Please carefully review all of the following information regarding eligibility and the submission process before completing the entry form. 


Who is eligible

  • Aspen Words will only accept submissions from publishers. Authors may not submit their own work for this award.
  • 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, 2017 and December 31, 2017. 2017 must be the book’s first publication year.
  • 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.
  • Self-published books are not eligible.
  • Translated books in English are eligible, as long as they are published in the United States in 2017.
  • 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 $30 entry fee. 

Submission process

The submission process will open to publishers on February 1, 2017. If you are a publisher and would like to receive further information about the Aspen Words Literary Prize, please sign up here. For general inquiries, please email literary.prize@aspeninstitute.org or call 970-925-3122 ext 1#.

  1. Publishers should complete the Online Entry Form (available February 1, 2017) by 5pm MST on August 1, 2017. There is a $30 entry fee for each title submitted.*
  • The $30 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. Payment must come from the publisher. If paying by check, enter “CHECK” in the coupon code field on the submission form at checkout.
  • The $30 fee is non-refundable and should be paid by the publisher only.

*Entry fees will be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $4 million. In order to have your dues waived, please have a company official write a letter confirming the net sales and send this letter as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to literary.prize@aspeninstitute.org. Once received, you will be provided with a coupon code to use at checkout in order to have your submission fees waived.

  1. Once you have completed the Online Submission Form, mail 5 copies of the book to the selection committee addresses listed on the confirmation email. Books must arrive by September 1, 2017, or they will not be considered.  Please send books as early as possible. Bound galleys and bound manuscripts are acceptable if a book has not yet been published.

    * To account for books that might have been missed during the publisher submission process, the jury may “call in” additional titles for consideration no later than January 1, 2018. Aspen Words then asks publishers to submit these titles for consideration. The $30 fee applies to all call-in titles.


  • Authors must be made aware of and consent to the entry of his/her book for the Aspen Words Literary Prize
  • Publishers must provide a high res image of the book jacket, a book press release, author biography, and high res author photo for all long-listed books.
  • Finalists must be present at the Aspen Words Literary Prize Finalists Celebration in New York City on April 10, 2018. Publishers must cover all travel and accommodations for Finalists to attend this event.* 
  • Aspen Words will cover the travel and accommodations for the awardee to attend the Summer Benefit Dinner in June 2018 in Aspen, where they will be the featured speaker and guest of honor.
  • Finalists and winner must agree to participate in Aspen Words/Aspen Institute publicity, including interviews, podcasts and other promotional activities. The Finalist event and Benefit dinner will be photographed and audio/video recorded.
  • Publishers must purchase from Aspen Words medallions to be affixed to the covers of Finalist and Winning books. Aspen Words will also license the medallion image artwork for reproduction on the covers of Finalist and Winner books.

    *This requirement is not intended to exclude eligible books from consideration. Small presses for which this requirement would pose financial hardship should please notify literary.prize@aspeninstitute.org.‎

Selection process

A selection committee will read all submissions during the fall of 2017 in order to select a longlist of 12-20 titles. The jury will read all long-listed books to determine the finalists and winner.

The selection committee members are chosen based on their experience as readers in M.F.A programs, in the publishing industry, for the Aspen Summer Words workshop applications, or in other capacities that require extensive, thoughtful reading and evaluation of literature.

The jury is comprised of one Aspen Institute stakeholder, a literary scholar or social scientist, an Aspen Words stakeholder, and two notable authors who have written fiction that aligns with the goals of this prize. They are selected by the Aspen Words Staff in consultation with the Aspen Words Creative Council and the Aspen Institute.

To account for books that might have been missed during the publisher submission process, the jury may “call in” additional titles for consideration no later than January 1, 2018.