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2024 Book Winner:

Khanh Ha, An Artist's Legacy

An Artist's Legacy is a sublime work of historical fiction anchored in the complex cultural conflicts of the First Indochina War and its climactic confrontation at Dien Bien Phu. Through rich character development, detailed cultural perspective, and expert military exposition, Khanh Ha offers a fresh and detailed perspective on a conflict, and the players who shaped and were shaped by it, that irreparably turned the course and path of 20th Century geopolitics. 

-J. Eric Smith, author of Ubulembu



Congratulations to the following writers!

Khanh Ha, An Artist's Legacy

Christy Bailey, Pañuelo Girl

Andrew Gretes, Please Don't Feed the Philosophers

Dennis Pahl, The Museum of Lost Things: Stories




Stephanie Dupal, The Kindness of Terrible People

Colby Coash, Unexpected Legacy

Carol Matos, Another Kind of Migration

Lena Zycinsky, On the Threshold of Empire

Andrew Gretes, Please Don't Feed the Philosophers

Khanh Ha, An Artist's Legacy

Vytautas Malesh, Constellations at Sea

Kee Kee Buckley, Seeking Shama

Nnandi Samuel, A Country of Bone & Rot

Josh Rolnick, Pump Head: A Novella and Stories

Ayshe Dengtash, Away

Cristian Leata, Leaving for Better

Paul Clayton, The Fake Memoir of a Mid-List Writer

Dennis  Pahl, The Museum of Lost Things: Stories

Christy  Bailey, Pañuelo Girl

J. Roarke, The Tellings of Julio Rivera and Other Short Stories

Vera Wadu, The Language of Our Souls



Details: $1,000 advance and standard contract from Unleash Press for one winning manuscript. Novels, poetry collections, short story collections, and creative nonfiction manuscripts are accepted. We'll reopen for our 2025 competition in July.

Author Khanh Ha Headshot - 2.JPG
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2023 winner
Now Available

2022 winner
National Book Award Nominee

Image by Ricardo Gomez Angel



Unleash Work-in-Progress (WIP) Award 2024 (January – July 2024)

We aim to assist writers in the completion of an important literary project and vision. The Unleash WIP Award offers writers support in the amount of $500 to aid in the completion of a book-length work of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Writers will also receive editorial feedback, a coaching call, and an excerpt/interview feature in Unleash Lit. This contest is designed to support writers who are just starting or who have been toiling away but need a little boost to keep going.

The Unleash Board of Directors will select the winner.

Entries will be judged on originality, emotional resonance, and the author’s vision.



Submit the first 25 pages of your WIP (.doc, .docx, PDF) and answers to the following questions in the document:

  • Who are you as a creative person, and what is your creative vision? (No CV or resumes here)

  • Who is your intended audience for this project, and why?

Please keep your name off all attachments. Share who you are as a creative, without disclosing your name. 

  • Submissions will be accepted until July 15, 2024.

  • There are no refunds if you withdraw a submission.

  • Please leave all identifying information off of the manuscript.

  • The maximum length of a sample from your manuscript is 25 pages double-spaced.

  • Genres accepted include fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and experimental/hybrid.

  • If guidelines are not followed, the manuscript will be automatically rejected (e.g., including identifying information on the manuscript).

  • Previously self-published works are accepted.

  • Previously traditionally published works are only accepted if the author received little to no support.

2023 Book Prize Winner

Ubulembu and Other Stories


J. Eric Smith

J. Eric Smith’s Ubulembu is a remarkable mix of settings, characters, and time periods that flow effortlessly between ages past and the fraught future. Regardless of the epoch in which readers find themselves, Smith swiftly makes us at home; we become participants in his stories, not mere observers. The collection of sixteen stories is unified by an irreverent freshness delivered in consistently delicious language. Each story was my favorite until I read the next one. Smith has given readers an adventure in the truest sense: there is surprise and reward at every turn. Ubulembu is a distinctive addition to American literature.

-Richard C. McPherson, Final Judge and Author of Man Wanted in Cheyenne

Congrats to our 2023 finalists


Joan Wilking, After the Fire

Ruyan Meng, The Morgue Keeper

Antonio Elefano, Lolita Rising

Emily Hyland, Divorced Business Partners

J. Eric Smith, Ubulembu and Other Stories


Paul Hackley, Old Rag

Michelle Ephraim, GREEN WORLD: A Tragicomic Memoir of Love & Shakespeare

Antonio Elefano, Lolita Rising

Hannah Kennedy, The Little Book of Modern Farce

Khanh Ha, An Artist's Legacy

J. Eric Smith, Ubulembu and Other Stories

Ruyan Meng, The Morgue Keeper

Joan Wilking, After the Fire

Lena Zycinsky, Bela

Suzanne Heagy, The Five Time Wife

S. K. Stringer, The Big Belt of Happiness

JoeAnn Hart, Arroyo Circle

R. Simon, Bird, Bone, Blood

Josh Rivera Jiménez, Dinner Party from Hell

Morgan Christie, Oceans Full of Water

Robyn Carter, Impossible Object

Alex Stanley, The Other Night

Ryan Ridge, The Weird Years

Emily Hyland, Divorced Business Partners

J. Eric Smith

J. Eric Smith

Portrait by Coleman Camp, 2019

2022 Book Prize Winner


Now available. Order from us, B&N, Amazon, or direct.

Congrats to our 2022 finalists


Julie Benesh, Flyover Girls: Stories

Mickey Revenaugh, The Airport Series

Kim Magowan and Michelle Ross, Inadequate Methods of Self-Preservation


Julie Benesh, Flyover Girls: Stories

Joshua Bernstein, Lives of the Mind

Efrosini Camatsos, The Duct-Tape Diary

Will Clattenburg, Flood the Garden

John Loonam, Music the World Makes

Kim Magowan and Michelle Ross, Inadequate Methods of Self-Preservation

Ruyan Meng, Scent of the City

Rafael Moscatel, The Bastard of Beverly Hills

Midge Raymond, Rogue Valley: Stories

Brandy Reinke, Great Deaths of the Con

Mickey Revenaugh, The Airport Series

Joe Taylor, Don't Be Lonely, Lone Ranger

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by Bronwen Carson

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