Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

Winner: $60,000; Finalists: $5,000

Writers' Trust of Canada Literary Award Submissions call

Prize Guidelines

A prize of $60,000 will be awarded to a literary nonfiction book published between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018 that, in the opinion of the jury, is the year’s best book of nonfiction. Literary nonfiction includes, among other forms, works of personal or journalistic essays, memoirs, commentary, criticism both social and political, history, and biography. Finalist works will demonstrate a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and technique. The overall effect of such writing should provide the general reader with an informed, unique perspective on the issue at hand. The jurors will shortlist between three and five titles. Prizes of $5,000 will be awarded to each of the finalists.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Titles must be published between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018. Books that are not yet in final published form by the final deadline of July 18 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, the prize money will be divided as follows: $45,000 to the author, $15,000 to the translator.

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

  • All books must have an ISBN and be available in Canadian bookstores for some duration between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018.

  • 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 be previously published in book form.

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

  • Publishers should note that the prize is for literary excellence; they should only submit books deemed outstanding in this regard.

Nomination Process

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

Deadline 1: Wednesday, March 14, 2018
For books published between October 1, 2017 and March 13, 2018

Deadline 2: Wednesday, May 16, 2017 
For books published between March 14, 2018 and May 15, 2018

Deadline 3: Wednesday, July 18, 2018
For books published between May 16, 2018 and September 30, 2018

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 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 chart below 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:

  • 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 completed Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction online submission form listing all submitted titles and planned submissions. The form can be found at the bottom of this page; there is no need to print a paper copy.

  • A list of all titles published during the prize eligibility period. This list should include authors, titles, and dates of publication.

  • Images of the author and book cover suitable for reproduction in print materials. Please name each file “Nonfiction_AuthorLastName_FirstName” and “Nonfiction_AuthorLastName_BookTitle”. Upload files smaller than 10 GB via our web form.

Jury Composition

The finalists of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction are chosen by a three-person jury. 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 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. In evaluating the writing, literary merit is the sole criterion. 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 September 2018 and the award will be presented in November 2018 in Toronto at the Writers' Trust Awards.

Publisher Obligations

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

  • Supply the Writers’ Trust with 12 additional copies of the shortlisted book for publicity purposes.

  • Affix stickers provided by the Writers’ Trust to all outgoing copies of the current edition of the finalist and winning books and include prize sticker artwork on any subsequent editions.

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

  • Commit resources, in accordance to their ability, to ensure shortlisted authors are able to attend prize-related events in the fall of 2018.

Send book submissions to:

Amanda Hopkins, Program Manager
Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
Writers’ Trust of Canada
600 - 460 Richmond Street West
Toronto, ON  M5V 1Y1




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