National Book Awards Entry Rules & Guidelines


  • There are four panels of five Judges each in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature, each including a Chairperson chosen by the National Book Foundation.

  • The Foundation will announce Longlists of ten books in each category in mid-September.

  • The Foundation will announce the twenty Finalist books, five in each category, on October 12, 2016.

  • One Winner in each category will be announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on November 16, 2016.

  • Each Winner will receive a prize of $10,000 each. Each Finalist will receive a prize of $1,000 each. 


All books must be published by U.S. publishers located in the United States between December 1, 2015 and November 30, 2016. All authors must be U.S. citizens.

The following are eligible:

  • Full-length books of fiction and nonfiction

  • Collections of short stories and collections of essays by one author

  • Collected and selected poems by one author

  • Books by authors who are living at the commencement of the eligibility year (December 1, 2015)

  • Self-published books, provided that the author/publisher also publishes titles by other authors (Note: the Foundation may request the publisher's catalog to verify this.)

The following are NOT eligible:

  • English translations of books originally written in other languages

  • Anthologies containing work written by multiple authors

  • Reprints of books published in previous Award years. Exceptions may be made for otherwise eligible books published outside the United States in the previous Award year at the National Book Foundation's discretion.

  • Books published through self-publishing services

In the event of a dispute as to eligibility, the Foundation will decide whether a book is eligible, and its decision will be binding.


  • Publishers must complete the online entry form and submit payment.

  • Publishers must mail one copy of each submitted book to each of the five Judges in the appropriate category, as well as one copy to the Foundation’s office, to be received by July 1, 2016. All books must be sent via U.S. Postal Service First-Class Mail or Media Mail. Book packages must be clearly marked with "National Book Awards." Please send books as early as possible. Judges are not obligated to consider books that arrive after July 1.

  • Bound galleys and bound manuscripts are acceptable if a book has not yet been published. Finished books may be sent to replace galleys and manuscripts when available.

  • For ebooks, please provide a printed and bound, 8 ½ x 11-inch copy of the book, including publication date information.

  • There is a $135 entry fee for each title submitted. Accepted forms of payment include PayPal and credit card. Please be prepared with payment information before you begin the online submission process.

  • Publishers whose submitted books are deemed ineligible by the Foundation will still be subject to the stated entry fee of $135 per title.

  • The Chairpersons of each judging panel may "call in" titles through the Foundation office that have not been submitted by publishers. The Foundation then asks publishers to submit these titles for consideration, assuming they meet eligibility requirements. Publishers may submit at their own discretion. The $135 fee applies to all call-in titles.

  • Each publisher must designate one person to coordinate all National Book Award-related matters with the Foundation throughout the Awards process.

  • Each author must be made aware of and consent to the entry of his/her book for the National Book Awards.


All publishers submitting books for the National Book Awards must agree to:

  • Contribute $3,000 toward a promotional campaign if a submitted book becomes a Finalist ($750 for presses with income of under $10 million).

  • Inform authors of submitted books that, if selected as Finalists, they must be present at the National Book Awards Ceremony and at related events in New York City.

  • Inform authors that the Finalists Reading will be held at The New School on Tuesday, November 15, 2016.

  • Inform authors that the National Book Awards Ceremony will be held at Cipriani Wall Street on Wednesday, November 16, 2016.

  • Cover all travel and accommodation costs for Finalists and provide them with a seat at the Awards Ceremony.

  • Purchase from the National Book Foundation, when appropriate, medallions to be affixed to the covers of Finalist and Winning books. The Foundation also will license the medallion image artwork for reproduction on the covers of Finalist and Winning books.

  • Inform authors that, if selected as Finalists, they must agree to participate in the Foundation's website-related publicity.

Additional Note: The Miami Book Fair International is an official partner of the National Book Foundation. The Fair will invite all Longlisted authors to participate in the Fair from Friday, November 18 to Sunday, November 20, 2016, with all travel and accommodations underwritten by Miami Book Fair International.


Email questions about your submissions to Courtney Gillette at, or call the Foundation offices at 212-685-0261. Technical questions should be emailed to Meredith Andrews at