Joy of the Pen Application

Annual Writing Competition Registration

The Joy of the Pen application is now open for submissions! Please read through the guidelines below and apply at the bottom of the page.

Deadline is October 6 at 4pm.

Due to some technical difficulties the form will pdf uploads at this time. If you have difficulty with this, please submit the rest of the form and email your work (in doc, DOCX or rtf format) to Sorry for any inconvenience.

Entering is free! Writers are limited to submitting one piece in each category (a total of four pieces – a collection of poetry counts as one piece). The categories are:
• Fiction (short story or novel extract, no more than 5000 words)
• Poetry (up to 5 poems with a limit of 15 pages)
• Creative Nonfiction (including memoir and personal essays, word limit same as fiction)
• Maine-Related Nonfiction (word limit the same as fiction)

We also have two teen categories this year! If you are 11-18 years old you can submit up to two pieces (one in each category– a collection of poetry counts as one piece):
• Teen Poetry (up to 5 poems with a limit of 15 pages)
• Teen Fiction (short story or novel extract, no more than 5000 words)

Winners (and one honorable mention) from each category will receive a small honorarium, have their work published on the Joy of the Pen Literary Journal and printed in a booklet that will be made available at the Joy of the Pen reception.

We recommend doing a spell check and reading your work aloud before submitting.

Rules of Entry:
✫ Year-round residents of Maine only
Unpublished work only (work that has been self-published or has appeared online, on a personal blog for example, is NOT eligible)
✫ Writers are limited to one piece in each category (4 pieces total for adults and 2 pieces total for teens – a collection of poetry counts as 1 piece)
✫ Work that does not adhere to word/page limit will not be read/considered
✫ Joy of the Pen is judged anonymously. Please do not put your name on the work itself, only on the application. Likewise, the judges will remain anonymous until the awards are announced.
✫ Topsham Public Library retains first publication rights to the work of the winners and runners-up (all other rights automatically return to the author after publication)

Preferred Manuscript Format

  • Include the word count in top right corner of page 1
  • Always use 12-point, Times New Roman or similar font.
  • Double-space paragraphs
  • Keep text justified to the left (Word default)
  • Indent new paragraphs (use tab button) rather than leave a line space
  • Use 1-inch margins (standard Word margins are fine)
  • Include a top-header with the story title and the page number in top right corner, beginning on page 2
  • Use a pound sign (#) to separate any line breaks

For further information, call the library or email