Selected Awards for First Novels

In honor of NaNoWriMo and all those churning out words in a race to 50,000, here are some awards that go to those lucky enough to produce an award-winning novel on the first shot out of the gate (that other people get to read anyway, I would bet that most of these are REALLY 3rd or 4th novels, but the first PUBLISHED. Which is not to take away from the awesomeness at all. Statisticians out there- I wonder what % of the population is published? Not many….).

Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Award (originally the John Sargent Sr. Award)- Awarded by the Center for Fiction

“The Center for Fiction, founded in 1820 as the Mercantile Library, is the only organization in the United States devoted solely to the vital art of fiction. The mission of The Center for Fiction is to encourage people to read and value fiction and to support and celebrate its creation and enjoyment. With all our resources, including our exceptional book collection, our beautiful reading room, our expanding website, and our ever-growing array of creative programs, we seek to serve the reading public, to build a larger audience for fiction, and to create a place where readers and writers can share their passion for literature.”

Publishers submit novels for consideration, and a group of librarians, readers, authors, and Center members narrows that to a recommended list, from which winners are chosen by a group of selected authors. Fairly cool process. There is also a fee waiver for smaller publishing houses, which I think is a good field-leveler. 🙂 Winners & Finalists are REQUIRED to place the appropriate gold medallion on future editions. E-books & the self-published are not eligible.

The Edgar Awards have a category for first novel. (click on the link for the post about them)

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award– This one is a little different in that MANUSCRIPTS  are submitted, read and voted on by panels of folks from Amazon (including their Reviewers), eventually by representatives from Penguin Publishing and narrowed down to 3 in each category. The 3 finalists post 5,000 word excerpts, which are voted on by the public. Winners recieve a $15,000 advance and get published with all of Amazon’s marketing power behind them… coolness. There are categories for General Fiction, YA fiction, but may be any genre or combination of genres within those overall categories (ie mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, etc). (Why is it that I like this concept so much more than the various contests for recording contracts etc…?)

The Guardian First Book Award– The Guardian, a UK newspaper, offers the first book award. Other than a list of submissions & reviews of the nominees, the only information I saw was that PUBLISHERS submit the novels for review. Wikipedia came to the rescue HERE and apparently the short-listers are chosen by a panel of critics and the Literary Editor of the paper. THEN book-clubs from the public are set up, and they narrow it down to 5, and a “panel of celebrity judges” choose the winner.

James Jones Fellowship Contest This is another prize for a WIP. Authors send the first 50 pages of their manuscript and a summary. Winners receive $10,000, runners up $750. Judging is done by a panel on campus (Wilkes University)

The Author’s Club First Novel Award is awarded by the Author’s Club. Click HERE for more info about them.

Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction is a part of the LA Times Book awards. From their website:

Nominations for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes do not begin with authors or publishers proposing their own work. Responsibility for nominating books for consideration and for naming both the finalists and the ultimate winners in the ten individual-title categories rests solely with nine panels of three judges each. (The fiction panel handles both the fiction and the first fiction categories.) Not all of these judges are, in any given year, from Los Angeles, or even from California. Most, but not all, are published writers. None is ever a current Times employee. Judges are appointed, typically, for a term of two years. Terms are usually staggered so that on each panel either one or two judges are replaced every year.
Five 2010 finalists in each of the ten single-title categories will be announced in late February 2011. From each group of finalists, a category winner will be announced when the 2010 Book Prizes, including the Robert Kirsch Award and Innovator’s Award, are presented on April 29, 2011. The Kirsch and Innovator’s Awards have no finalists. The winners of these awards are selected by anonymous internal panels, and will be announced with the category finalists in February 2011.

Costa/Whitbread Book Awards– This UK award group has 5 categories, one of which is for a first novel. Works are submitted by the PUBLISHER, indiviuals cannot submit, nor can self-published or e-book only works be submitted. Judging is done by a panel of experts and readers.

