This annual prize carries a $10,000 award for an unpublished novel, collection of short stories, memoir, or essay collection. The winner will be offered a publishing contract with a new imprint at Columbus State University, DLJ Books.

Our First Winner

Michelle Herman has been awarded this year‘s prize for her novel, Close-Up.

Michelle Herman is the author of three previous novels – Missing, Dog, and Devotion – and the novella collection A New and Glorious Life, as well as three essay collections – The Middle of Everything, Stories We Tell Ourselves  (longlisted for the 2014 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay), and Like A Song (winner of the 2016 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award) – as well as a book for childrenA Girl’s Guide to Life.   She has taught creative writing since 1988 at Ohio State, where she also directs a graduate interdisciplinary program in the arts and an all-scholarship summer writing program for teenagers in Columbus, Ohio.

DLJ Books Logo

Donald L. Jordan founded a construction, real estate development and investment firm in his late teens. He began writing at age fourteen and has published non-fiction, short stories, and novels. In 1992, Mr. Jordan received the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Forest Stewardship Award which states that his practices, “leave the world a better place than you found for those who will follow.”

The Editor of DLJ Books is Allen Gee, Professor of Creative Writing at Columbus State University. He is also the Editor for the multicultural imprint 2040 Books, and has been the Editor of Gulf Coast, and served for over a decade as the Fiction Editor for Arts & Letters. His website can be found at

The Donald L. Jordan Prize for Literary Excellence

Entry Deadline: September 15th, 2020

The prize is $10,000

Authors retain all rights to their work when submitting

The winner will be offered a book contract for full-market, front list release.

There is no obligation to sign this contract.

  • One entry per $25.00
  • The contest is open to international submissions.
  • Entries may include a brief synopsis, or introductory letter. Do not send personal correspondence to the Judge or the Editor.
  • Employees of Columbus State University and people who have studied or worked with the Judge or Editor are not eligible to compete for the prize.
  • Participation in other contests and programs and pursuing publication is allowed while the prize competition is open. We do ask that you notify us (email address needed) and withdraw your entry if you sign a publishing contract elsewhere.
  • Previously published material is eligible, meaning writing (stories or excerpts) published in magazines, literary journals, and by micro presses. Self-published books are eligible. If you have already published with a small press or a NY press, your book is not eligible.
  • If a winner is not chosen by the final judge, entrants will be permitted to submit another manuscript at no cost for the contest’s following year.

The judge for the 2021 prize is writer Pam Houston.  She is the author of “Cowboys are My Weakness,” “Waltzing the Cat,” “A Little More About Me,” “Sight Hound,” “Contents May Have Shifted,” and most recently, the memoir, “Deep Creek.

We seek unpublished literary fiction, short story collections or novels, memoirs, or essay collections.  We are interested in well-crafted books, and we like American or global stories, whether the focus is on working, middle or upper class lives; we are interested in seeing the human condition illuminated in rural landscapes, suburbia, or the city.  We also like books that focus on any race, or gender, books that let readers know about struggle and perseverance, but we aren’t inclined to favor vulgarity written simply to shock.  We are not a publisher of “inspirational” writing, but we are extremely interested in manuscripts that engage a reader with upholding human values, such as trust, generosity, love, gratitude, or responsibility.  We are not inclined to publish horror, science fiction, romance, fantasy, or young adult or children’s books.

Entry Information

Please note, due to security requirements we require PDF formatting.

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