Home > Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to enter?
All Published – $45.00
Unpublished Memoirs, Novels, and Novels for Children – $45.00
Unpublished Poetry Chapbooks and Short Stories – $25.00

Entry fees are payable via check, or you may pay with your credit card using our SDBA STORE option when the option is available. Please include a check or payment receipt with your books and form submission.

Is it true the SDBA Contest is now open to non-residents?

The San Diego Contest to ANYONE who wishes to submit (currently only books in English can be judged). This is a significant change from our previous stance on only allowing entrants who were residents of San Diego County. So, feel free to share this news with your friends and family writers. Please invite them to submit, whether or not they live in San Diego County!

What years are allowed in the current contest?

We accept published entries from the current contest year and the year before. All unpublished entries are accepted as long as they follow our submission guidelines. For submission guidelines and entry forms, check out our SUBMISSIONS GUIDELINES PAGE! (entry forms are only available during the submission window)

How do I get my judging forms?

In order to help our volunteers who work so tirelessly to provide the contest submissions with great attention and honor, we’re now offering the option to purchase electronic copies of the judging forms that are available (only for the 2020 contest and going forward). The cost is $5.00 per book. You may pay with your credit card in the SDBA STORE or feel free to pre-pay with the entry fee.

BE ADVISED – SDBA only keeps the contest judging forms on file for a year.

How will I be notified that my submission has been received within the submission window?
Please include a self-addressed, stamped postcard, and we will be happy to send that back to you once your entry has been received. Otherwise, there will be NO NOTIFICATION given. Once the submission window closes, you will only be notified if you become a finalist.

Does my work remain my own?

Can I pay the fees and submit my entry in more than one category?

Multiple submissions of the same entry will be disqualified and the checks appropriately shredded. If multiple categories are selected on the entry form, the submission will only be judged in one category. One entry allowed, one category judged. Choose your category carefully.

Each entry, published or unpublished, is evaluated by at least three separate judges. Published books are not returned as we do not have the staff or money for postage to collect them from the judges. All submissions become the property of SDBA.

I’m a previous winner, and I need more stickers. Can I buy more?
We have as many as you need! Please go to our store for purchasing details. And our digital sticker is a reality!
SDBA Winner & Finalist Sticker

How are the unpublished manuscripts/published books judged?
Judges in every category are instructed to evaluate each entry on its own merit and not to compare it to other books/manuscripts they are judging.

The judges do know the names of the authors of the books, but not the manuscripts. The unpublished category is a blind evaluation which means the judges do not know the name of any of the authors. Since author names are on published books, judges are instructed to let us know if they are familiar with the author and we will have them judge another entry.

I have my first 30 pages ready to be submitted in the unpublished category, do I still need a complete manuscript if I qualify?

Judging unpublished novels and memoirs is a two-step process. The first 30 pages are judged to determine who the finalists will be. If you are a finalist you will be notified by phone or email. Finalist names will be posted on the San Diego Book Awards website. If you are not a finalist, your 30-page entry will be returned to you at the end of the contest.

If you are a finalist you will be notified by phone or email. Finalist names will be posted on the San Diego Book Awards website. If you are not a finalist, your 30-page entry will be returned to you at the end of the contest only if you have included a S.A.S.E. with sufficient postage (See submission guidelines).

If you are notified that you are a finalist, your first 30 pages will be returned to you so, if you wish, you may make changes based on the judges’ comments. After that, you will have approximately one week to send in your entire manuscript, so be sure to have it finished. If it is not, your status as a finalist will be revoked and you will not be able to participate in the final competition.

Is it possible to contact the judge personally who critiqued my book?
If you request it, we will ask the judge to contact you, but contacting you is at the judge’s discretion. Just email us.

Where can I find your list of previous winners?
We keep a running archive right here, and in the SDBA website toolbar. It only goes back to 2007, but that’s still a lot of winners and finalists!