This blog was featured on 08/30/2016
Seal Press Publishing Contract: Contest Guidelines
Written by
Brooke Warner
December 2012
Written by
Brooke Warner
December 2012

Kamy and I are very excited to be able to bring the community this offering from Seal Press to win a publishing contract for your nonfiction book project.

This contest is open to She Writers who are writing in the categories that Seal Press publishes. Seal Press publishes books by women for women. Learn more about Seal Press by visiting their site.

Our mission at She Writes is to support the efforts of women who write, and through this contest, we are using our networks, connections, and platform to provide one first-time woman author a publishing contract with Seal Press, for publication in spring 2014.  

The winner will be selected on the basis of the merit of her entry, which consists of a query letter and a full nonfiction book proposal. To help you along, we are including a sample Seal Press nonfiction book proposal (compliments of Cami Ostman, whose book proposal, In the Long Run, went on to become Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents.

Download Cami's proposal by clicking on this link: In%20the%20Long%20Run-Proposal.pdf.

We stress that you must submit a full nonfiction book proposal with all the necessary components. To help you along, we are also including a blank template, which you can download here: Book%20Proposal%20template.docx. (To download these files on a Mac, hold down the Control key when you hit the link and choose "Save as a downloaded file." For PCs, I'll look to the comments for guidance.)

The winner will receive this priceless prize---a book deal from Seal Press---so please take your time and make sure the proposal you’re submitting is not rushed and includes everything an editor would need to make the case for acquiring your book.  

She Writes believes that all too often, writers struggle to have their work discovered for two primary reasons: 1) it is hard to get attention when you don’t have any personal connections or contacts in the publishing industry; and 2) it is hard to know, as an outsider, exactly which agents or publishing houses to query, and how.  Through this contest, we’re thrilled to be leveraging our own relationships to be making this exclusive and very exciting offering. And we thank Seal Press SO MUCH for their support and collaboration, and for valuing the She Writes community so much that they want to join with us to offer a She Writer a publishing contract.

WHAT YOU WIN: A book deal with Seal Press, which will include the offering of an advance, which will be determined at Seal’s discretion.

WHO CAN ENTER: Anyone over the age of eighteen who is a member of She Writes (and if you’re not yet a member, please join---it’s free!!) and who is writing a nonfiction book. You may be agented or unagented to enter this contest. It does not cost any money to enter the contest.

JUDGING PROCESS: She Writes Founder Kamy Wicoff and She Writes Publisher Brooke Warner will be enrolling industry professionals to review and vet the proposals that come through. Our team will narrow down our entries to ten finalists, which we will then forward to Seal’s editorial staff to make their final decision about which book they want to acquire.


Announcement of Contest:                      Tuesday, December 10, 2012

Deadline for Submissions:                        March 15, 2013, at midnight Pacific Standard Time.  No exceptions.

Announcement of Winner:                       May 15, 2013


SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Please submit your entry to [email protected]

We ask that you paste your query letter into the body of the email and attach your nonfiction book proposal. Please address your query letter to Seal Press. Submit your proposal as a Word document or a PDF file. Please use a standard font, like Times New Roman. Please use the links above to see samples of the nonfiction book proposal that Seal Press would like to see mirrored for its submissions. We ask that you include two to four sample chapters. Do not include your entire manuscript in the proposal. In your query letter, please let us know whether or not your manuscript is complete.

1) You will be disqualified if you turn in a late entry. If your entry comes in after midnight on March 15, 2013 Pacific Standard Time, it will not be considered.
2) Your project MUST be nonfiction. Dear novelists, poets, and playwrights, we are on the search for other contests geared to you!
3) Rewrites are not accepted. In other words, please be sure you are happy with your submission before you click “send” because we will not accept rewrites, follow-up emails, additional material, etc.
4) Only one entry per person.
5) We only accept material that is unpublished. We will not accept revised or new editions of previously published work.
6) You agree to have your entry (exclusive of your contact information) shared with the SW community, and to let us use it for promotional purposes.
7) You must be eighteen to enter.

By entering the contest, you agree to our terms and conditions.



I live outside of the United States. Can I still enter the contest?
Yes. Please note, however, that all entries must be submitted in English.

How will I know if my entry arrived?
We will respond with a brief notification that we have received your entry.

What about rights?
You will sign a contract with Seal Press and negotiate the terms of your publication with them upon being declared the winner of the contest.

Can I use a pseudonym?
We prefer that all authors publish under their "real name," by which we mean the name they use out in the world. The main issue here has to do with marketing and publicity, and we want to be able to promote the winner in a way that sometimes publishing under a pseudonym prohibits. We do not, however, require that you publish under your "given" or "legal" name.

