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Enter the Zine Awards

The Broken Pencil Zine Awards:

Celebrating international zine and self-publishing excellence since 2017

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 2020!

For the fourth 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.

SUBMISSION PERIOD: April 15 – July 1, 2020

Prizes & Publicity

The Zine Awards will be awarded live at a ceremony held at Canzine Toronto 2020, details TBA!

Additionally, winners in each category will receive:

  • A BP Zine Awards Trophy.
  • $100 cash for each category winner.
  • Best Overall Zine gets an additional $400!
  • Stickers to put on their zine indicating they are a winner.
  • Winning creators will also be profiled in Broken Pencil Magazine and on, along with excerpts from their winning zines. 
  • Winners and nominees are sold on the BP store, included at special displays at zine fairs and stores, and presented at special displays at libraries.


We will be presenting awards for 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 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, 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 (anthology) 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
  • Literary micro -journal –experimental, emerging, local and DIY  literary journals (must have print issues) 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 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 protected] and ask us what we think!

Other eligibility criteria and notes:

  • This is a yearly zine awards, but we also have a long window during which folks can submit. To accommodate, all zines entered must have been published or created between April 2018 and 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 (contact us if you think you should be an exception). 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? Ask us by emailing [email protected]

How to Enter

Please read these instructions carefully. There is a lot to consider, especially if you’re submitting multiple zines, or if you’re already a BP subscriber. Send any and all questions to [email protected]


Step 1. Register your entry and pay the submission fee

Select Broken Pencil Zine Awards 2020 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.

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

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.

~For current BP subscribers submitting 2-3 zines, register them 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 protected]

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.

Electronic copy:

Simply attach the PDF file of your zine entry to your Submittable order!

Both hard copy & electronic copy:

You can also mail us some zines (two copies of each entry).

If you are mailing us a zine, Submittable will still require you to attach a PDF. If possible, please, please submit a PDF copy of each entry, even if you mail us physical copies as well. 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 15th 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.

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 as part of The Canzine Festival of Zines and Underground Culture. Date and location will be announced soon!

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, $100 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 $400!

Winners will also be 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.