10 National Book and Magazine Awards You Should Know About

In November each year, the National Book Awards are presented by the National Book Foundation to writers in different categories; fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people’s literature. The set of awards used to have many other categories which have now been done off with to have only these left. In addition to that, the “Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters” as well as the “Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community” which are lifetime achievement awards are also presented.

Apart from the National Book Awards, there are many other literary awards that are presented annually. Here are the different National Book Awards and the magazine awards that you may need to know. Application fees may be requested for the awards.

National Book and Magazine Awards

1. National Book Award for Fiction

This is one of the main awards which is annually presented under the National Book Awards. Like others, it is presented to deserving works by citizens of the United States each year. Inasmuch as it is the National Book Foundation that presents the award each year, winners are selected by a panelist of five writers who have done great in their field and genre.

The award was first presented in 1950. Since then, it has evolved to cover things like first work, paperback, and hardcover, among other things including children’s fiction. Things considered by 1980 include mystery fiction, western fiction, and science fiction.

How to enter

For you to be considered for this award, you must have published a work of fiction as a U.S. citizen from December 1 to November 30. To submit your work, publishers will need to mail it from June 15 to August 1 to the panelists.

Announcement and prize

The announcement of the five finalists for the award is done in October and then in November, the winner is announced at the final ceremony where the winner is presented with a bronze sculpture and $10,000. Other finalists go home with a medal, $1,000 and a citation written by the panel.

2. National Book Award for Nonfiction

This award stretches back to 1935 when it was first awarded, although it has evolved through the years. Long before now, the works considered are only biography and other nonfiction books. It now has more categories.

It is similar in many ways to the National Book Award for Fiction in terms of the submission process and the awards. The only difference is that it is awarded for nonfiction.

How to enter

Works are submitted by publishers who mail them to National Book Foundation by June 15 while the panelists are to be mailed until August 1.

Announcement and prize

The five finalists for the nonfiction prize are announced in October of each year and then in November at the final ceremony, the winner is announced and presented with bronze sculpture and $10,000 while the other finalists get a medal, $1,000 and a citation written by the panel.

3. National Book Award for Poetry

This is a National Book Award that recognizes the best work that is done in the poetry category. The award category began in 1950 and like all others, it is given to books published in the U.S. by citizens. For any work to qualify to be considered in a particular year, it has to be published from December 1 to November 30.

How to enter

Until June 15, the foundation receives nominations from publishers while the panelists receive books until August 1.

Announcement and prize

The five finalists for the poetry prize are announced in October and then in November at the final ceremony, the winner is announced and presented with bronze sculpture and $10,000 while the other finalists get a medal, $1,000 and a citation written by the panel.

4. National Book Award for Translated Literature

This covers books that have been translated into English. When it first began, it ran from 1967 to 1983 and at the time, it was only open to works of fiction. However, it was introduced again in 2018, and this time around, it is open to both fiction and nonfiction.

The award is only open to works that have been published in the United States by publishers in the country from December 1 to November 30. The author, as well as the translator, do not need to be Americans.

How to enter

Works are accepted from March until May of each year and the book must not have been originally published in the year of the award.

Announcement and prize

In September, a long list is announced followed by a shortlist in October. The winner is announced at the final ceremony in November with the prizes split between the translator and the author.

5. National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

This award recognizes works that are done in the category of Young People’s Literature. It first started in 1996. Before then, it was recognized under some Children’s category from 1969 to 1983. Books to be considered have to be written by U.S citizens and they must have been published in the states any time between 1 December and 30 November.

How to enter

Nominations are submitted by publishers to the foundation until June 15. Mailing works are expected to get to the panelists by August 1.

Announcement and prize

In October, the five finalists in this category, the same as all others, are announced and then in November, the award is given at the final ceremony to the winner. The prizes are the same with all those above; a bronze sculpture for the winner and $10,000 and a medal, $1000, and a citation that is written by the panel for the finalists.

6. National Magazine Awards

Popularly known also as Ellie Awards,  this celebrates publications in print and digital media. Before now,  this award which recognizes and celebrates great execution of editorial objectives, enterprising, and innovative techniques as well as superior creativity.

