The 13 Most Prestigious Literary Awards for Book Authors
Every writer starts somewhere. And thanks to the digital age, it is easier than ever for aspiring writers to get their work out there and into the hands of readers. Receiving a writer's award is a great way to do that. If you can get an award for writing, you can give your writing career an instant boost and reach new readers while also receiving the recognition you deserve as an author.
In this blog, we will address the following:
What is a literary award?
What kinds of awards do authors get?
What is the highest award for authors?
What is the highest award in literature?
How often is a writer's award presented?
And, of course, a summary of the most prestigious literary awards for writers.
What Is a Literary Award?
A literary award is a prize that recognizes excellence in fiction, poetry, children’s books, and other types of writing. Writer awards are a great way to put your writing career on the fast track in the literary world. They can give you the recognition you deserve as an author, as well as help you reach new readers.
What Are the Different Categories of Prestigious Literary Awards for Writers?
Awards Can Be Broken Down Into Two Main Categories:
General literary awards are not specific to any particular genre of writing, they include the Man Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Award.
General literary awards are typically given to a select number of books each year that focus on a wide range of different topics and genres.
These awards are often the most prestigious awards in literature and are often the most difficult to win.
General writer awards are also often open to both first-time and experienced writers, so don’t let your lack of experience stop you from pursuing these awards. After all, outstanding work is always rewarded.
Genre-specific awards are awarded to books in a specific genre, such as children's books, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, prose, poetry, short stories, etc.
Are Awards for Authors Awarded Annually?
In most cases, one can expect awards for writing almost annually. In some cases, certain writer's awards, such as the Booker Prize, are awarded every two years.
What Is the Highest Award in Literature?
In 2017, the New York Times said that the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Man Booker Prize, and National Book Awards for literature are "the world's most prestigious literary prizes" and are given to authors' outstanding work.
13 Most Prestigious Awards for Authors
The Four Most Prestigious Literary Awards
Named after Alfred Nobel, the famous Nobel Prize is awarded in a wide range of fields, including science, medicine, and peace. The Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded since 1901 and has been awarded to writers in over 50 different languages. The highest literary award is not easy to win.
The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to only a select number of authors by the Nobel committee since its inception, including Samuel Beckett, Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and T. S. Eliot.
Winning the Nobel Prize in Literature is a great accomplishment and grants an author worldwide recognition as well as a generous cash prize.
The most prestigious award for fiction in the United States hails from Columbia University. Named after Joseph Pulitzer, a renowned journalist in the 1800s, the prize recognizes works in print, digital, magazine journalism, musical composition, and literature.
It is run by Columbia University and has 21 categories. Twenty of the categories give a certificate and a cash prize of $15,000 USD.
In 1918, the Pulitzer unveiled its first award for fiction, naming Ernst Poole as its first recipient for his book titled, "This Family." Pulitzer Prizes are awarded in many different fields, including fiction, nonfiction, drama, editorial writing, and criticism.
The Pulitzer Prize is awarded to a select number of novels and short stories each year.
Man Booker Prize
The Man Booker Prize is the most prestigious award for fiction awarded to writers who are citizens of the United Kingdom. The monetary reward and the overall recognition and boost in readership are something coveted by all authors. The winner is awarded £50,000 as the grand prize. And the remaining six finalists or shortlisted authors receive £2,500 each.
The Man Booker Prize is open to all genres of fiction, but the vast majority of books that are selected as finalists and winners focus on the novel form.
The prize is awarded every two years, and not awarded annually.
National Book Awards
The National Book Award is a celebration of some of the best literature written by American authors.
Founded in 1950, the National Book Awards committee meets annually and handpicks 25 “distinguished writers, translators, critics, librarians, and booksellers” to form the judging committee for the National Book Awards.
The Neustadt International Prize for Literature
The Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which used to be called the Books Abroad International Prize, is a prestigious award sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and by its international literary publication, World Literature Today.
