First Novel Prize Submissions

2017 Submission Guidelines


The Center for Fiction is pleased to announce that submissions are now being accepted for our twelfth annual First Novel Prize. This annual award was created in 2006 to honor the best first novel of the year. In years past the winner has received a $10,000 prize with each shortlisted author receiving $1,000. The shortlist for the award will be announced in September 2017 and the prize will be given at The Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner held in December this year.





Any U.S. publisher may enter books that will be published between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. We prefer that these be submitted as finished copies, if available. Bound galleys and bound, edited manuscripts are also acceptable. You may apply and pay online, or you may send the entry form and fee directly to:


The First Novel Prize

The Center for Fiction

17 East 47th Street

New York, NY 10017


Small independent publishers may apply for a fee reduction; please contact us at or call 212-755-6710 for more information.


All entry forms and books must be postmarked no later than March 15, 2017. Entry forms and books may be sent separately. The Center for Fiction must receive eight copies of each book, bound galley, or bound, edited manuscript.


Publishers are urged not to hold submissions until the last possible date, but to send books, bound galleys, or bound, edited manuscripts AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. Our reading process begins immediately upon receipt.




Only first-time novelists who are American citizens or permanent residents are eligible for this award. Authors who have previously published novels in other countries are NOT eligible, even if the book in question is their first to be published in the U.S.


Only full-length first novels written in English are eligible. Novellas, collections of short stories, whether related or unrelated, and YA novels are NOT eligible.


Novels in ALL genres are welcome.


Only books published for the first time in the United States between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 are eligible.


Books previously published elsewhere are NOT eligible.


Self-published books and eBook-only editions are NOT eligible.


There is no limit on the number of books entered by each publisher, provided each submission complies with the rules as above. 


In the event of a dispute as to eligibility, The Center for Fiction will decide whether a book is eligible, and its decision will be binding.


Any books entered for the Awards process by the publishers that are subsequently determined to be ineligible, will still be subject to the stated entry fee of $50 per title.


The panel also may request titles that have not been submitted by publishers. Publishers are then asked by the Center to submit these titles for consideration and the entry fee will be waived.




All books submitted for the prize will be sent to the judging panel, which is made up of the previous year’s winner of the prize and a specially selected group of distinguished fiction writers. (Our judges in 2016 were Viet Thanh Nguyen, Chris Abani, Kate Christensen, Rivka Galchen, and Kate Walbert.) Each book will then be randomly assigned a “lead reader” from the panel. During the course of the spring and early summer, the judges will give a thorough read to their assigned “lead reader” books, provide an evaluation of each, and make a recommendation of five titles, which will be compiled into the long list announced in July. The judges will then all read these twenty-five books and reconvene in the fall to choose the short list and the winner.





Publishers of the winning and shortlisted books must agree:


A. To indicate that the book is a finalist or winner of the First Novel Prize by including approved text on future editions.


B. To inform authors of entered books that if chosen for the shortlist they must be present at the Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner in New York City and The First Novel Fête, both held in December. Travel and accommodations for each shortlisted author will not be covered by The Center for Fiction.


C. To inform authors that, if shortlisted, they must agree to participate in the Center’s related publicity, including a finalist reading (The First Novel Fête) just prior to the Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner. The shortlisted authors agree that their readings may be used in audio and/or video formats on The Center for Fiction’s website.  


D. All shortlisted writers agree to be interviewed for the Center’s website or podcast in audio and/or print formats. The shortlisted writers also agree that the interview may be used in an anthology of first novel finalist interviews.


E. The recipient of the Award must agree to allow his/her acceptance speech to be published in print, audio or video formats by The Center for Fiction on its website or podcast, and to be published in the Center newsletter and in a future anthology of first novelists’ interviews.