NWG Publication Resources

Nebraska Writers Guild Publications Resources

Thanks for checking out our resources page! The resources below have been made available to help you navigate and prepare for our annual contests and publications. These resources may also help you in preparing to submit your work to other publishers and contests.

author writing ideas in notebook

General Submission Guidelines

Each of our contests and publications has unique guidelines to follow; however, this list of general guidelines will at least get you part way there.

Event-specific guidelines will be posted as each event is announced, so keep an eye out for those as they become available each year.

The following are general guidelines for submitting to an NWG contest or publication. Guidelines may vary per event, so please read each event’s specific guidelines as they are made available.

Entry Fee

Entry Fee:

There is a fee for submitting to the annual poetry contest. Fees may vary from year to year. Submitting to the annual publications is completely free.

Entry Requirements:

Entry requirements vary. Check the guidelines for the contest or publication you’re submitting to.

Entries Defined:

The number of entries allowed varies, but you can bank on the following:

  • Short stories, essays, memoirs, novel excerpts, etc. must be no longer than 5000 words.
  • Flash fiction must be no longer than 1000 words.
  • A single poem of any length constitutes a single entry.

Simultaneous Submissions:

Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please let us know if an entry has been simultaneously submitted elsewhere. If an entry is accepted by another publication, you must withdraw it from consideration by the NWG (publications only; this guideline does not apply to the poetry contest).


We do not accept previously published work for the poetry contest or the poetry and flash fiction collections; however, we do for the Voices anthology, as long as you have republication rights per your agreement with your previous publisher (obviously not an issue if that previous publisher was you).

If you are submitting an entry that has been previously published, please include the appropriate republication language at the end of your entry. Below are some suggestions:

  • Originally published in [name of publication], [issue number], [year], [page number].
  • Originally published online by [name of website/blog].
  • Reprinted with permission by [name of previous publisher].

NOTE: Republications must be submitted with a letter from the original publisher giving permission for reprint, or you should provide proof that you retain or have regained publishing rights.

Appropriate Content:

Regardless of whether you’re submitting to a contest or a publication, mature content and questionable language should be appropriate and not excessive or gratuitous in nature. We are not likely to accept explicit content. Content which supports or attempts to spread racism or other intolerance will not be accepted.


Do not include the author’s name anywhere in your files. Any entries including the author’s name will be disqualified.

We do not have any particular requirements regarding font, size, or line spacing. However, most publications require 12pt Times New Roman, 1.5 line spacing, so it’s not a bad idea to get into the habit of saving your files with these settings.

Also note the following:

  • Acceptable File Formats: .docx, .pdf, .pages, .rtf, Google Docs
  • Poetry:
    • Long lines of poetry may break mid-line to accommodate the size of the book. Check the guidelines for the book you’re submitting to, and adjust your line lengths accordingly.
    • Use only one blank line between stanzas (even if that causes a stanza to break across two pages).
  • Fiction/Nonfiction:
    • Do not add extra returns between paragraphs.
    • Do not use tabs or spaces to indent paragraphs (set a first-line indent instead).
    • If you need a visual break between sections, please add a line of asterisks (* * *) or some other symbol so the break is easy to distinguish and understand.
  • General Formatting:
    • Titles should use initial caps only, not all caps.
    • Do not add extra built-in space above or below paragraphs (“space above”/ “space below”).
    • Use only one space after periods and colons. (This is publishing industry standard and is a good habit to get into when writing for publication.)
    • No illustrations, images, or emoticons please.

Author Bio:

We request a bio for the Voices anthology. A few key things to note about writing a bio:

  • We have a 50-word limit.
  • Bios are generally written in third person.
  • A bio can list your professional accomplishments, describe your hobbies, mention your family and where you live, or simply make random, perhaps silly, comments about you.
  • Sample Bio (48 words):
    • John Doe is a lawyer with a heart (who knew?!) who loves to write poetry on the weekends. John has been published in several anthologies, including the Whatseewhosit Anthology and Anthology of Something or Other. John lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with his wife and three kids, er, dogs.


