The Broken Pencil Zine Awards:

Celebrating international zine and self-publishing excellence since 2017


Broken Pencil Magazine‘s annual Zine Awards enters its fourth year for 2020. We are excited to announce that we are currently accepting submissions on Submittable through July 1.

Since its inception in 2017, the goal of the Zine Awards has been to honour outstanding work coming out of the ever-expanding zine universe, and to acknowledge the talent and hard work of emerging, established and experimental self-publishers for their contributions to zine culture.

Awards & Categories

The award for each category will be announced and given out live at a ceremony in Toronto as part of the Canzine Festival of Zines 2020 this Fall. 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! Awards will be granted for the following categories:


Political zine


Compilation zine


Zines dealing
with issues of oppression, activism, organizing, political identity, intersectionality, feminism, anti-racism, queer struggles, political histories and resistance

Typically lo-fi, text-focused zine or zines by one primary voice/creator. Think diary zines, personal reflections & essays, thought bubbles,  life updates, mental health journaling, personal DIY, train of though etc. Often staple-bound, text-heavy, serial zines. (No comics here, sorry!)

A zine containing or collecting multiple pieces/texts by more than two authors, also known as an anthology zine or a theme zine. It’s typically several pieces around a specific topic e.g. “Consent(sus): 13 writers on queer men & consent” or “Reviews of shit we hate #10.”

Illustration compilations, sketchbook zines, photozines, silkscreen, risograph, woodcut zines that are not comics, design-oriented stuff, illustrations,  3D and conceptual, low-fi artbooks etc.

Comic zine


Literary micro-journal


Indie/underground comic zines, DIY or one off comic magazines or projects, mini-comics, illustrated storytelling, experimental comix, cartooning, strips, comic jams,  etc

Literary or creative writing, poems, stories, flash fiction,  novellas, plays, novel serializations, chapbooks, literary experiments, post-literature, text as art, concrete poetry etc

We made this one up, kinda. Literary journals (printed on a press) that publish fewer than 750 copies per issue

Genre film or subculture fanzines, pop culture zines, anime tributes, fanfiction, concert reviews, punk music, record reviews, tour diaries, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, anything music or entertainment focused!


Winners in each category will receive:

  • A BP Zine Awards trophy
  • $100 for each category winner
  • Best Overall Zine gets an additional $400
  • Zine awards stickers to put on their zine indicating they are a winner (category finalists get stickers too!)
  • Winning creators will also be profiled in Broken Pencil Magazine and on, along with excerpts from their winning zines. 
  • Winning zines and nominees are sold on the Broken Pencil Zine Store, which we exhibit, bundle and sell on their behalf at zine fairs, stores and libraries.

How to Enter the Zine Awards

Please read these instructions carefully and send any and all questions to [email protected] You may also want to scope out our Frequently Asked Questions page.


All entries are processed through our Submittable page (click here). You can submit up to three zines made between April 2019 and June 2020 (for other eligibility questions, scroll down). You will submit all three zines on one form regardless of your subscription status — note that this is different than other years.


Step 1. Select the Submittable form for you and choose payment option

If you are a current Broken Pencil subscriber or Zine League member:

    • Please use the Submittable form marked “For Current BP Subscribers Only”
    • Current subscribers to Broken Pencil can submit up to three zines for a flat fee of $14 USD. There will only be one payment option for you, and you can submit one, two, or three zines in this form.
    • Submit the info and files for all of your zines on one form

If you are not currently a Broken Pencil subscriber:

    •  Please use the Submittable form marked “For New and Renewing BP Subscribers.”
    • New subscribers will pay $25 for their first entry, which includes a one-year subscription to Broken Pencil  (yay!).
    • Select only one payment option to reflect the number of zines you’re submitting. Submitting a second zine is $10 more (total $35 for two zines), and submitting a third is an additional $7 more (total $42 for three zines).

