Fish Award will accept a manuscript that has been submitted once before. Entry forms for resubmitted manuscripts must identify the manuscript as such and must indicate the year it was first entered. Manuscripts submitted more than twice will not be accepted.


Assessment of all eligible submissions to the Fresh Fish Award will be adjudicated by an independent jury recruited and facilitated by WritersNL.

The independent jury will submit a shortlist of three books and a winning book from that shortlist.

The paramount consideration is excellence in writing. Jurors should reflect on creativity, wordsmithery, and originality.

A juror must disclose any conflict of interest. WritersNL defines conflict of interest in terms of whether a juror stands to gain any financial benefit through association with a submitted manuscript, or if the juror stands to gain from any moral or intellectual rights, or if the juror has a significant personal relationship with the author of a submitted manuscript. If there is a conflict of interest the juror will be asked to step aside.

The decisions made by the Fresh Fish Award jury are final.


Each manuscript must be typed in 12 point font and double-spaced. Handwritten manuscripts will NOT be accepted. (Poetry manuscripts do not have to comply with the double-space requirement.) Submissions can be sent as a PDF or a Microsoft Word document is preferred.

Pages must be numbered. The title should appear on every page.

All Fresh Fish submissions must be anonymous — Please do not include your name anywhere in your submission.

Entries that do not adhere to these guidelines will be disqualified.

Submission deadline: April 1, 2024 at 5 p.m. NST

Send your submissions to

2024 Fresh Fish Timeline

• Fresh Fish Call for Submissions Announced – February 21, 2024
• Deadline for Fresh Fish Submissions – April 1, 2024
• Longlist Announcement – May 27, 2024
• Shortlist Announcement – June 3, 2024
• Shortlist Readings and Winner Announcement – Mid-June 2024 (exact date TBD)

Click here to read about the history of the Fresh Fish Award

Click here to view past Fresh Fish Winners