Welcome to Subbub

This has been an absolute godsend for us. Last year I had a huge amount of admin processing entries, tracking judge voting etc. Subbub has given us a single place for people to submit their work and for the judges to score entries. I’ve got a clear view of the scores and can contact entrants easily. Highly recommended!

Rebecca Coleman – Chair, Burnham Book Festival

Welcome to Subbub, a new low-cost, high-functionality Submissions Manager. This grew out of a system developed for a local literary competition to streamline the process of receiving and collating anonymised entries. We also had to deal with the twin problems of barring entry to some age-limited categories and taking payments from outside the county while offering free entry to local residents.

As things turned out, it worked very well indeed. So we wondered if this might be a solution to anyone else’s problem? Not only that, but with the rise of ChatGPT-powered spambots, the idea of a system protected by reCAPTCHA technology that also required entrants to explicitly create a profile suddenly became a lot more attractive.

So it’s time to release Subbub into the big wide world. We’ll explain a few concepts over the rest of this page, but if you just want to skip straight to the demo, here’s where you need to go. Alternatively, if you just want to check out our prices and maybe even purchase your own market, here’s the place. You’ll need to create an account first, but that bit is 100% free and always will be.

There’s one other thing to add before we dive into the details: this system was developed by an award-winning writer who has published two short story collections and a slim volume of poetry as well as six novels. He has also spent a considerable amount of time judging writing competitions, so he is very familiar with both sides of the story.

Let’s start by explaining a few concepts.


Markets are the basic unit in Subbub. A typical example of a market might be a writing competition such as the Bridport Prize. Another example might be a writing magazine such as Granta. Alternatively, a literary agent could also be considered a market, or indeed a village photography competition. It’s basically anywhere that people send creative work to competitively, usually under conditions of anonymity.


For each market, a number of events can be defined. In the case of a market that’s a competition, an event would be a specific run, such as the 2023 Bridport Prize. In the case of a magazine, it would be a specific issue, such as Granta Issue 161. In some cases, such as a one-off charity anthology, a market might not have any distinct events at all.


Each event can be divided up into individual categories. For example, the 2023 Bridport Flash Fiction Competition would be a category within the Bridport 2023 event. Poetry submissions for Granta Issue 161 would also be regarded as a category. Once again, an event might not need to be divided up into categories. The 2023 BBC National Short Story Award would be an example of a single category event.

Within each category, a set of conditions can be defined so that when one of these is met, a specified action can be taken. This mechanism can be used to decide if a given user is to be blocked (for example on the basis of age, gender or geographical location) or if varying payment deals are to be offered (for example on the basis of geographical location or the number of entries being submitted).


Submissions may be managed on a rolling, continuous basis. This would, for example, be appropriate for an online magazine that publishes submissions continually, without any concept of a discrete series of issues.

For competitions and more structured journals, it may be more appropriate for submissions to be marked in a series of stages, such as Open -> Shortlist -> Longlist -> Winners. Within each stage, a different team of readers may be defined. Alternatively, the stage may be allocated to an external judge.


In order to make use of Subbub, you’ll need to register for a user account. It’s entirely free. There are three different roles a user may adopt in Subbub: manager, reader and writer. It is entirely possible that one individual user may be a manager for one or more markets, a reader for one or more others and a writer for several others as well.


Managers are the people who set up and control markets. They also form teams of readers, who are allocated to incoming submissions either manually or according to preset algorithms.


Readers are the people who read submissions on behalf of managers. At the discretion of the managers, readers are granted permission to read entries at one or more stages of the submission process. For example, one set of readers might be given the job of reading the open submissions and compiling a longlist, and another might be given the job of whittling that longlist down to a shortlist and so on. The structure of the reading process is defined on a market by market basis.


Writers are the people who submit entries to markets.


Initial access to Subbub is usually via the dashboard. This gives a different set of information for each of the different types of user. If you are not already logged in, you will be required to log in to your account first before accessing the dashboard.

  • For a writer, the dashboard gives a summary of the state of your submissions.
  • For a reader, it gives a summary of what progress you are making in working through your allocated submissions.
  • For a manager, it gives an overview of the state of play of all the markets you are permitted to manage.