Literary Magazine Prizes

Literary Magazine Prizes

Literary magazines are more than vessels for fresh writing; they’re critical to the evolution of writers’ careers and the health of the literary ecosystem. They’re run by some of the most devoted and determined creative minds in the publishing industry, who often provide emerging writers their first significant editorial relationships, helping hone voice and craft. 

They find these writers their first audience. Agents and book editors discover new talent in their pages. They’re cultural hubs in their region, whether that’s a part of the country or a place in the mind. Their reach has always been exponentially greater than their subscriber bases.

But these publications often achieve their amazing results with too few resources and too little recognition for their accomplishments. The Literary Magazine Prizes empower outstanding nonprofit publications to develop and implement ideas that will have a transformative impact on their crucial work as champions of writers.

Up to eight prizes are awarded every three years. Prize-winning magazines are invited  to work with the Foundation over the course of three years and receive outright grants of $10,000 - $20,000 in the first year followed by matching grants in the second and third years.

The matching grants are intended as a fundraising tool to help magazines find new donors and bring existing donors deeper into the fold. Matching grants are up to the same amount as the outright grant in the first year, and the Foundation matches donations from individuals (rather than grants from other organizations or other kinds of revenue).

In addition to receiving funds, prize-winning magazines form a learning cohort that meets periodically throughout the three-year period for shared and 1:1 professional development opportunities, including consultations with marketing and fundraising experts and peer working groups.

Winners are selected by outside readers with deep expertise in literature and literary magazines. The judges look for applicants that embody the best of what magazines do: publish extraordinary writing with verve and flair, support talented writers on the page and in the world, connect with readers, and advance the literary community. Judges also look for applicants that are prepared to take full advantage of the resources provided by the prize to build sustainability and participate in a learning cohort that works collaboratively to develop new ways to contribute to the literary world.

Explore previous prize-winning magazines here.

The application window for the 2023 Literary Magazine Prizes is closed. Applications were due Thursday, December 1 by 11:59pm ET.

The guidelines below are for reference only.

Beginning in 2023, the Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes are shifting to a triennial model: the Foundation will give more, larger prizes each cycle (up to eight from $10-20k vs five from $3-20k) but will hold application cycles less often (every three years). This change builds on what we have learned from the first five years of the program about the value of the cohort model as a peer-learning tool and enables us to expand the professional development opportunities we offer winners as they pursue ambitious goals.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be based in the US
  • Have published at least annually for at least the last three years (i.e., at least once in 2020, 2021, and 2022)
  • Be a federally-recognized nonprofit classified as a public charity (or be part of a larger organization with that status or be fiscally sponsored by a public charity; note that public universities and nonprofit private universities are eligible parent organizations)
  • Be prepared to participate in a learning cohort that comes together for short remote meetings approximately once per month during traditional business hours over the course of the three-year prize period
  • Publish writing for adult readers (magazines written for children or young adult audiences are not eligible)

Note that in previous cycles, magazines needed to have an annual budget of no more than $500,000 to be considered eligible. This criterion is not applicable for the 2023 cycle. Magazines of all budget sizes that meet the eligibility requirements above are encouraged to apply.

The selection process involves two rounds of review. Eligible publications are invited to submit an initial application through this Submittable form by 11:59pm Eastern Time on Thursday, December 1, 2022 (please note there will be no exceptions to this deadline; late or incomplete applications will not be accepted).

Applicants will be notified of the results of the first round of review in spring 2023. Those advancing will be invited to submit expanded final-round applications. In recognition of the time and resources it takes to complete the final-round application, magazines selected as finalists will each receive a $250 honorarium. A public announcement of the winners will be made in fall 2023.

Reviewers will consist of diverse experts in the field drawn from all over the country, who will serve anonymously to shield them from any external pressures.

The Foundation held two online information sessions to answer questions and offer guidance on applying for these prizes. 

  • Watch a recording of the info session on Thurs, Oct 6 here.
  • Watch a recording of the info session on Tues, Nov 15 here.

If you have any questions about eligibility or the application process, please contact us at litmags@whiting.org.