Literary Awards FAQ


Q: What awards is PEN America offering this year?
A: Please click here for a full listing of our awards, including those offered this year and those that rotate on a biennial schedule.

Q: Is it possible to submit more than one book or author for one award?
A: Yes, publishers may submit multiple books from their lists to each award. However, each book must be submitted separately. For the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize, editors from eligible publications may submit up to four eligible stories from eligible authors in a given award year.

Q: Can I submit one book to multiple awards?
A: One cannot submit the same book for multiple PEN America awards with the exception of the PEN Open Book Award, which honors work by writers of color. The PEN/Faulkner is not considered a PEN America award.

Q: When and where do I submit?
A: Submissions for the 2021 Awards will open on June 15, 2020. For each of our awards, the application materials, eligibility requirements, and submission timeline vary. Please check the awards page on our website for more detailed instructions.

Q: My book won’t be published until after the June 15 deadline. Can I send a galley or advance copy instead?
A: Yes, we also accept galleys and advance copies.

Q: Does the author need to be a U.S. resident or citizen?
A: Residency and citizenship requirements vary depending on each award. You can consult the “Who is Eligible” section of each awards page for specific details about that award.

Q: My book is self-published OR published by a non-trade publisher. Am I still eligible for submission?
A: No, PEN America does not accept books that are self-published or published by a non-trade publisher. Trade publisher includes all publishers that are not self-published.

Q: Does “trade publisher” include academic presses?
A:  Yes, “trade publisher” includes academic presses.

Q: Does PEN America offer grants or awards to unpublished writers?
A: PEN America supports emerging writers and works-in-progress in a number of ways. The PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction honors an exceptional unpublished manuscript. The PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants support translators’ process of translating works that have not previously appeared in English or have appeared only in an outdated or otherwise flawed translation. Similarly, the PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Oral History recognizes an unpublished, ongoing oral history project. To learn more about our grants, visit our Grants & Fellowships page.

Q: As stated on the website, publishers whose annual net sales are under $2 million do not have to pay the submission fee. What documentation is needed to prove qualification?
A: To get a fee waiver code, a publisher must send an official letter on company letterhead stating that the press makes less than $2 million a year. Fee waiver requests should be sent to [email protected], and we will email you the fee waiver code. 

Q: What is the timeline for the PEN America Literary Awards announcements?
A: Submissions for our Book Awards close August 15, 2020 (with the exception of the PEN/Robert J. Dau Prize, which closes November 15, 2020). Longlists will be published early in winter, and Finalists will be announced in mid-January of 2021. Winners for the Book Awards will be announced live at the Literary Awards Ceremony. The 2020 ceremony was held at the Town Hall on March 2, 2020.

Q: I’m having trouble processing my submission fee payment. What should I do?
A: Here are some suggestions that might help:

  • If it’s an AmEx Card, the CVV is the four digits located on the front of the card (not the code on the back of the card).
  • If it’s a company credit card, the company’s name should be entered in Address Field #1, and the street address in Address Field #2.
  • If the card is not a US-based card, please trying using a US-based credit card.
  • If you’re still having trouble, please contact [email protected]

Q: Are current PEN America staff, interns, donors, and board members eligible for literary awards? What about past staff, interns, donors, and board members? 
A: Writers who are also current PEN America staff or interns, trustees, or chairs of Member committees are not eligible for any of the Awards and/or Grants offered by the Literary Awards Program. Additionally, all current members of the Literary Awards Committee are ineligible. We understand the literary community to be close and interconnected, and being involved with PEN America in these ways in the past does not result in disqualification. We ask that the writer have not been connected with PEN America in these ways during the calendar years of the applicable awards cycle. For example, a person involved with PEN America in one of the categories described in 2020 will not be eligible for an Award or Grant in 2020 or 2021.

Q: I’m a PEN Member, am I eligible to be considered for one of your Grants or Awards?
A: Yes, PEN Members are eligible for our Awards and Grants, but will not be given preferential consideration.