When the awards first began,  it only took recognition of published materials but it has now evolved to also include any form of publication as far as it has journalistic qualities.

An award presented for excellence in the magazine industry, it has been awarded since the 1960s. It is sponsored in collaboration with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism by the American Society of Magazine Editors.

The award is presented in over 20 categories including essay and criticism, feature writing, reporting, and also General Excellence, Literature, Science and Politics. Some categories are social media, digital innovation, podcasting, and General Excellence, News, Sports, and Entertainment.

How to enter

The entry requirements for the Ellie Awards are available for each category on the website of the American Society of Magazine Editors.

Announcement and prize

The award is announced in March after the nominations are announced in February. There is a $1,000 prize money for Written & Visual awards and if a single winning entry has more than a name, the cash prize is split between the names. When there is a tie, all entries will have a share of the prize.

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7. National Book Critics Circle Awards 

This is another annual award presented to the best books in the poetry, fiction, nonfiction, criticism,  memoir/autobiography, and biography categories each year.

The award is for books published each publication year and it is awarded in March. While there are many other national literary awards, this stands out from the bunch as the only one that is selected by the critics themselves. More so,  a deserving critic is honored with the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. In addition, a distinguished author, publisher, or editor is awarded the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

How to enter

Titles can be submitted for the award following the submission guidelines made available on its platform. There is no application for the award. Books by authors from anywhere in the world are considered for this award, but they have to be published in the States.

Announcement and prize

Winners for the award are announced in March while finalists are announced in January. The specific dates follow the NBCC calendar.

8. National Outdoor Book Award

Launched in 1997, the National Outdoor Book Award (NOBA) is an annual book award that is sponsored by the NOBA foundation as well as the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

The award is designed to recognize the best as far as outdoor writing and publishing is concerned. The award is offered for the best books in 10 categories including Outdoor Classic, Adventure Guidebook, Nature, Children, Instructional, Nature Guidebook, Design, History, Literature, and Natural History.

How to enter

Books that have been published within the stipulated time for each entry period which can be found on NOBA’s website. The works can be submitted by either the author or publisher with no limit to the number of works that can be submitted.

Announcement and prize

Winning books would get promoted nationally and publishers will be authorized to use the National Outdoor Book Award medallion on the cover of the books. The date of announcements follows the schedule of NOBA as published on its site.

9. National Translation Award

As already guessed, this is an annual award that is given for excellent translation of works in a particular calendar year. The award which is given by the American Literary Translators Association has been on since 2008. The award is presented each year in the categories of poetry and prose translation to outstanding translators who have contributed to literature in English through their works of translation.

In 2015, the NTA was separated to give awards for poetry different and that of prose. Before then, they were joined.

How to enter

Submissions are accepted from publishers who are encouraged to submit works published in the previous year. Although accepted works are poetry and prose, hybrid works and drama are also accepted.

While the work can be published from anywhere around the world, the translation has to be by a citizen of the United States or a resident.

Announcement and prize

The NTA comes with a $2,500 prize money. The long list could be announced in July followed by a shortlist of five in September and then, the winners will be announced at the November conference.

10. American Book Awards

The American Book Awards is one that almost anyone can enter without needing any entry fee or form. It is offered to celebrate excellence in American literature. The award is offered in different categories to deserving winners. It celebrates both authors and publishers, and there is also a lifetime achievement award for contributions beyond recent works.

How to enter

This award does not require any form or fee. All you need to do is to submit two copies of the work which are to be mailed by December first to the Before Columbus Foundation:

American Book Awards
Before Columbus Foundation 

The Raymond House
655-13th Street, Suite 302
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 268-9775
[email protected]

Announcement and prizes

Winners may be announced in October at the American Book Awards Ceremony. There is no cash prize that is offered to winners of this award.

Chux Dezman
Chux Dezman
Chux has been writing and editing for several major websites and publications for over 16 years, when he is not crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s, you might catch him at home watching his favourite TV shows


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