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We are happy to announce our third short story competition! This time, it’s all about steampunk. Wikipedia defines steampunk as a retrofuturistic subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery, often set in an alternative history of the 19th century British Victorian era or the American "Wild West", in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Here is the Wikipedia page about steampunk for more information about the definition and examples popular literature and media under this umbrella:

This year we are happy to announce that veteran children’s author Colin R Parsons is one of our judges. For a chance to have your own short story published in our next anthology, all you have to do is:

  • Write a short story set in a steampunk world.
  • Have a word count between 2,000 and 15,000 words.
  • Aim your story at young adults, not children.
  • Ensure that your story is an original, meaning it is not published anywhere else online or in print. (All pieces will run through a plagiarism check.)
  • Pay a £5 entry fee.

The competition closes midnight on 31st October 2020, winners will be announced during 20th January 2021.

Enter Now

If your manuscript is ready you can submit your entry online straight away. Registration should take no more than 10 minutes.

Before you begin...

  • Make sure you’ve read the Competition Terms & Conditions
  • Have your synopsis and manuscript ready to upload
  • Have a credit or debit card and/or your PayPal account details to hand

What do you win?

  • Winners will each receive a signed contract to have their short story published within the anthology, with guaranteed royalties from each sale (40% net sale split between the authors).
  • Two free paperback copies of the anthology and one hardback copy.
  • Ten free digital download codes.
  • The option to appear in our Ask Our Authors YouTube series and other videos such as interviews and livestreams.

We look forward to reading your story. Good luck everyone!

Anyone who does not win will receive a free digital edition of the finished project.

How to Enter

You will need to create a single Word document containing the following submission materials:

  • A single-spaced synopsis of your story. Please include all the main points of your plot in your synopsis, including ‘spoilers’!
  • The full manuscript, double spaced and in size 12pt font, with numbered pages.

If you have any questions regarding entry to the competition, please see our Competition FAQs or, if you can’t find your answer, please contact us here.


My online entry has failed, what should I do?

In this instance, please ensure you contact us here.

What counts under Steampunk?

We are considering steampunk as reterofuturistic science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. We also accept silkpunk, a subgenre of steampunk set in East Asian history or inspired by it. We will not consider gaslight fantasy (fantasy in an Edwardian/ Victorian setting) steampunk unless it has some type of science fiction element.

What file format can I submit?

Our upload server will accept office files, such as doc, docx, odt, rtf, txt.

What does the £5 entry fee cover?

All the fee does is cover the external judges reviewing the stories. We feel we a small team cannot like everything everyone else does which is why we are using an external team.

Can I set my story in modern times?

No. It has to be set in the past, in a future in which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world where steam power is used.

Can I enter two or more stories into the competition?

Yes, we are happy to accept multiple entries per person.

I have a literary agent. Can I still enter?

Yes, authors who have agents are eligible to enter.

I am under 18. Can I enter?

Yes. If you are under 18 and would like to enter, you will need your parent’s permission as they will need to countersign the contract.

Is the competition open to international entrants?


I’m not sure how to write a good synopsis. Can you offer me some advice?

Your synopsis should not exceed a page (single spaced). It should be a factual explanation of the events in your book: include all the major events, including the ending– no cliff-hangers, please!

Who will read my manuscript, and can they offer me some feedback?

To start off with, your manuscript will be randomly allocated to one of our external team of readers – these professionals work in children’s publishing and are experts at spotting literary talent. This team will select a long list of stories, for Kevin Peake and the Crystal Peake editorial team to review, who will then select approximately several titles for the Steampunk collection. We offer a reader’s report for all long listees but unfortunately, because of the large number of submissions received, we cannot offer feedback for everybody else. However, we do the best we can to ensure support is provided.

When will I hear whether I have been longlisted or shortlisted?

We aim to announce the winners on our website in May. You can follow us on Twitter (@crystalpeakepub) to keep up with all the latest news.

Will I be informed if I am not successful in reaching the longlist?

Due to the number of submissions we receive, we will only get in touch with you if you have been chosen to be in the collection. If you have not heard from us by the time the winners are announced, you have unfortunately been unsuccessful on this occasion. However, you are welcome to enter any future competitions.

Should I include my name in the submission, or are submissions anonymous?

Submissions are not anonymous. Please do include your name and contact details with your submission. If you wish to include a header on each page with the entry title and your name, please feel free to do so.

Haven’t heard about our last anthology, Folklore? Find out more here.