The PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship is offered annually to an author of children’s or young-adult fiction. It has been developed to help writers whose work is of high literary caliber and is designed to assist a writer at a crucial moment in his or her career to complete a book-length work-in-progress. The author of the winning manuscript, selected blindly by judges unaware of nominees’ names, will receive an award of $5,000.

The Fellowship is made possible by a substantial contribution from PEN Member Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, the prolific author of more than 140 books, including Now I’ll Tell You Everything, the 28th and final book in the acclaimed “Alice” series, as well as Faith, Hope, and Ivy June and Shiloh, the first novel in a trilogy, which won the 1992 Newbery Medal. On establishing the Fellowship Mrs. Naylor said: “We truly work ‘blind,’ with no assurance whatsoever that anyone will be interested in our final product. It takes enormous stamina and resolve and optimism to live with our characters for a year or more—and it’s my hope that the Working Writer’s Fellowship, modest as it is, will let the author know that an expert panel of PEN judges has faith in the writer, admires his work, and trusts that he will be able to bring to paper what he sees in his head.”

Click to view past winners of the PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship »



Submissions for the 2019 awards cycle will be accepted from June 1, 2018 through October 1, 2018. 


  • A candidate is a writer of children’s or young adult fiction in financial need.
  • Candidates must have published one or more novels for children or young adults that have been warmly received by literary critics, but have not generated sufficient income to support the author.
  • The writer’s previously published book(s) must be published by a U.S. publisher (not self-published).
  • The submitted work must be fiction and a work-in-progress.
  • Judges will be looking for candidates whose work has not yet attracted a broad readership.

NOT eligible:

  • Graphic novels
  • Picture books


submission guidelines

Please note that the application process in now entirely online; hard copy applications will not be accepted.

  • Writers may nominate themselves or a fellow writer.
  • The online submission form requires the following:
    • Cover letter: A 1-2 page letter describing in some detail how they meet the criteria for the fellowship, including a list of their published novel(s) for children and/or young adults.
    • Three professional reviews: Copies of or links to at least three reviews of their novel(s) from professional publications.
    • Letter of recommendation: A 1-2 pager letter of support from an editor or fellow writer.
    • Project outline: A brief (2-4 page) outline of the novel in progress that is being submitted. The writer’s name should not appear anywhere on the outline to ensure anonymity, as the outline and manuscript (and only the outline and manuscript) will be given to the judges for consideration.
    • Manuscript sample: 50–75 pages of the text. Graphic novels and picture books are not eligible. The writer’s name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript, in order to ensure anonymity for the judging process, as the outline and manuscript (and only the outline and manuscript) will be given to the judges for consideration.
    • Financial statement: A brief description of the candidate’s recent earnings and a statement about why monetary support will make a particular difference in the applicant’s writing life at this time. If the candidate is married or living with a domestic partner, please include a brief description of total family income and expense. Please note that these details will be viewed only by PEN America’s Awards Manager. This statement will not be shared with the judges and will be kept confidential.
  • Click here to apply for the 2019 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship.