Deadlines & Guidelines Copy

Submissions for the 2021 National Book Awards are now closed.

Dates for 2021 NBAs

March 17: National Book Awards entry form opens

May 12: Deadline for entry form submission

May 28: Digital copies of submitted titles published from December 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 are due

June 30: Digital copies of submitted titles published from July 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021 are due

September 15 – 17: Longlists Announced

October 5: Finalists Announced

November 17: 72nd National Book Awards Ceremony (Winners announced)


All books must be published by U.S. publishers located in the United States between
December 1, 2020 and November 30, 2021.

For the Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature Awards, authors must be U.S. citizens, or if authors are non-U.S. citizens or have particularly complex immigration issues, there is a petition process. In the case of authors for whom this would apply, publishers must contact us directly and answer the following questions:

  • Has the author lived in the United States for 10 or more years as of November 30 of the Awards year?
  • Does the author consider themselves: an U.S. immigrant who is currently and actively engaged in pursuing citizenship, OR legally unable to pursue traditional pathways to citizenship at this time?

Please note that the Foundation will keep all information confidential.

For the Translated Literature Award, neither author nor translator are required to be U.S. citizens.

The following are eligible:

  • Books by authors who are living at the commencement of the eligibility year (December 1, 2020)
  • 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
  • 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.)
  • For the Translated Literature Award only: English translations of published works of fiction or nonfiction. Books by authors and translators who are living at the commencement of the eligibility year (December 1, 2020). The original text need not to have been published in the year of the award submission, only the translated work

The following are NOT eligible:

  • 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, including Kindle Direct Publishing

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 by May 12.
  • Because of the changing situation of COVID-19, publishers must send digital copies of their submitted titles. After publishers have completed the entry form, the Awards team will reach out to each publisher with a unique file request link for the titles the publisher submitted, and further directions. Please send the digital copies of the books as early as possible.
  • If the book is published between December 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, please send digital copies of the books by May 28.
  • If the book is published between July 1, 2021 and November 30, 2021, please send digital copies of the books by June 30. Judges are not obligated to consider books that arrive after June 30.
  • The National Book Foundation may request physical copies to be mailed in the future.
  • 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. If you would prefer to pay for multiple titles by ACH payment, please e-mail
  • Publishers whose submitted books are deemed ineligible by the Foundation will still be subject to the stated entry fee of $135 per title.
  • The chair 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. This person will be contacted in the case that a title becomes part of the Longlist. If this person is new to the process, please make sure they are familiar with these guidelines and deadlines.
  • Each author must be made aware of and consent to the entry of their book for the National Book Awards.


  • There are five panels of five Judges each in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature, each including a panel chair, 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-five Finalist books, five in each category, on October 5, 2021.
  • One Winner in each category will be announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony on November 17, 2021.
  • Each Winner will receive a prize of $10,000. Each Finalist will receive a prize of $1,000. In the case of the Translated Literature Award, prizes are split equally between author and translator.


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

    • Contribute toward a promotional campaign if a submitted book becomes a Finalist. For presses with income of $10 million or above, a contribution of $3,000; under $10 million, a contribution of $750; and for presses with income under $1 million, the fee is waived.
    • The National Book Foundation is closely monitoring best health and safety practices associated with COVID-19 and future programming, including the National Book Awards Ceremony and related events.
    • Inform authors that, if selected as Finalists, they must agree to participate in the Foundation’s exclusively digital National Book Awards events, the details of which will be conveyed to them by the Foundation through their publisher.

Email questions about your submissions to Awards Manager Anna Dobben at Technical questions should be emailed to Meredith Andrews at


Is my self-published book eligible?
Self-published books are not eligible if published via a publishing service, such as Kindle Direct Publishing. However, if a self-publisher publishes more than one author and is not published through a publishing service, the title would be eligible. The National Book Foundation may request a catalog of titles from a self-publisher to verify eligibility.

I missed the entry form deadline but would like to enter a book. Is this possible?
Unfortunately, no entries can be submitted once the entry form deadline has passed. Additionally, books submitted via the entry form by Wednesday, May 12, 2021 (midnight, PT) must be received by the National Book Foundation by either May 28 or June 30, 2021, depending on the book’s publication date. If a book is received after this date, the book is considered only at the judges’ discretion.

What should I do if galleys of an entered title won’t be available before June 30, 2021?
In the case where a galley copy or a title won’t be available until after June 30, 2021, please send a manuscript to the National Book Foundation before the June 30, 2021 deadline. Finished copies may be sent when they become available.

What if my book could be considered in more than one category?
Books may only be submitted in one category. Please choose the category most appropriate when entering the book for submission.

Are graphic novels, graphic memoirs, and/or comics eligible for the National Book Award?
Yes, provided they meet the other eligibility requirements.

How many titles are submitted for the National Book Award?
In 2020, 1,690 titles were submitted for consideration for the National Book Award. Of these titles, 388 were for Fiction, 609 were for Nonfiction, 254 were for Poetry, 130 were for Translated Literature, and 311 were for Young People’s Literature.

Can an author submit their own book for consideration?
No. The entry form must be completed by the author’s publisher in order for a book to be considered.

How will I know if judges have received the books?
We will contact any publisher who has entered titles but not yet sent them to the National Book Foundation before the deadline.

When will I be notified if a book I entered for consideration is on the Longlist?
If a book is chosen for the Longlist, the contact person who submitted the book will be notified in mid-September. For details regarding Longlist, Finalist and other National Book Award related announcements, please sign up for our newsletter.