Do you notify me if I don’t win?
No. You will be able to see the results on

Am a book that's been previously self-published eligible for this contest?
Please note that Seal has decided that yes, it will consider previously self-published works for the contest. Yay!

Can I submit an anthology?
No, Seal Press is looking for single-author projects.

What if I have another question that doesn’t appear here?
Feel free to email us your questions at: [email protected] with QUESTION in the subject line.


Thank you and good luck! Again, we’re thrilled to be able to bring the community this very exciting offering.

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

519 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (7)

123 articles
392 articles
54 articles
60 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

  • We are announcing the five finalists today!

  • Hi Brooke,

    I did not receive confirmation. My computer froze in the middle of transmission so I sent it again with query letter.





  • You're so welcome, Mani. We want the experience to be a positive one!

  • Mani Feniger

    Thank you to Brooke and SheWrites for such amazing communication. I did get my confirmation for the proposal for THE WOMAN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH. I submitted even though I self published last June. One of the reasons I self published was because the world of publishing is hard to get in communication with (and moves very slowly). Having messages responded to and returned as you have been doing Brooke is very rare and so re-assuring to writers who feel vulnerable and are so brave to write and share their work. I wanted to acknowledge your generosity.

  • Hi Kristy, don't fear. I'll go check the inbox and see what happened. Anyone else who hasn't received confirmation by now please let me know here or directly at brooke [a] shewritespress [dot] com.

  • Kristy Crabtree

    Yikes! I submitted mine on the 15th at 9:13PM EST and still haven't received a confirmation! Is there somewhere I can check?  I see that others received theirs already

  • Yes, Lesly! Congrats to all of you!

  • Golda Poretsky

    Thanks to all the folks who have allayed my fears. :)

  • Thanks Brooke

    The success is in the experience! We all wrote proposals, YESSSSS!!

  • We got 85 submissions total for this contest. Solid, but not too crazy. We will keep you all posted about developments. Again, good luck!

  • Thanks, everybody. We are responding one by one and if you sent last night you will get confirmation this weekend. We're not being super strict about the midnight cutoff so don't worry. If you sent it you're all good! Good luck to all!

  • Naomi Young Carter

    I sent mine at 10:30 Pacific time I hope mine went through

  • Sent mine a few hours ago; no confirmation yet. When do we worry?

  • Andrea Culletto

    Hi! It took a little while for the confirmation to come through on mine. I think you're right Mani, I think they're sending them personally. So excited for this great opportunity!

  • Mani Feniger

    Hi sister proposal senders, fyi, I sent mine a few hours ago and haven't heard back. I am guessing that they are flooded with almost deadline submissions and are not automated but kind enough to respond to each one. All my projection, but maybe when any of us get a confirmation, we can post for the others. I'll go with trusting they got our proposals and have their hands full. Good luck everyone.

  • Sonja Larsen

    OK Little Miss Worrywart here but did people receive their acknowledgement of submission right away? I thought I'd get an instant automated response but I haven't received one so I'm wondering if | should resend or...worry? 

  • Sonja Larsen

    Just sent off my proposal! Thanks for this amazing opportunity and encouragement. Wondering how you will verify our membership in Shewrites so I thought I'd post again here just to prove it :) Totally agree with Golda, it was just the motivation I needed. 

  • Golda Poretsky

    How soon do the confirmations go out?  I'm worried that if I don't receive a confirmation before the deadline tonight I may not know if it was received.

  • Golda Poretsky

    Thanks, Lesly.  Yes.  It certainly was.

  • Brooke, I hope you received it, my computer froze in the middle of the transmission, so I sent again.

  • @Golda, I totally agree. I completed my first proposal it was a true learning experience. Thanks Brooke

  • Golda Poretsky

    I just sent mine in! I'm so excited it. Whatever happens, this was a great motivator to finish my proposal.  Thanks for this opportunity!

  • Mani Feniger

    Thanks for all the encouraging comments. I just submitted my book proposal for "The Woman in the Photograph" for this contest. Even though I self published it last June, I would love to support it building a bigger reach and affecting women's (and men's) lives.

    Whew! Getting a proposal together was really a huge undertaking. Bravo to everyone who has entered the fray. May all our words create new possibilities.

  • Andrea Culletto

    Thanks Brooke! I just re-submitted my proposal package. Could you take a look just to be sure it came through? I'm trying not to be neurotic, but I don't want to miss out because of an email glitch! ;) Thanks again for this great opportunity! 

  • @Linda, yes, you can enter, and yes, you can bow out of the contest whenever you need to. It's a gift, not an obligation, if you win. :)