Calibre Essay Prize Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t live in Australia and I am not an Australian citizen. Can I still enter the Calibre Essay Prize?

Yes. Anyone can enter the Calibre Essay Prize. But all essays must be written in English.


I’m interested in the Calibre Essay Prize but don’t know much about it. How can I familiarise myself with the competition?

This is the fourteenth time that ABR has presented this prize. Past issues containing the shortlisted and winning essays are available for subscribers to read online in our online archive or to purchase.

Click here for more information about past winners.


Why is this essay prize named Calibre?

When Australian Book Review (ABR) created the Calibre Essay Prize (or the Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay as it was then known), it was sponsored by Copyright Agency Limited (or CAL as it was then known) – very handsomely too (for several years we were able to award $10,000 to the winner of the Prize). So, when we looked for a name, we put CAL and ABR together and the result was obvious. 'Calibre' also attests to the richness of the genre in this country (and elsewhere) and to ABR’s abiding commitment to quality and excellence. When the CAL sponsorship lapsed after those seeding years, we saw no reason to change the name. Calibre it is, indefinitely!


How can I find out more about ABR?

ABR is a cultural magazine that appears in print and online ten times a year. You can order individual copies of the print edition or subscribe for one year or more. An annual digital subscription to ABR costs AU$60 – or $10 for 30 days’ access to the current issue.


When did the 2020 Calibre Essay Prize close?

Entries closed at midnight on 15 January 2020.


What is the word limit for the Calibre Essay Prize?

Essays must be between 2,000 and 5,000 words.


Is there a set theme or topic for the Calibre Essay Prize?

No, we welcome non-fiction essays of all kinds: personal or political, literary or speculative, traditional or experimental.


Is ABR an academic journal? Are you looking for academic articles?

ABR is not an academic journal, though our interests are sophisticated and we publish many academics. We are looking for general non-fiction essays that will make brilliant literary journalism.


Are images acceptable?

Yes. You may illustrate your essay, but the total file size should not exceed 3 MB.


Can I enter multiple essays as one entry?

No. Separate entries must be made, and fees paid, for each essay entered into the Calibre Essay Prize. This is to ensure that a record is kept of each essay entered, and also to ensure that payment is successfully made for each.


Is there a limit to the number of essays I can enter?

No, but as stated above, each essay must be entered and paid for separately, as individual entries.


Can I submit or publish the work I have entered in the Prize elsewhere while I await notification?

Yes, entries may be offered elsewhere during the judging of the Calibre Prize. If an entrant is longlisted and has their essay offered elsewhere, the entrant will have 24 hours to decide if they would like to withdraw their essay on offer elsewhere or from the Calibre Prize.


Can I enter by post?

No, entries must be submitted online.


I have written an essay with a colleague. Are we eligible to enter the Calibre Essay Prize?

No, entries must be single-authored.


Are translated essays eligible for entry in the Calibre Essay Prize?



To be eligible for entry in the Calibre Essay Prize, essays must not have been previously published. What constitutes ‘publication’?

Publication includes, but is not limited to, publication in print and online (for example in a journal/magazine/anthology or on a website). Publication on a personal blog/website/social media constitutes publication. If an essay has been written and assessed as part of a writing course but has not been distributed further, that does not constitute publication.


My essay was shortlisted/commended for another prize. May I enter it in the Calibre Essay Prize?

If your essay was shortlisted/commended for another prize but was not published, then it can be entered in the Calibre Essay Prize. Please contact us if you are unsure about eligibility.


Can I enter my essay using a pseudonym?

No, pseudonyms are not permitted.


Can I enter by post?

No, entries must be submitted online.


How should I format my essay?

Entries should be presented with 1.5 line spacing and in 12 pt font size. The pages should be numbered. The author’s name must not appear on the manuscript or in the name of the digital file as judging is conducted blind.


Should endnotes be included in the word count?

Yes. The maximum number of words is 5,000. While not rejecting endnotes, we discourage against the inclusion of many.


Who is eligible to pay the discounted entry fee?

Current print subscribers and yearly online subscribers may pay the discounted entry fee of AU$15 per entry. Non-subscribers pay AU$25 per entry. Full time students around the world may also enter at the $15 rate but must supply the name of the institution they attend and their student ID number as proof of eligibility. If you would like to subscribe to ABR in print or digital, click here.

Alternatively you can purchase a digital subscription with your entry for the combined price of AU$65. We will then send you your login details by email and you will be entitled to enter any additional essays at the discounted rate. We also offered combined print subscriptions and Calibre entry packages. A full list of these rates appears below:

Calibre Entry (Subscriber): $15
Calibre Entry (Full-time student): $15
Calibre Entry (Non-Subscriber): $25
Calibre Entry + ABR digital subscription: $65
Calibre Entry + ABR print subscription (Australia): $100
Calibre Entry + ABR print subscription (New Zealand/Asia): $165
Calibre Entry + ABR print subscription (Rest of World): $180

Note: Print subscribers must provide their subscriber number to be eligible for the discounted rate (this can be found on the flysheet sent out with the magazine, or on renewal notices – alternatively, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will provide you with your subscriber number). Likewise, yearly digital subscribers to ABR must provide the email address with which they registered the online subscription. Full-time students must supply the name of the institution where they are enrolled as well as their student ID number.


Can I pay with PayPal?

At this time we are accepting credit card payments only – Visa and MasterCard.


Will I receive confirmation of payment?

Yes, once you have submitted your online entry and payment form, you will receive a confirmation email at the email address you supplied in the form. Keep a copy for your records. If you cannot find the confirmation email, be sure to check that it has not gone to your spam or junk folders.


Who are the judges this year?

The 2020 judges are J.M Coetzee, Lisa Gorton, and Peter Rose.


Will you give me feedback about my essay?

Unfortunately we don’t have the time or resources to comment on individual essays.


How can I stay in touch with news about the Calibre Essay Prize?

If you have provided us with a current email address we will contact you with news about the Prize. Another way to stay up-to-date with news about the Prize and other ABR prizes and events is to sign up to our free monthly e-News. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram.


Where can I find the complete terms and conditions of entry?

These can be found here.


My question isn’t answered here, what should I do?

If you have a question about the Calibre Essay Prize that isn't answered here, or in the entry guidelines, please contact us via the comments facility below and we will respond when we can.

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