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 the first significant editorial relationship for an emerging writer, 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 accomplishment. The Foundation has created these prizes with the desire to acknowledge, reward, and encourage organizations that are actively nurturing the writers who tell us, through their art, what is important.


Prizes are given in five categories:
 

•   Print Prizes 

    •   Prize for a medium-sized print magazine (budget of <$500,000): An outright grant of $20,000 in 2021 (with an additional matching* grant of up to $20,000 per year for the following two years)

    •   Prize for a smaller print magazine (budget of <$150,000): An outright grant of $10,000 in 2021 (with an additional matching* grant of up to $10,000 per year for the following two years)

    •   Print development grant (budget of <$50,000): An outright grant of $5,000 in 2021 (with an additional matching* grant of up to $5,000 per year for the following two years)
 

•   Digital Prizes for primarily online magazines

    •   Prize for a digital magazine (budget of <$500,000): An outright grant of $10,000 in 2021 (with an additional matching* grant of up to $10,000 per year for the following two years)

    •   Digital development grant (budget of <$15,000): An outright grant of $3,000 in 2021 (with an additional matching* grant of up to $3,000 per year for the following two years)

 

* The exact nature of the matching grants for 2022 and 2023 will be discussed with the winning publications. Note that the budget cutoffs for the different categories are based on the distribution of budget levels we have seen for previous pools of applicants, which differ considerably between print and digital publications.

 

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.

By offering support that unfolds over several years, the Whiting Foundation hopes to ignite growth. What distinguishes this prize is the call to action built into its design: winning magazines will be encouraged to strive for visionary goals – reaching for new talent and investing in their own sustainability, as well as their ability to bring their writers to a wider readership.

As with its other programs, the Whiting Foundation offers winners support beyond the prize itself, lining up expert advisors for consultation with winners to help tackle perpetual challenges such as fundraising and marketing, and helping them form a cohort that will convene several times a year to think through challenges and opportunities they share.

Applicants must be not-for-profit, have annual budgets of no more than $500,000, and have published at least annually for at least the last three years. Because of IRS restrictions on the use of funds by private foundations like Whiting, applicants must be based in the US and must be a federally-recognized nonprofit classified as a public charity, or operate with a 501(c)(3) organization regularly serving as a fiscal sponsor, to be eligible for these prizes. More information about fiscal sponsorship is available here.

The application window for the 2021 cycle is open. Applications are due on Monday, November 30, 2020.

The 2021 Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes will be awarded to three print publications and two online publications.

Applicants must be based in the US; be a federally-recognized nonprofit classified as a public charity (or fiscally sponsored by one); have an annual budget of no more than $500,000; have begun publishing in or prior to 2018; and publish regularly (for the 2021 cycle, this is defined as publishing in at least three years out of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020) to be considered eligible.

The selection process involves two rounds of review. Eligible publications are invited to submit an initial short-form application through this online form by Monday, November 30, 2020 (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 2021. 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 summer 2021. 

Reviewers of the initial short-form applications and judges of final-round applications 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 will host three online information sessions to answer questions and offer guidance on applying for these prizes. Sessions will take place on Tuesday, Sept 22, Wednesday, Sept 30, and Thursday, Oct 8, all at 2pm ET. Register for a session by clicking on a date below:

Tues, Sept 22 at 2pm ET
Weds, Sept 30 at 2pm ET
Thurs, Oct 8 at 2pm ET


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