The PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers recognizes twelve emerging fiction writers each year for their debut short story published during a given calendar year in a literary magazine or cultural website and aims to support the launch of their careers as fiction writers.

Each of the twelve winning writers will receive a cash prize of $2,000 and will be honored at the annual PEN Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City. The independent book publisher Catapult will publish the twelve winning stories in an annual anthology entitled The PEN America Best Debut Short Stories. The literary magazines and websites where the stories were originally published will be acknowledged in the anthology. 

Eligibility and Submissions for the 2018 Awards


Submissions for 2018 Awards
Submissions for the 2018 Awards cycle will be accepted from June 1, 2017 through August 15, 2017.

Who is eligible

  • PEN will only accept submissions from editors of eligible publications. Authors may not submit their own work.
  • Participating publications may be online magazines, print magazines distributed in the U.S., or cultural websites.
  • Stories must have been published in (or forthcoming) in 2017. 
  • Editors from eligible publications may only submit an author’s debut short story. A debut story is defined as the writer’s first short story publication that has undergone an editorial review process and been accepted and published by a publication that the author is not professionally associated with.
  • Editors from eligible publications may submit up to four eligible stories from eligible authors in a given award year.
  • Editors from eligible publications may submit short stories that are up to 12,000 words in length.
  • Authors must be either U.S. citizens and/or permanent U.S. residents.
  • The editor and author must agree to the award’s declaration of eligibility and consent, which outlines serial rights for Catapult’s forthcoming anthology.
  • There are no restrictions on the candidate’s age or on the style of his or her work.

How to apply
1. Editors from eligible publications must download and complete the award’s declaration of eligibility and consent.

2. Complete the online Submittable form.

See FAQs for the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for more information.