• Luminaire Award for Best Prose •

Writing Award for Best Unpublished Prose Pieces

About Alternating Current’s Luminaire Award for Best Prose

The Luminaire Award for Best Prose is Alternating Current Press’ annual writing award to recognize the best short stories, creative nonfiction, essays, flash fiction, and hybrid work submitted to the press. All prose submitted to Alternating Current is considered for the award, and there is no additional submission process. The winner is announced each spring from our prose finalists, selected by an external judge with knowledge in the craft, to receive publication, publicity, a monetary award, and other incentives from our press.

Award Process and Guidelines

Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics

We Subscribe to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) Contest Code of Ethics: CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1.) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2.) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines—defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3.) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.

Alternating Current’s Selection & Judging Process

1.) We take submissions through Submittable and use its tools and our own to accept semi-blind submissions. We say semi-blind because the Editor-in-Chief has access to the information (although she does not read or accept submissions); snail mail submissions cannot be read blind (but are also included in our process so there is a submitting option available for everyone); and the Acquisitions Editor occasionally has access to contact information provided by solicited manuscripts. The Acquisitions Editor only selects work for publication. While the Editor-in-Chief and Acquisitions Editor determine what is published on our press, they do not make judging decisions for awards.

2.) We ask submitters not to include their names, contact information, or any identifying marks within the documents, titles, and file names of submissions.

3.) Staff members of Alternating Current may have pieces published on The Coil or submit pieces for blind submission consideration, but they are not eligible to win award prizes. (Please note that some of our staffers became staff members after they won awards because they enjoyed working with our press during the process.)

4.) For all awards, the Editor-in-Chief compiles a spreadsheet of all the eligible pieces, makes sure everything is stripped of any contact information, and sends that spreadsheet to an external judge. The judge is not announced until after the contest results are tallied, and is not affiliated as a staff member of Alternating Current (although he may be a previously published author or guest editor on our press). The judge ranks his selections from 1-12 to choose the Top 12 Finalists for individual categories, including a first, second, and third place. The judge is not to announce himself as the judge until all results are tallied, and he is not to be contacted by submitters during any part of the process. Judging decisions are final.

5.) While the pieces are read blind, the judge is asked to disqualify any pieces that he may recognize as posing a personal conflict of interest. Once selected, we will reveal the winner’s name privately to the judge before announcement to clarify that there is no conflict of interest. Should there be, the next finalist in line without conflict shall become the winner. Conflicts of interest are defined as: close friends, relatives, students, and former students of the judge. We do not consider workshops to be disqualifying factors, unless the judge personally feels there is a conflict there. We leave the discretion of conflict identification up to the judge.

6.) All winners and finalists are notified prior to announcement. The results are publicly posted online at The Coil and on the press website. The locked judging spreadsheet is made publicly available, and we publish the judge’s comments.

Submit Prose to the Luminaire Award

All prose submitted through our prose portal, special projects categories, diversity category, private-invitation link, individual manuscript selection, and Submit Anything! Open-Reading periods, are entered into and considered for the next Luminaire Award, as well as for open-reading acceptance on our press through our online journal, The Coil. There is no separate submission process. We have rolling deadlines for different categories year-round, but the award period runs from December 1 of one year through November 30 of the next year, with the award announcement being made the following spring. There are first, second, third, fourth, and fifth place winners, followed by seven finalists. We also publish our semifinalists online. We will respond to all submissions within a few weeks to a few months; you do not have to wait through the whole award period to get an answer. Any prose acceptances automatically become semifinalists.

We will answer all submissions, and we do not respond to status update requests. Feedback and expedited options are available.

For those accepted for publication: Please note that we are on a yearly print schedule. All pieces accepted in 2017 will receive publication in and throughout 2018. We understand that writers get antsy to see their work printed, but please do not inquire about the status of your work or publication date. We will be in touch with you when it is your turn.

Read our general guidelines here.
Read our prose guidelines here.

Current 2017 Prize

The First Place winner receives $50 (upon publication); publication of his poem at Alternating Current Press both online (on the website award page and on The Coil) and in our triennial print anthology in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats; a complimentary print copy of the anthology; complimentary digital copies of the anthology in all formats; our virtual gold award medallion for use on book covers, social media profiles, and websites; a certificate; and a press release mailing-list blast. Second Place and Third Place receive our silver/black-and-white virtual medallion for use on book covers, social media profiles, and websites; certificates; their poems published online at our award website page; and $10 each (upon publication). The Top Five Places all receive publication in our triennial print anthology in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats and complimentary digital copies of the anthology. All Top Twelve Places are published online on The Coil, with their finalist positions indicated. All Semifinalists are published online on The Coil, without award indication. The Coil pays a small token payment for online publication of all pieces.

What is a Luminaire?

A luminaire is a complete electric light unit (used especially in technical contexts). The word comes from early 20th-century French, and some antique versions even had candles in them before electricity was widespread.

Lu•min•aire: \ˌlü-mə-ˈner\ n. Complete lighting unit, consisting of one or more lamps (bulbs or tubes that emit light), along with the socket and other parts that hold the lamp in place and protect it, wiring that connects the lamp to a power source, and a reflector that helps direct and distribute the light[1].

We chose the name specifically because it deals not only with electricity and lighting up a room, a home, a place, a world, a mind—but also because it refers to a complete lit unit, which is what we’re seeking: pieces that are complete in themselves from start to finish, pieces that have it all and light up our minds, the whole all-in-one package that outshines the rest.

[1] Concise Encyclopedia.

Luminaire Award Medallion Designers

Special thanks and acknowledgment to Devin Byrnes and SuA Kang of Hardly Square, for their creativity in designing our annual medallion imprint. Hardly Square is a strategy-, branding-, and design-based boutique located in Baltimore, Maryland, that specializes in graphic design, web design, and eLearning courses. Their invaluable design expertise has made our annual awards come to life. Learn more about our medallion designers.