Barry Award is sponsored by Deadly Pleasures Magazine, and among its categories there is a First Novel award. This group of awards is for mystery/crime novels, which are reviewed by the editorial staff of the magazine. Individuals as well as publishers may submit, but there is no guarantee that all submissions will be reviewed. Word of mouth is a good thing in this one.

Books in Canada First Novel Award

The Books in Canada First Novel Award has a tumultuous history. It was founded by the literary magazine Books in Canada but when money ran short the award was managed by Smithbooks and became the “Smithbooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award”. When Smithbooks was acquired by Chapters Books Inc., it became the “Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award”. In 1999 the magazine decided to end its affiliation with Chapters. It is now officially the “ in Canada First Novel Award”.

The Mcavity Awards– ” named for the “mystery cat” of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats). Each year the members of Mystery Readers International nominate and vote for their favorite mysteries in four categories.”

ITW Thriller Award for First Novel– The International Thriller Writer’s association does this one. No information on how to submit/selection process…more later on that one.

The Anthony Award for First Novels– This is another mystery category with multiple prizes, “The nominations are taken from votes cast by members of Bouchercon, the current year (2011) and the previous year (2010). The awards are named after Anthony Boucher, a book reviewer and early champion of the mystery genre.” Awards are voted on at the annual Bouchercon & presented there.

The Shamus Award is for a first novel about an investigator of some sort. ”

In general, the PWA defines a “private eye” as any mystery protagonist who is a professional investigator, but not a police officer or government agent. The full definition is, and I quote, “a person paid for investigative work but not employed by a unit of government. Thus books and stories about private investigators (licensed and unlicensed), lawyers and reporters who do their own legwork, and other hired agents are eligible; works centering on law enforcement officers or amateur sleuths are not.”

The Shamus Award is apparently often confused with the The St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writer Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. Seems some publishers don’t make the distinction, and that a novel can win the contest, and a few years later, when it’s finally published, be eligible for the Best First Novel Award. But it’s pretty simple, actually. As Bob Randisi explains, “There is nothing for publishers to distinguish. The PWA/SMP contest winner is for an unpublished novel, and is ONLY a PWA/SMP prize winner. It’s not a book, eligible for book awards, until it is published.” The St Martins Press award seems to be for a manuscript….

The Agatha’s have a first novel category.

The Medicine Pipe Bearer’s Award is awarded by the Western Writers of America for first novels. Nominees are reviewed by a panel of judges who are members of WWA. This is a division of the Spur Awards.

The Strand First Novel Award– is for a first novel in the mystery category and is awarded and judged by Strand Magazine’s critics.

The PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Novel- ok. all I can find are lists of winners. I have no idea where this award comes from….but it seems to be an award from Penguin Publishing for their own books….

The VCU/Cabell award– This is linked to the VCU MFA program, but I don’t THINK entrants have to be enrolled.

More than 100 novels were submitted for this year’s prize. A group of more than 100 readers reduced the list to 10 semifinalists and ultimately three finalists. The finalists were then considered by a panel of judges consisting of Victor Lodato, winner of the 2010 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for “Mathilda Savitch;” Timothy Hulsey, dean of the VCU Honors College; and Marcela Valdes, books editor of The Washington Examiner and a contributing editor for Publishers Weekly.

BCALA Awards– these are given by the Black Caucus of the ALA for African-American authors and have a first novel category. Publishers do the nominating, and judging is done by the committee.

The Betty Trask Prize and Awards – totalling £25,000 are awarded to authors under the age of 35 for a first novel, published or unpublished  (link does not work…the website is moving, but I believe this award is for British Authors only)

The Branford Boase Award – awarded to the most promising first novel by a first time writer of a book for young people


The Bram Stoker Awards have a First novel Category.

Obviously there are a LOT of these. Here’s the Wikipedia list too.

Are you out there? Hello? Anyone? (Thanks for reading! )

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