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Narratively Is Excited to Announce Our 2023 Memoir Prize!
Submissions for our second annual Memoir Prize are open now. Read on for all the details—from the $3,000 cash prize to our bestselling memoirist guest judge.
The 2023 Narratively Memoir Prize is now closed for submissions. We’ll announce our winners and finalists on or around February 5, 2024.
Hello, writers! And aspiring writers. And anyone, really — we all have a story to tell! Last year, we ran our very first Narratively Memoir Prize, and it was a greater success than we could have ever imagined. We received over 500 submissions and got to publish pieces by three amazing women from around the globe whose stories took our collective breath away. To everyone who submitted — thank you again! It means so much. And if you haven’t had a chance yet, don’t miss the Grand Prize-winning story by Laura Green-Russell, “Murder to Middle School,” as well as the wonderful stories from finalists Mai Serhan and Anna Grundström.
Now, if you’ve got an extraordinary personal story to share, we have good news for you! From Tuesday, September 26, 2023, through Thursday, November 30, 2023, Narratively is accepting entries for our 2023 Memoir Prize. We’re on the hunt for revealing and emotional first-person nonfiction narratives from unique and overlooked points of view. The winning submission will receive a $3,000 prize and publication on Narratively. We have an absolute dream guest judge to help us select one Grand Prize Winner and two Finalists. We’re truly so excited to have her on board — more on that below.
Who is Narratively?
We’re a storytelling platform and production company that supports indie journalists and storytellers and celebrates humanity through true, authentic and diverse character-driven content. We publish our original stories on Narratively.com and often with top publishing partners across the globe, and we adapt our favorites into TV, film and podcasts with leading partners from Amazon Studios to Warner Bros. Television. We’re immensely proud and excited to do the same with our 2023 Memoir Prize winners! (You can learn more about Narratively’s mission and business model here.)
Who’s judging my story?
Entries will be judged on a rolling basis in four rounds: the first three by experienced Narratively readers and staff, and the final by our incredible and generous guest judge, New York Times bestselling memoirist Stephanie Land!
Eight years ago, we were thrilled to publish Stephanie’s story, “The Three Car Crashes That Changed My Life.” That story ultimately became a part of Stephanie’s book-length memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, which was an instant bestseller, hailed as a “personal, unflinching look at America’s class divide” by President Barack Obama, and adapted into the Netflix series Maid — which is Netflix’s most-watched limited series in history, drawing more than 67 million viewers in its first month alone. Stephanie’s second memoir, Class: A Memoir of Motherhood, Hunger, and Higher Education, is set to be published in November 2023.
So, what do I win?! In addition to publishing their work on Narratively.com and including it in a special Narratively 2023 Memoir Prize Digital Collection, we’ll award the top three writers the following cash prizes:
Grand Prize: US$3,000
What are we looking for, exactly?
Narratively’s first-person stories offer intimate takes on unusual personal experiences, pursuits and passions. Across everything we do, our absolute focus is on supporting fresh and underrepresented voices. We want an honest, in-depth glimpse into your life and, through that, a world we and our readers might not have access to otherwise.
So, how does this work?
Our competition period opens at 9 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on September 26, 2023, and closes at 9 p.m. EDT on November 30, 2023. Enter your eligible piece via our dedicated form on Submittable by uploading your submission and paying a US$20 entry fee within the prize submission period. Or, become a Narratively paid subscriber and get free entry to this and all Narratively prizes.
Why do we charge a fee?
Your entry fee will allow us to compensate the people who are enabling us to effectively and fairly evaluate every single Prize submission — from our freelance readers to our Prize editors, copyeditors, fact-checkers, visual editors and producers.
How do I enter for free?
If you’re already a paid subscriber, first of all, thank you for supporting indie journalism! Second of all, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request the subscriber-only free submission link.
What should my entry look like?
As with all Narratively stories, submissions should be composed of vivid, active scenes, unique characters and an engaging narrative arc. We have a few rules to follow, but encourage maximum creativity within these guidelines. The best way to get a sense of what we’re looking for is to read the stories on the list of examples we love below. (Full formatting info is available on our Submittable form.)
Here are a few examples of first-person Narratively pieces we love:
Your piece should be:
Ready to publish — no pitches accepted
In the 2,000 to 7,000-word range
Written in the first person
Original and previously unpublished as a written work in a major publication
Written in English, although translations are acceptable
You should be:
Eighteen years of age or older on or before 9 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 26, 2023
Not employed by, related to or sharing living quarters with Narratively staff or our guest judges
To answer your questions:
We will accept simultaneous submissions (meaning you also can submit your entry to other outlets during our open Prize window), but writers must notify us if their piece is accepted elsewhere.
We will accept multiple submissions from a single author, but each story must be submitted and paid for individually.
We will accept stories that have been previously published on personal blogs and websites.
We will permit adaptations from other media (podcasts, scripts, etc.) with disclosure.
This competition is open to anyone, including past and current Narratively contributors. (Current and former Narratively editors, however, are ineligible.)
The Grand Prize Winner and Finalists will be required to sign our standard Contributor Agreement.
These are a few of the key points in our agreement:
You retain print publication rights, should you pursue a book version of your story now or in the future.
Narratively has the right to pursue TV and film projects based on the work. These projects could be either unscripted/documentary or fictional (inspired by your story).
Revenue from any TV or film projects is shared with contributors.
We publish Narratively Out Loud, which features read-aloud audio versions of all Narratively stories, so the contract also gives us the rights to produce those.
We can’t wait to be invited into your world. Best of luck!
Narratively is a reader-supported publication. Become a paid subscriber to read our stories and get free entires into the Memoir Prize and all of our writing contests.