Uncharted Magazine Novel Excerpt Prize Judged by Sequoia Nagamatsu - Uncharted
By Uncharted

This contest is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered! We’ll have a longlist in around ten weeks!

We invite writers to submit to the Uncharted Magazine Novel Excerpt Prize from March 1 to April 30, 2023. We’re looking for the best 5,000 words or fewer of your novel in progress! Have a favorite chapter? An exciting and noteworthy prologue? A section where the dialogue crackles and the characters loom larger than life on the page? Give us a chance to read the most captivating section of your novel—and make us want to read more!

Uncharted Magazine publishes genre novel excerpts from fiction writers of any background or experience. We want excerpts that make us hunger for new worlds we can explore through sensual details and human empathy. We want excerpts that make us feel alive, that awaken our desire to go on adventures.

We’re thrilled to partner with Guest Judge Sequoia Nagamatsu, who will choose three prize winners from a shortlist. The three co-winners of this prize will each receive $1,000 and publication. All entries will be considered for publication.

Good luck and happy writing!

Sequoia Nagamatsu is the author of the national bestselling novel How High We Go in the Dark (2022), a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and the story collection Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone (2016). His work has appeared in publications such as Conjunctions, The Southern Review, ZYZZYVA, Tin House, The Iowa Review, Lightspeed Magazine, and One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories, and has been listed as notable in The Best American Nonrequired Reading and The Best Horror of the Year. Other honors include a fellowship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and shortlist inclusions for the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize, the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize, and the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, as well as longlist inclusions for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and the PEN/Hemingway Award. He was educated at Grinnell College (BA) and Southern Illinois University Carbondale (MFA), and he teaches creative writing at St. Olaf College and the Rainier Writing Workshop Low-Residency MFA program. He is originally from O’ahu, Hawaiʻi, and the San Francisco Bay Area and currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife, the writer Cole Nagamatsu, their cat Kalahira, their real dog Fenris, and a Sony Aibo robot dog named Calvino. He is at work on two other novels.


  • Please send novel excerpts (fiction) only—5,000 word count maximum.
  • We only consider unpublished work for contests—we do not review reprints, including self-published work (even on blogs and social media). Reprints will be automatically disqualified.
  • Simultaneous submissions are okay—please notify us and withdraw your entry if you find another home for your writing.
  • Multiple entries are also okay—but each submission must be accompanied by a separate reading fee of $20.
  • All entries will also be considered for publication in Uncharted Magazine.
  • Double-space your submission and use Times New Roman 12 (or larger if needed).
  • Please include a brief cover letter with your publication history and content warnings (if applicable).
  • We only read work in English, though some code-switching is warmly welcomed.
  • We do not read anonymous submissions. However, shortlisted stories are sent anonymously to the judge.
  • Note: To ensure the protection of our volunteer readers and to keep Uncharted a safe space, please let us know in your cover letter if your work can be triggering in any way. This information will have no bearing on your submission or our decision—we just want to ensure the best possible environment for our readers. Thank you for your understanding.

Some Submittable Hot Tips:

Please be sure to whitelist/add to contacts, so notifications do not get filtered as spam/junk: notifications@email.submittable.com.

If you realize you sent the wrong version of your piece: It happens. Please DO NOT withdraw the piece and resubmit. Submittable collects a nonrefundable fee each time. Please DO message us from within the submission to request that we open the entry for editing, which will allow you to fix everything from typos in your cover letter to uploading a new draft. The only time we will not allow a change is if the piece is already under review by a reader.


Q: What am I supposed to write in my cover letter?

A: Think of your cover letter as a brief author bio, that is, what you would like posted on our site should your piece be selected for publication. Don’t overthink it, we just want to know a little about you! Most writers choose to include publication history or something about the excerpt that is being submitted. Note that you can include personal or identifying information in your cover letter.

Q: When can I expect to hear back about my excerpt?

Regardless of acceptance or decline, you will hear back from us, we promise. You can expect a status update within eight to twelve weeks from the day you submit for this prize.

Q: When will I hear back about my submission and/or the results of the contest?

A: Every submitter is notified of a decision, and we send out responses once a submission doesn’t advance to the next round. We’d also encourage you to follow us on social media as we publicly announce winners and contest opportunities there.

Q: Are prologues acceptable?

A: You can absolutely submit your novel’s prologue as long as the entire submission is under 5,000 words.

Q: Do you accept submissions from writing teams?

A: Yes! However, you would need to designate one person as the submitter—or maybe create a joint Submittable account. We love to see teams enter their work, as long as you all understand that you’d be splitting the prize if the submission was selected as one of the winners.

Q: Who retains the rights to my work, and will I be able to query my novel later?

A: We’re not able to speak for every publisher, but since we’re not publishing your work in its entirety, future publication should not be a problem. Rights also revert back to the author after ninety days. If an opportunity arises for you to publish your work before these ninety days, we are happy to revert rights back to you sooner.


You may choose to receive editorial feedback on your piece. We will provide a global letter discussing the strengths of the writing and the recommended focus for revision. Our aim is to make our comments actionable and encouraging. These letters are written by editors and staff readers of Uncharted Magazine. A significant portion of the editorial letter fees goes to our feedback editor, according to the rates established by the EFA. Should your story win, no feedback will be offered, and your fee will be refunded.