Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing

Winner: $25,000; Finalists: $2,500

Prize Guidelines

A prize of $25,000 will be awarded to a book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on contemporary Canadian political life. The winning work combines compelling new insights with depth of research and significant literary merit. All finalist works will demonstrate a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and analysis. The prize particularly values books which provide the general reader with an informed, unique perspective on the practice of Canadian politics, its players, or its principles. The jurors will shortlist between three and five titles. Prizes of $2,500 will be awarded to each of the finalists.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Publishers should note that the prize is for literary excellence; they should only submit books they deem outstanding in this regard. Books that are strictly hagiography or political advocacy or which fail to illuminate political trends or issues are unlikely to be shortlisted.
  • Titles must be published in Canada between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. Books that are not yet in published form by the final deadline of November 22, 2017 may be submitted as bound galleys.

  • Books must be English-language, first-edition trade books, written by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Previous publication in another country does not disqualify a book.

  • Translations from other languages into English are eligible and will be considered in the year in which the English translation is published. In the event of a translation winning the prize, it will be divided as follows: $18,750 to the author, $6,250 to the translator.

  • To be eligible, publishing houses must have a professional editorial process independent from the authors whose books are submitted for consideration. They must not charge authors for publishing their works.

  • All books must have an ISBN number and be available in Canadian bookstores for some duration between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. 

  • Titles may be single-authored or co-authored. multi-authored collections, anthologies, and conference proceedings are not eligible.

  • Self-published books are not eligible.

  • Ghostwritten books are not eligible.

  • No more than 20% of the manuscript can have previously been published in book form.

  • Books whose author was deceased at the time of publication are not eligible. 

Nomination Process

The schedule for submissions is tied to publication dates as follows:

Deadline 1: July 5
For books published between January 1, 2017 and July 4, 2017

Deadline 2: September 13 
For books published between July 5, 2017 and September 12, 2017

Deadline 3: November 22 
For books published between September 13, 2017 and December 31, 2017

Publishers are strongly encouraged to submit books prior to the deadlines. Submissions upon release of titles are appreciated. If a publisher, for any reason whatsoever, feels they cannot submit titles in accordance with the above schedule it is requested that they contact the Program Manager to discuss alternate arrangements or the possibility of an extension.

Number of Submissions

All publishers of original manuscripts may enter two books by Canadian authors; companies publishing more than ten eligible nonfiction titles during the 2017 calendar year may add one book for every additional ten eligible books (or fraction thereof) on their nonfiction list, up to a maximum of five. See the below chart for reference.

Books Published:

Eligible to Submit:

10 or fewer 2
11 - 20 3
21 - 30 4
31 or more 5

Required Materials

The following must be submitted by the final deadline on November 22, 2017:
  • Five copies of each eligible title in book form; or three bound galleys, with at least two copies of the finished book to be received by the Writers’ Trust upon publication.

  • A Shaughnessy Cohen Prize online submission form listing all submitted titles and planned submissions. The form can be found at the bottom of this page. We do not require a paper copy of the form.

  • Publishers submitting more than two titles must provide a list of all titles published during the calendar year on which that publisher’s eligibility is based. This list should include authors, titles, and dates of publication.

  • Electronic images of the author and book cover suitable for reproduction in print materials. Please name each file “Political_Author Last Name, First Name” or “Political_Author Last Name_Book Title.” Upload files smaller than 10 GB via our web form.

Jury Composition

A three-person jury selects the winner and finalists of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. The jury acts independently of the Writers’ Trust and is charged with interpreting the mandate and eligibility criteria of the prize, as well as determining which of the submissions best reflect the prize mandate. Each juror may request an unlimited number of additional titles from a publisher’s list. Such titles are on equal footing with all other submissions, provided that their publishers agree to abide by the conditions laid out in this document. The judgment of the jury in selecting the winners, determining eligibility, and interpreting these rules is final.

Announcement of Nominees & Winners

The list of finalist authors will be announced in early 2018. The award will be presented four to six weeks later in Ottawa at Politics and the Pen, an annual Writers' Trust fundraising dinner. 

Publisher Obligations

If an author is a finalist the publisher will agree to:

  • Supply the Writers’ Trust with eighteen additional copies of the shortlisted book for publicity.

  • Affix stickers provided by the Writers’ Trust to finalist books and the winning book.

  • Participate in promotion and publicity efforts undertaken by the Writers’ Trust and stress the importance of this with their authors.

Send submissions to:

Amanda Hopkins, Program Manager
Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing
Writers’ Trust of Canada
600 - 460 Richmond Street West
Toronto, ON  M5V 1Y1




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