The first Neustadt Prize was awarded in 1970. The winner gets a certificate, a silver eagle feather, and prize money—the cash prize of $50,000.
Just like the Nobel Prize, the Neustadt International Prize is one of the literary awards awarded to individuals for their entire body of work in literature.
In 1988, Raja Rao was the first Indian writer to receive the Neustadt Prize. He has authored many extraordinary books in Kannada, English, and French.
Other Popular Awards for Writing
A prestigious award, or literary prize, for mystery writers in the United States, this is awarded to books that are written by an American author and are focused on a crime or mystery or to books that have “outstanding publication in the mystery or crime genre," and demonstrate a distinguished contribution in mystery writing that focuses on a wide range of different topics including crime, forensics, and more.
Named after Hugo Gernsback, also called the "Father of Magazine Science Fiction," who was a renowned magazine editor who made it his mission to bring science fiction to the masses.
He was the founder of Amazing Stories, the first major American science fiction magazine, in 1926. He is often credited for the boom in written science fiction. Not only does he have the Hugo Award named after him, but he also has a crater on the moon.
The Hugo Award was first presented in 1953, and is now presented annually—it is the most prestigious literary award one can receive for science fiction.
The Hugo Award is unique in that you cannot apply to be a candidate for this award. You have to be chosen by members of the World Science Fiction Society. These awards are presented at the World Science Fiction Convention.
Named after a school librarian in Topeka, Kansas, this is an annual award that honors contemporary literature for teens and focuses on young adult fiction.
America Award for American Literature
The America Award in Literature was first presented in 1994 to appreciate writers for their contributions to the literary world. It is sponsored by the Contemporary Arts Educational Project and Green Integer. The America Award has no monetary prize associated with it. Winners are chosen by a group of six to eight famous and esteemed American authors who form the awards committee.
John Newbery Medal
The John Newbery Medal is the most prestigious children’s writing award in the United States. It is awarded to a select number of fiction and nonfiction books written for readers between the ages of 9 and 14 each year.
It showcases books that “exemplify the best in children’s literature” and "young adult literature" with the most “appealing integrity of concept and execution.”
The Forward Prizes
The Forward Prizes are some of the most prestigious awards for short story writing in the United Kingdom, awarded to short story collections written by citizens of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland.
There are three separate prizes awarded by the Forward Prizes: The Best Book Award, the Best First Book Award, and the Best Collection Award.
Women's Prize for Fiction
The Women's Prize for Fiction is a registered charitable trust in the UK that seeks to award distinguished contributions by female authors all over the world as a means of empowerment and celebration, so they continue to share their writing and own their stories.
The Women's Prize for Fiction also has foundational programs such as Discoveries and First Chapter, which mentor and support aspiring female authors with tools, strategies, and mentorship to develop their writing. This award is presented annually as well.
They have excellent free resources online, such as their Women's Prize for Fiction Podcast. Listen in, you're in for a treat!
Costa Book Awards (Formerly Whitbread Book Awards)
Formerly known as the Whitbread Literary Awards (1971–1984), Whitbread Book Awards (1985–2005), and Costa Book Awards, these are awarded annually to writers residing in the UK and Ireland for books published in the previous year.
The Costa Book Awards have five categories: Poetry, novel, biography, first novel, and children's book or children's literature. Category winners in the Costa Awards receive a prize of £50,000 split equally amongst the winners.
The Samuel Johnson Prize
The Samuel Johnson Prize is the most prestigious award in the United Kingdom awarded to books in the nonfiction genre. The Samuel Johnson Prize is awarded to a select number of books each year that focus on a wide range of different topics, including history, biography, music, and politics.
It Is Never Too Late to Get Started. You Could Be the Next Recipient of Some Prestigious Award for Book Authors
Let's get you winning some awards for writing today by bringing your idea to life with one of our fiction or nonfiction bundles. Click here to book a call with our team.