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National Book Awards Selection Process
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Judges consider only books written by American citizens and published in the United States between December 1 of the previous year and November 30 of the current year. Only publishers can nominate books for the National Book Award, although panel chairs can request books publishers have not nominated.

Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature

Each category has a panel of five judges who have written and published works in that category. Judges are nominated by past National Book Award Winners, Finalists, and Judges and then selected and recruited by the Foundation’s Executive Director in consultation with the Board of Directors. Jury members are chosen for their literary sensibilities and their expertise in a particular genre. Each judge receives an honorarium of $2,500; panel chairs receive $3,000.

The judging panels change every year. Juries develop their own criteria for awarding the National Book Award and discussions are held independent of the Foundation. The National Book Foundation Board and staff take no part in these deliberations, except to help determine a submission’s eligibility in conjunction with the submission guidelines.

Selection of Finalists
In mid-October, the Foundation announces a list of five Finalists, as selected by the appropriate judges, for each category. The announcement is made publicly at a different literary site each year. Each Finalist receives a prize of $1,000, a medal, and a citation from the panel jury.

Selection of the National Book Award Winner
The jury meets on the day of the National Book Awards Ceremony in November to select the Award Winner. The announcement is made at the Awards Ceremony later that evening and winners are kept confidential from the Foundation staff until then. National Book Award Winners receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture.


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