Submit a Novel

How to Submit a Novel

Please send one digital copy (required), i.e. an easy to read PDF file, to and five hard copies to:

For standard mail

VCU Cabell First Novelist Award
c/o VCU Department of English
Hibbs Building, Box 842005
Richmond, VA 23284-2005

For FedEx, UPS, etc.

VCU Cabell First Novelist Award
c/o VCU Department of English
900 Park Ave., Suite 306
Richmond, VA 23284-2005


Submissions for the 2025 contest, which is for books published in 2024, open July 1, 2024, and closes Dec. 30, 2024. Winners will be announced in June or July 2025. 

Rules for Submission

  • The submission must be the author's first novel, published in calendar year 2024.
  • The author may have published previous books in a different form, such as collections of poems or short stories, but the submission must be their first published book marketed as a novel. This may include hybrid works such as novels-in-verse and novels-in-stories. Collections of linked short stories not marketed as novels are not eligible. Graphic novels are also not eligible.
  • The USA must be the country of first publication for the submission.
  • While books with crossover audience appeal may be considered, we reserve the right to eliminate those with a primary audience of young (YA or middle-grade) readers.
  • Books available in e-format only are not eligible.
  • Self-published novels are not eligible, nor any novel published (via a hybrid press or otherwise) using an author's financial investment or fundraising efforts.
    • Note: Since the inception of the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, the award process has served as a teaching tool for VCU's MFA in Creative Writing students and the greater Richmond community and has featured a unique examination of the traditional path a debut novel takes, from early manuscript in the writer's hands, to agent, and finally to publisher. The process is intended, in part, to illuminate the inner workings of the publishing process, including how the publishing industry acquires new novels and what makes a particular novel a success within the confines of the publishing industry. Self-published novels take a very different path and are therefore outside the scope of the award.
  • Books authored by alumni or affiliates of the VCU MFA in Creative Writing program are not eligible
  • The winning author must agree to attend the award event, usually scheduled for November.

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