Broken Pencil is the magazine of zine culture and the indpendent arts. We are a quarterly magazine based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Read more about us and check out what we do and why we do it at
Broken Pencil is looking for works of fiction from diverse writers that conform to no principles, no guidelines, and no preconceptions. We want work that hurts you to write, and us to read. Stories should be no longer than 3,000 words. Payment varies, depending on the status of our finances. Right now, we pay between $50 and $100 per piece.
Be patient. We only come out four times a year and due to the volumne of submissions it can take us a while to read your work. But we want to assure you that every story you send to us is read with care and consideration. Please note: by submitting your story to Broken Pencil you are also agreeing to becoming a recipient of our monthly e-newsletter. You can unsubscribe from our newsletter at any time.
Optional Submission Fee:
We ask for an optional submission fee to offset the cost of keeping an open submission policy. All submissions will be treated the same regardless of whether or not you opt-in to the submission fee. Friends, Broken Pencil is a not for profit magazine devoted to zines, independent print culture and fiction on the edge. Please consider supporting us!
BROKEN PENCIL ZINE AWARDS
Celebrating international zine and self-publishing excellence
Broken Pencil Magazine is excited to announce that we will once again be rewarding the best of the best in zine culture with the Broken Pencil Zine Awards 2019!
For the third year, North America's magazine of zine culture and the independent arts will be accepting submissions from all over the world in search of the finest independently published zines, comics and micro-journals.
DEADLINE TO ENTER THE ZINE AWARDS IS JULY 1, 2019
We will be rewarding fabulous zinesters for their eminence in the following categories:
- Political zine – zines dealing with issues of oppression, activism, organizing, political identity, intersectionality, feminism, anti-racism, queer struggles, political histories and resistance
- Perzine – text-centric, diary zines, personal reflections & essays, thought bubbles, etc. Text-heavy, serial zines as well as multimedia (no comics!)
- Comic zine – indie/underground comics zines, mini-comics, illustrated storytelling, experimental comix, cartooning, stripis, comic jams etc.
- Artzine – illustration compilations, sketchbook zines, silkscreen, risograph, woodcut zines that are not comics, photozines, design-oriented stuff, illustrations, photography, 3D and conceptual, low-fi artbooks etc.
- Compilation zine – a zine containing multiple pieces/texts by more than two authors, typically around a specific topic e.g. "Consent(sus): 13 writers on queer men & consent" or "Reviews of shit we hate #10."
- Literary zine – poems, stories, flash fiction, serializations, chapbooks, literary experiments, post-literature, text as art and all that stuff
- Micro literary journal – literary journals (printed on a press) that publish fewer than 750 copies per issue
- Fanzine – genre fanzines, pop culture zines, concert reviews, punk music, record reviews, tour diaries, anything music or entertainment focused!
We wanted to acknowledge a range of zines while also comparing them to their peers, so we developed these categories. Of course, not all zines fit in categories smoothly — some might contain elements of more than one, and some might not fit any of these at all. When it comes time to submit, please pick the closest matching category you see!
What counts as a zine?
- We welcome all levels of experience and practice, from long-time zinesters to first time creators!
- Not sure if your publication counts as a zine? Let's figure it out!
- What is a zine? In general, zines are shorter, do-it-yourself or community-based publications. Zines can take many forms and have many traditions. They are produced independently (rather than by a publisher or magazine). Many, but certainly not all zines are photocopied, staple- or thread-bound and affordable (folks like to break these rules, too!). Zine titles can be one-offs or serialized in multiple issues. Lots of zine creators share their work through personal networks, zine distributors, zine festivals and fairs, and online. Check out brokenpencil.com to see hundreds of examples.
- Signs your entry might not be a zine include: it costs more than $20, it has an ISBN number, it has no pages or no printed form, it's longer than 100 pages, it's literally just a Word document, you're pretty sure it's not a zine after looking at examples. That said, there are exceptions to every rule (except for the Word doc thing). Chapbooks, micro-journals, and art zines in particular might be exceptions to these due to length, publisher, or price. If you're really not sure, email email@example.com and ask us what we think!
Other eligibility criteria and notes:
- All publications entered should be made in the following time period: April 2018 - June 2019.
- We accept entries from anywhere in the world, but non-English language works should be accompanied by translation so our judges can fully evaluate them. Otherwise, we'll do our best!
- We will accept entries from 1 to 100 pages in length. Because of the large volume of entries, we can't guarantee that the judges will read more than 15,000 words of any given entry. Thanks for understanding!
