Requirements for Submission
Bessie Head Short Story Awards

Once again this year, the Bessie Head Heritage Trust is offering a short story competition, open to citizens and residents of Botswana. This year, to honour fifty years of Botswana's independence, the competition calls for stories that deal with the theme of independence. "Independence" can mean national independence, but it can also mean a child's independence from its parents, or a woman's independence from men, or a parent encouraging a child's independence, or moving away from home for the first time, or travelling on one's own for the first time. These are only a few among countless possibilities. We will look for originality in addressing this theme, regardless of how it is treated in the story.

No novels, poems, or children's stories will be accepted. All stories must be submitted electronically as attachments to Note that we will not accept hard copies. All submissions must adhere to the following guidelines. Those submissions that do not will be automatically disqualified.

  1. All work must be original and unpublished, and you should state on the cover page that the story is yours, that it has not already been published, and that it is not currently submitted elsewhere.
  2. All work must be in English and have been thoroughly revised and proofread for grammar and spelling.
  3. Only one entry per person.
  4. No school assignments will be accepted.
  5. All submissions must include a cover page with name (no pen names will be accepted), two reliable ways of contacting you (email, postal address, telephone number, cell number), the title of the story, and an accurate word count. The word limit is 5,000 words (it can be less than 5,000 words, but not more).
  6. The first page of the story must also include the title of the story.
  7. The rest of the submission must not contain any identifying information. Except for the cover page, all submissions must be anonymous.
  8. Use a single, clear font, 12 point size. The best font to use is Times New Roman.
  9. Use clear black text on a white background. Fancy fonts and backgrounds or borders are very difficult to read and may prejudice the judges against your story.
  10. Left-justify your paragraphs. Right margins should be "ragged".
  11. Use double spacing for all your text. Do not single space.
  12. Do not insert extra lines between your paragraphs.
  13. Indent the first line of each paragraph by about 1/2 inch (1 cm.)
  14. Put the word "End" at the end of your story , centred on its own line.
  15. Authors are advised that they may be asked to authenticate their work. Do not destroy any drafts, as you may be required to produce them as proof of originality.
  16. All submissions must be attached to an email as Word documents (.doc or .docx). The subject line of the email should be Short Story Submission
  17. Email your submission by11:59 p.m. (23:59) 8 July 2016 to All submissions will be acknowledged. No late entries will be accepted.
  18. This competition is open to citizens and residents of Botswana. Winners may be asked to verify their identity and eligibility.


Bessie Head Heritage Trust members, Diamond Educational Publishing employees, contest judges, and members of their families are prohibited from entering. The Trust acknowledges the rights of copyright in the manuscript and the lawfulness of the copyright holder's rights and title to the rights of copyright in the manuscript.