When can I enter the literary awards? The Call for Submissions and contest guidelines are posted to the website by June 1 of each year. The deadline to submit may vary, so please read the guidelines carefully.
Can I enter the literary awards if my book is self-published or print-on-demand?
No. Only professionally published books (i.e. when an author receives payment from a recognized publisher) are considered eligible. Companies such as Publish America, Author’s Choice, Lulu.com, Book Surge, etc., are considered print-on-demand and are ineligible.
I live west of the Mississippi, but I’m not a U.S. citizen. Can I enter the awards?
Yes. The awards are open to works published or produced by writers who currently reside in the United States west of the Mississippi River, including all of Minnesota and Louisiana.
I am a U.S. citizen and I live in British Columbia, Canada. It’s west of the Mississippi River. Can I enter the awards?
No. Only writers who live in the United States may enter the literary awards.
I lived west of the Mississippi River while I was researching and writing the book, but I moved before I decided to enter the awards. Am I still eligible?
Yes. You must have lived west of the Mississippi River while writing the submitted work.
Can I enter more than one title per year?
Yes. Provided each book or work you are submitting was published in the calendar year for which we are soliciting, you may enter as many different titles as you see fit.
Do I have to be a member of PEN Center USA to enter the literary awards?
No. The only requirement is that your book or work is published in the calendar year for which we are soliciting and that you reside west of the Mississippi River.
Can I submit my own book, or does my publisher have to?
Works may be submitted by the authors, their publishers, agents, or publicists, provided we receive four copies of each book, the submission fee, and a completed submission form.
What methods of payment do you accept for submissions?
We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, checks and money orders. Please do not send cash.
I wrote my play ten years ago but it was not produced until this year. Am I eligible?
Yes. The only eligibility requirement for performance categories (i.e. Drama, Teleplay and Screenplay) is that they were originally performed or produced in the calendar year for which we are soliciting.
I wrote a children’s book and I live east of the Mississippi, but my illustrator lives west of it. Is our book eligible?
No. Unfortunately, the author must reside west of the Mississippi as this is a literary competition.
I co-authored a book, and one of us lives west of the Mississippi while one of us lives east. Is our book eligible?
Yes. However, if a book is co-authored by three people, two of the three must reside west of the Mississippi.
I can’t decide which category my work falls under. Can PEN Center USA choose for me, or can I select multiple categories?
No. Before submitting, you must decide the category in which you wish your work to be judged. There is no multiple category consideration.
Are anthologies eligible?
No. Only works of the same genre by one author are considered eligible. Example: a collection of short stories by one author IS eligible, while a collection of multiple authors’ poetry is NOT.
Attending the Literary Awards Festival
When is the Literary Awards Festival (Lit Fest)?
LitFest is usually held sometime in early to mid-November. A press release with the exact date and time is released in early September along with an announcement of the winners and finalists for that year’s competition.
Can anyone attend Lit Fest?
Absolutely. Everyone is welcome to purchase a ticket.
I am a published author. Do I receive a discount on tickets for Lit Fest?
Only authors who are Professional Members of PEN Center USA before purchasing their ticket can receive a discount.
I would like to purchase ad space in the Tribute Book for Lit Fest. Who do I contact? Please contact PEN Center USA at (323) 424-4939 x201