- We welcome all zine creators, from long-time zinesters to first time creators! Not sure if your publication counts as a zine? Let's figure it out! What is a zine?
How to Enter
Step 1. Register your entry and pay the submission fee
Select Broken Pencil Zine Awards 2019 and select your price. The entry fees for the BPZA go toward funding the prizes, honoraria for judges, and administration.
You can submit up to three zines made between April 2018 and June 2019.
Not a current Broken Pencil Subscriber?
Your first zine submission has an entry fee of $25. This includes a 1 year subscription to Broken Pencil magazine worth $32! (Overseas entries will receive the digital edition of Broken Pencil due to the high cost of mailing.)
~ Got more than one zine? You can also add second and third submissions for $10 each. Fill out a new form for each and select the additional zine option. There’s a maximum of three zines per person. You’ll be prompted to select one category for each purchase.
Already a Broken Pencil subscriber?
~ Existing Broken Pencil Members can submit their first zine for $14, and get their second and third submission FREE!
~Submit your second and third submissions by uploading them in the PDF section of the form.
~ If the price of entry is a barrier for you, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org about accessing a sliding scale entry fee.
~For current BP subscribers submitting 2-3 zines, do this all in the same form. List each title in the Zine Title form, and include the category in parenthesis if they are different. Please signal the category in the PDF file names as well! If you need to clarify any details about the zines, send us an email at email@example.com
By entering the contest, entrants agree to be added to the Broken Pencil weekly email newsletter list. Entrants may unsubscribe at any time.
Step 2. Send us your zine
There are two ways to get your zine to us.
- You can either send us an electronic copy by attaching a PDF of your zine to your Submittable order.
- Or you can mail us some zines (two copies of each entry). If possible, please, please submit a PDF copy of each entry, even if you mail us physical copies as well.
If you are mailing us a zine, Submittable will still require you to attach a PDF. If you do have a PDF of your zine handy, please attach it, even though you are mailing it too. This helps us have images handy when we do the awards show and magazine spreads of the finalists and winners. If you really don't have a digital copy, attach a PDF telling us to check our mail.
To mail your zine to us:
1. When you pay on our Submittable page, it should generate a unique receipt.
2. Save and print this receipt!
3. Send a copy of the receipt along with two (2) copies of your zine in the mail. We have a Canadian and an American address.
- Canada: Broken Pencil Zine Awards, PO Box 203, Stn P, Toronto ON M5S2S7 Canada • Note: Please use Canada Post to mail to our Canada address.
- United States Postal Service: Broken Pencil, PO Box #177, Sanborn, NY 14132 USA
- US Courier e.g. UPS, FedEx: c/o #177 -- 2901 Niagara St., Sanborn, NY 14132 USA
Unless requested otherwise, all entries will also be considered for review and excerpted in the magazine as part of Broken Pencil’s ongoing reviews of zines from around the world.
The deadline of July 1st means you must have registered your zine through Submittable by that date. Please mail your zine as soon as possible after registration!
Note: When you submit your zine, you will also be asked to provide an image file of the zine cover, and a headshot of the zine maker/editor in case you are a finalist or winner so have those ready to go.
Step 3. Wait while judging magic occurs!
Our team of judges from across the zine creator spectrum, with support from Broken Pencil’s editorial team, will deliberate over the zines and select winners in each of the categories. They will judge each category based on their content, form, creativity, talent, innovation and general merit.
In the case that there is one zine which clearly takes the cake, the judging panel may also decide to award one overall Zine of the Year Award to one of the category winners.
Step 4. Finalists are announced!
There will be 5-8 finalists in each category. Finalists will be notified by August 15th if they have been selected, and will be announced on the Broken Pencil website!
Step 5. Winners
The Zine Awards will be awarded live and in person on September 14th as part of The Canzine Festival of Zines and Underground Culture held annually in Toronto at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
We unfortunately cannot provide travel or accommodation funding for our nominees at this time. However if you plan to come to Canzine and accept your award in person, we can offer you a complimentary exhibitor table, hype up your appearance, give you some time to present at the Awards Ceremony and generally help you out.
Step 6. Grand Prize?!!
Each of the winners will receive a trophy, $200 cash, stickers to put on their zine indicated they are a winner and more. Should the judges deem one of the winning zines the Zine of the Year, the creator will win an additional $200!
Winners will also be profiled in Broken Pencil Magazine and on brokenpencil.com, along with excerpts from the winning zines. Should you wish to participate, winners and nominees will also be sold on the BP online store, sold at special displays at zine fairs and stores, and presented at special displays at libraries.