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 biannual schedule.

Q: Is it possible to submit more than one book or author for one award?
A: Yes. Each book must be submitted separately. For the 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. If you’re choosing to do so, you may submit the books in one package addressed to PEN America Awards Department. Our address is 588 Broadway #303, New York, NY 10012. The Declaration of Eligibility Forms will let us know which books are for which awards.

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 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 2020 Awards will open on June 1st, 2019. 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 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.

At a glance:

The author must be a U.S. resident (but not necessarily a U.S. citizen) to qualify for…

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize
PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing

The author must be a U.S. citizen (but not necessarily a U.S. resident) to qualify for…

PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction

The author must be a U.S. resident and/or a U.S. citizen to qualify for…

PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry
PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing

The author need not be a U.S. resident or a U.S. citizen to qualify for…

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction
PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award
PEN Translation Prize
PEN Open Book Award
PEN Award for Poetry in Translation
PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography
PEN/Nora Magid Award
PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers


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: Trade publisher includes all publishers that are not self-published.

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, founded by Barbara Kingsolver, honors an exceptional unpublished manuscript. The cash prize is accompanied by publication by Algonquin Books and an additional advance. 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 Awards announcements?
A: Submissions for all our awards will close in the Fall of 2019. Longlists will be published in December 2019. Finalists will be announced in mid-January of 2020. Winners will be announced live in March. Authors who are longlisted, finalists, winners, and the publishers and editors of winners will receive complimentary tickets to the 2020 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony.

The 2019 awards ceremony was held at the NYU Skirball Center on February 26, 2019. 
View the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony.

View press coverage of the PEN Literary Awards:
New York Times: Toni Morrison Wins Pen/Bellow Prize
New York Times: 2016 Finalist Announcement

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]