  • Entries for publication are not edited. They are, however, proofread for errors and to ensure that spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc. follow our anthology formatting guidelines. Note that careful attention is given to ensure that changes are not made that would interfere with the author’s intent.
  • Authors are given a chance to review most of the changes before they are made.
  • Punctuation and other style considerations follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition. Spelling follows the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.
  • The NWG accepts no responsibility for any errors occurring in original entry files that happen to get printed, so authors are highly encouraged to proofread their entries carefully before submitting.


  • Entries can only be withdrawn in the case of simultaneous submissions (see above).
  • No revisions (except proofreading changes) will be allowed after an entry is received.
  • Evaluators may disqualify any work for violating any and all requirements listed above.

As always, we encourage you to ask any questions you have. Knowledge is power!

The NWG has multiple email accounts set up that you can reach out to; however, please note that not all accounts are monitored year-round. If you receive an auto-reply to your email, go to the NWG website and reach out via the Contact Us page.

  • nwgpoetrycontest@gmail.com (re: poetry contests)
  • nwgpoetrycollection@gmail.com (re: poetry published collections)
  • nwgflashfiction@gmail.com (re: flash fiction published collections)
  • voicesfromtheplains@gmail.com (re: annual published anthology)

Judging Criteria

Currently, we have seven categories that we publish: poetry, short story, flash fiction, memoir, essay, novel excerpt, and miscellaneous nonfiction.

For each of these categories, we have defined five essential elements that are evaluated during judging, and we thought it might be nice to share those with you!

As you prepare to submit your work, take some time to evaluate it for yourself against our criteria and see how you measure up. Ensuring that you meet or exceed these criteria before you submit will increase your chances of success!

Poetry Contest Prize Policy

In the interest of total transparency, we offer a full explanation for how prizes are awarded in our annual poetry contest. Our contest is about celebrating poets, not just poetry, and we want to recognize a varied and diverse group every year. This policy explains how we do that as well as how prizes are awarded in the case of ties.

How Prizes Are Awarded for the NWG Poetry Contest

How Prizes Are Awarded for the NWG Poetry Contest

The contest awards the top three highest scores as follows:

  • First Place: $100.00
  • Second Place: $50.00
  • Third Place: $25.00

In the event of a tie, all authors receive one payout for the place they tied for. In other words, if a single author ties for the same place with more than one poem, that author receives only one payout. Think of it this way, the prize is for the place the author wins, not for the number of poems the author wins with.

A single author cannot win more than one prize, regardless of how many poems the author submits. If an author scores in more than one of the top three places, the highest score will be awarded and the other score(s) will be set aside. For example, if an author has poems scoring in the first and third places, the first place score will be awarded and the third place score will be set aside. The fourth highest scored poem will then move up to the third-place position.

The reason for this is that we want to recognize a variety of authors and prevent any one author from holding a monopoly over that recognition. That said, if an author were to have two or more poems that all score for the same place, as in examples #2 and #3 above, all poems with that same score will be recognized (i.e., an author can win only one place, but they can win that place with more than one poem).


  • Author 1 and Author 2 tie for second place with one poem each. Both authors receive $50.00.
  • Author 1 and Author 2 tie for second place, but Author 1 has TWO poems with the second-place-winning score, and Author 2 has one poem. Author 1 does not receive $50.00 per poem, but rather receives one $50.00 payout. Author 2 also receives $50.00.
  • Author 1 ties for second place with Author 1! As in example #2 above, Author 1 receives $50.00, not $100.00.

All awarded poems will be published in that year’s NWG anthology.

Anthology Style Sheet

Curious about the punctuation, capitalization, formatting, and other rules we follow to make the anthology consistent and professional from cover to cover? Check out our style sheet, and feel free to follow these rules when setting up your entries for submission. But don’t feel obligated. Our style sheet is offered up as a reference only. We’ll ensure that all rules are followed (except where breaking them is more appropriate!) before publishing.


  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary online (merriam-webster.com)

NOTE: While these are the general rules we will follow, exceptions can be made in support of the intended meaning, voice, or flow. Also, these rules do not necessarily apply to poetry.


  • Use the serial comma (a, b, and c).
  • Use an em dash (—) with no spaces around it (no hyphens).
    • Yes: She found—and it was something of a miracle—her keys in the freezer.
    • No: She found — and it was something of a miracle — her keys in the freezer.
    • No: She found–and it was something of a miracle–her keys in the freezer.
    • No: She found — and it was something of a miracle — her keys in the freezer.
    • No: She found – and it was something of a miracle – her keys in the freezer.
  • Ellipses should be formed as space-dot-space-dot-space-dot-space (except there should be no space between an ellipsis dot and a quotation mark).
    • Yes: “Well . . . uh . . . I’m not sure.”
    • No: “Well…uh…I’m not sure.”
    • No: “Well … uh … I’m not sure.”
    • No: “Well….. uh….. I’m not sure.”
  • Use smart (curved) quotation marks. No straight quotation marks.
  • Double quotation marks should be used in all instances except:
    • Use single quotation marks within double quotation marks (“I read a great article called ‘How to Use
      • Quotation Marks’ yesterday,” Martin said.).
    • Use a single closing quotation mark (apostrophe) to replace missing characters at the beginning of a word or number.
      • Yes: Summer of ’69 (curves to the left)
      • No: Summer of ‘69
    • ALL periods and commas go inside quotation marks.
      • Yes: “I can’t find my keys.”
      • Yes: “I can’t find my keys,” she said.
      • Yes: “I read a great article called ‘How to Use Quotation Marks.’”
      • Yes: “I read a great article called ‘How to Use Quotation Marks,’” Martin said.


  • Do not capitalize the word that follows a quotation in dialogue unless that word begins a new sentence.
    • Yes: “Did you see the moon last night?” she asked.
    • No: “Did you see the moon last night?” She asked.
    • Yes: “Did you see the moon last night?” She looked out the window as she spoke.
  • Use headline style capitalization for titles and headings. All words should be capitalized except the following (unless they are the first or last word):
    • Prepositions except when used as adjectives or adverbs (e.g., Turn Down Service or The On Button)
    • The articles the, a, and an
    • Coordinating conjunctions: and, but, or, nor, for
    • The words to and as, regardless of how they are used
    • Parts of proper names that would be lowercase in the text (von, de, etc.)
  • When in doubt about a word, consult merriam-webster.com.


  • Use only one space between sentences and after colons.
  • Do not underline copy except possibly for URLs. Use italicizing instead of underlining.
  • Italicize the names of books, magazines, albums, movies, and TV shows.
  • Use quotation marks for the names of chapters from books*, magazine and Internet articles, songs, and TV episodes.
  • *This refers to the names of chapters from other books that are mentioned within the text.
  • Avoid the following widows and orphans:
    • The first line of a paragraph by itself at the bottom of a page
    • The last line of a paragraph by itself at the top of a page
    • The last word of a paragraph on a line by itself (I only fix this one if I can do so without it being obvious, which is often not the case; this one is not a deal breaker)


  • When in doubt, consult merriam-webster.com.
  • In any instances of the f-bomb, replace “uck” with an em dash (f—, f—ed, f—ing).


  • Spell out numbers zero through one hundred.
  • Spell out numbers one through one hundred followed by hundred, thousand, or hundred thousand (e.g., two thousand, eight hundred, one hundred thousand).
  • Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence (including years).
  • Spell out whole numbers followed by million, billion, etc. Use numerals for fractional quantities but still spell out million and billion.
    • Yes: It happened thirty million years ago.
    • Yes: It happened 12.4 million years ago.
    • Yes: They stole between 4.5 and 5 billion dollars.
  • Consistency overrides all other rules. As in the example above (“4.5 and 5 billion dollars” in which “5” would normally be spelled out), if two or more numbers appear describing the same type of thing and one number has to be set as a numeral, then all numbers should be set as numerals.