2. Fill in the rest of the form

Now, fill in your contact information and the details of your submissions. Some fields are required and some are not, including the fields for details for entrants submitting multiple zines.

We also ask for a cover image and artist image — it’s really helpful to have digital stuff handy in one place from the promo period all the way through the print feature in the mag.

If the price of entry is a barrier for you, please contact [email protected] about accessing a sliding scale entry fee.

Step 3. Pay up and send the zines

Lest we forget, the most important part— the zines! The form will prompt you to upload the PDF version(s) of your work and fill out the remaining contact information and details.Whee! Continue to finish the payment, which will generate a receipt. You’ll need this if you’re mailing a physical copy as well.

There are two format options for zine submissions:

  1. Electronic copy only

Simply attach the PDF file of your zine entry to your Submittable form. We ask that you submit a PDF copy even if your preference is for the print zines.

We know, we know. For many, zines are a paper medium. Not all of us even have PDFs of zines, WTF Broken Pencil really? etc. etc.

The reason we do this is to have the image files handy in one place throughout the Zine Awards admin. We use these for promotion, announcements, the zine awards ceremony and presentation and the magazine feature. Really, we come back to these throughout, especially for shortlist nominees.

Note that judges will receive the physical printed zine for any submissions that has one

2. Both hard copy & electronic copy

You can also mail us physical copies of your zines. Please try to send two copies of each entry, one for BP and one for the guest judge. Three is even better if you can spare it.

Unfortunately we can’t arrange to send back zines after the Zine Awards, sorry!

If you are mailing a zine, Submittable will still require a file upload. If possible, please, please submit a PDF copy of each entry, even if you mail us physical copies as well. See above. If you really don’t have a digital copy, attach a PDF telling us about it and 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! Or write down the number in a pinch.
3. Send a copy of the receipt along with two (2) copies of each zine submission(s) 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

Note that we are only access our US mail every 4-6 weeks, but we make sure to retrieve all zine awards entries in time.

Unless requested otherwise, all entries will also be considered for review and possibly excerpted in the magazine as part of Broken Pencil’s ongoing reviews of zines from around the world. Let us know if you’d rather we don’t!

The deadline of July 1st means you must have registered your zine and paid through Submittable by that date. Please mail your zine as soon as possible after registration, as we need to receive it within two weeks of the deadline to give time to the judging process.

Step 4. Wait while judging magic occurs!

Our team of judges bring experience and expertise from all corners of the zine creator spectrum. With support from Broken Pencil’s editorial team, all zines will be read by at least three people.

We’ll work collaboratively to select winners in each of the categories. Zines will be judged against other zines in their category based on their content, form, creativity, talent, innovation, gutsiness, and general merit.

The judging panel may also decide to award one Overall Zine of the Year Award to grant one of the category winners.

Step 5. Did you make the short list? Golly gee! Congratulations.

There will be 5-8 nominees/finalists in each category. Finalists will be notified mid-August if they have been selected, and will also be announced on the Broken Pencil website. Expect to hear from us via email about coming to the ceremony, distro-ing your work through our zine store, and spreading the good news.

Step 6. The Zine Awards Ceremony

The Zine Awards are typically awarded live and in person as part of Canzine Festival of Zines and Underground Culture. The 2020 date and location are on hold due to uncertainty about COVID-19, though it’s usually it is in September in Toronto.

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, help sell your wares and generally help you out.

Winners and finalists at the BP Zine Awards Ceremony in 2019. Image by Mikiki

Step 7. Grand Prize?!!

Each of the winners will receive a trophy, $100 cash, stickers to put on their zine indicating 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 $400.

Winners will also be interviewed and profiled in Broken Pencil Magazine and on, 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.

Any questions or concerns can be directed to [email protected]

Help promote the zine awards!

Share this page! Posters and digital assets in a range of sizes will soon be available as well.

If you’d like a stack of postcards for your zine library, zine fair, small press shop or other establishments, email [email protected] and we’ll coordinate to get you some.