Submit to the Aspen Words Literary Prize 2021

Submissions for the third annual Aspen Words Literary Prize are open for book-length works of fiction published in the 2020 calendar year. The $35,000 literary prize is for an “influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.” For more details, please read below: 


· Aspen Words will only accept submissions from publishers. Authors may not submit their own work for this award.

· We will accept a maximum of 6 submissions per small publisher or imprint. 

· The candidate’s book must be a work of fiction (either a novel or collection of short stories) published by a U.S. trade publisher (commercial, academic, or small press) between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

· The work of fiction must illuminate vital contemporary issues, including but not limited to gender issues, environmental challenges, violence, inequality, justice, and issues of religion or race. Though books do not have to be set in contemporary times, they should provide historical context that helps to increase understanding of current issues. Click here for further details and examples of socially inspired fiction that is eligible for this prize. Browse the longlist and shortlists from previous years for examples of eligible works.

· Self-published books are not eligible.

· Translated books in English are eligible, as long as they are published in the United States in 2020. 

· Anthologies containing work written by multiple authors are not eligible.

· Children’s literature (picture books, middle grade and young adult) is not eligible.

· There are no restrictions on the nationality or residency of the author.

· The author must be living at the time the book is submitted.

· No work will be considered ineligible because its author has previously won this prize or any other prize.

· The author must not be employed by the Aspen Institute, a Board member of the Aspen Institute, or a family member (spouse or child) of an employee or Board member of the Aspen Institute.

 NOTE: Publishers whose submitted books are deemed ineligible by Aspen Words and the Selection Committee will not be issued refunds for the $60 entry fee. 


The submission process is open to publishers June 10 – August 3, 2020.

1. Publishers should complete the Online Submission Form (which includes a Confirmation of Eligibility) by August 3, 2020. There is a $60 entry fee for each title submitted.

· The $60 entry fee can be paid with credit card through the online form or by sending a check (made out to “Aspen Words”) to 110 E. Hallam Street, Suite 116, Aspen, CO 81611. If paying by check, select “CHECK” on the submission form and you will not be asked to provide credit card info.

· The $60 fee is non-refundable.

*The submission fee for one entry will be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $4 million. Additional entries will cost $60 each. In order to waive dues for the first entry, please send an official letter confirming the publishing house’s net sales and send it as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to Once approved, you will receive an email with a coupon code to use at checkout in order to have your submission fees waived.

2. Because of the changing situation of COVID-19, publishers must send digital copies of each submitted title. Please email a PDF version of the book to to be considered for the prize. If a digital version of the book is not yet available at the time you complete the entry form, you may email the PDF as soon as it becomes available, but before the August 3, 2020 deadline. Please submit your entries and send PDFs as early as possibleOur staff may follow up at a later date for hard copies.

3. Longlisted publishers will be notified in mid-November, 2020. 

Click here for the entry form. However, before filling in the entry form, ensure you visit the Aspen Words Literary Prize website for more information.

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