South Carolina Arts Commission

South Carolina Arts Commission

South Carolina Novel Prize

books laid out on a table spine side up

Every other year, the South Carolina Novel Prize recognizes one of South Carolina’s exceptional writers.

The contest is highly competitive, and the winner is provided a book contract with Hub City Press. Submissions will be read anonymously by our readers and judge. Winner is awarded publication by Hub City Press in the form of a printing of no less than 2000 copies to be nationally distributed to the trade in 2021. This can bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and opportunities in the literary community.

The S.C. Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press, and South Carolina Humanities. The South Carolina State Library is a founding partner.

S.C. Novel Prize entries are submitted online only. Multiple file types are accepted, including Word and PDF. No paper applications will be accepted.

Submission Period Opens: January 2, 2020

Submission Deadline: Now March 23, 2020 after extension

The Award

The winning author will receive:

  • a book contract with Hub City Press, an award-winning independent press in Spartanburg, South Carolina;
  • a $1,000 advance against royalties upon successful execution of the contract with Hub City;
  • and Hub City will publish at least 2,000 copies of the book, which includes a book for every public library branch in the state.

The winning author will also receive invitations from the College of Charleston, South Carolina Humanities, and the South Carolina State Library and to appear and sign books at significant events.

Hub City Press will promote the book through social media and by mailing galleys and news releases to national and regional reviewers and to key booksellers. Additionally, Hub City will set up author appearances at book festivals, bookstores, colleges and libraries. The S.C. Arts Commission will promote the winner and the book to media outlets, on the agency’s websites, and through social media; the South Carolina State Library will purchase a book for each public library branch in the state; and South Carolina Humanities will promote the winner and the book on its website and at special events.

March 23, 2020 is the deadline to submit a manuscript(s).

Manuscripts and résumés must be submitted online before 5 p.m. no later than the stated date.


Summer 2020


The applicant must:

  1. Be a legal resident of the U.S. and S.C. with a permanent residence in the state for one (1) year prior to the application deadline (twelve consecutive months);
  2. Be 18 years of age or older at the time of application;
  3. May have published a novel, a book of nonfiction, short stories, poetry or children’s literature.
  4. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, as long as winning author is willing to withdraw it from consideration elsewhere upon accepting the S.C. Novel Prize.
  1. Only manuscripts between 150 and 400 (single-sided) pages are eligible;
  2. Submission must be an original work of which the applicant is the sole author.
Other Information
  • We cannot give reasons for refusal or enter into correspondence or make suggestions, edits, or recommendations about submitted manuscripts.
  • No entry fees will be returned.
  • We will accept multiple entries from one author (no more than three [3] novels will be accepted).
  • The winning author will agree to at least five public appearances/book signings around the state.

The S.C. Novel submission process is an easy, online-only process. 

Clicking the button below will open Submittable, where you can sign in or create a user name and password. You will then complete the application page, upload your manuscript and résumé, and enter your credit card information.

Filing Fee


Hub City Press reserves the right not to publish any of the submissions that have been solicited. Each submission must be accompanied by a processing fee of $35, payable by debit/credit card with online submission. No entry fees will be returned.

Application Materials

Applicants must submit a manuscript and résumé online. Manuscripts submitted separately will not be processed.

  • Upload one copy of your manuscript. Multiple file types are accepted.
    • Name your manuscript using the novel’s title, NOT your name.
    • The title of the novel must appear on the upper right-hand corner of each page of the manuscript.
    • Applicant’s name and address MUST NOT appear anywhere on the work submitted. This includes the title page, headers and footers.
    • Manuscripts must be double spaced on 8 ½ by 11 pages. Pages must be numbered.
    • Font must be no smaller than 12 point.
  • If you are submitting more than one novel for consideration, please complete a separate online upload for each novel. No more than three (3) manuscripts will be accepted.
Current Résumé

Résumé must not exceed three pages in length. The résumé will be used to prepare biographical information in the event the applicant is selected as winner of the competition. Résumés are not submitted with manuscripts for review.

Applicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make their judgments on the basis of artistic merit. Three to four novels will be judged by author Stephanie Powell Watts.

Stephanie Powell Watts photo by Bob WattsStephanie Powell Watts won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for her debut story collection, We Are Taking Only What We Need (2012), also named one of 2013’s Best Summer Reads by O: The Oprah Magazine. Her short fiction has been included in two volumes of the Best New Stories from the South anthology and honored with a Pushcart Prize.

Ms. Powell Watts’s stories explore the lives of African Americans in fast food and factory jobs, working door to door as Jehovah’s Witness ministers, and pressing against the boundaries of the small town, post-integration South. Her debut novel, titled No One Is Coming to Save Us, follows the return of a successful native son to his home in North Carolina and his attempt to join the only family he ever wanted but never had. As Ms. Powell Watts describes it, “Imagine The Great Gatsby set in rural North Carolina, nine decades later, with desperate black people.”

Born in the foothills of North Carolina, with a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri and a bachelor’s from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she now lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where she is an associate professor at Lehigh University.

Provided photo by Bob Watts.

The South Carolina Arts Commission

The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants and leadership initiatives in three areas: arts education, community arts development and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources.

Hub City Press

Hub City Press was founded in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1995 and since then has emerged as one of the South’s premier independent presses. Focused on finding and spotlighting new and extraordinary voices from the American South, the press has published more than 80 high-caliber literary works, including novels, short stories, poetry, memoir, and books emphasizing the region’s culture and history. Hub City is interested in books with a strong sense of place and committed to introducing a diverse roster of lesser-heard Southern voices. For more information, visit or call 864.577.9349.

College of Charleston

The College of Charleston is home not only to a cadre of nationally and internationally recognized writing faculty, but also houses one of the country’s premiere literary journals, Crazyhorse, published since 1960 and consistently ranked as among the top publishing venues in the nation. The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program provides students an immersion in a world of prose and poetry and the practical aspects of establishing a career in the arts. Students from across the country have the opportunity to study writing, literature, publishing and the arts at large and to build a community of life-long relationships with the art of writing at its center. For more information, please visit or call 843.805.5507.

The South Carolina State Library

The South Carolina State Library develops, supports, and sustains a thriving statewide community of learners committed to making South Carolina stronger. The Library serves the people of South Carolina by supporting state government and libraries to provide opportunities for learning in a changing environment. It is the primary administrator of federal and state support for the state’s libraries. In 1969, as the result of action by the General Assembly, the State Library Board was redesignated as the South Carolina State Library and assumed responsibility for public library development, library service for state institutions, service for the blind and physically handicapped, and library service to state government agencies. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Library is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and other sources. For more information, please visit or call 803.734.8666.

South Carolina Humanities

South Carolina Humanities is the state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The mission of South Carolina Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. South Carolina Humanities programs and initiatives are balanced, reflect sensitivity to a diversity of ideas, encourage open dialogue, demonstrate integrity, and are ethical in operations. For more information, visit or call 803.771.2477.


Scott Sharpe of Eastover received the prize in 2018 for his manuscript, Whispering in the Wind, released by Hub City Press in 2019 under the name A Wild Eden.


Brock Adams of Spartanburg won the 2016 First Novel Prize. His novel, Ember, was published by Hub City Press in September 2017.


James McTeer‘s 2014 winning novel, Minnow, received starred reviews in Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews and favorable reviews in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Los Angeles Review of Books. The book is now in its second printing.


Susan Tekulve won the 2012 First Novel prize with her book In the Garden of Stone. Tekulve’s book has sold thousands of copies and was reviewed in national magazines and journals. Her book tour included four states and several book festivals. Tekulve’s work is now represented by a New York agent.


Matt Matthews of Greer was the winner of the 2010 competition. His book, Mercy Creek, was published in 2011. Brian Ray of Columbia was the winner of the inaugural novel competition. His book, Through the Pale Door, was published by Hub City in June 2009. Both books have been widely and favorably reviewed across the Southeast.