Nonfiction Contest

Guidelines for the 2021 Autumn House Nonfiction Contest

For the 2021 contest, the Autumn House staff serves as the preliminary readers, and the final judge is Steve Almond. The winner receives publication of a full-length manuscript and $2,500. The submission period opens January 15, 2021, and closes June 15, 2021 (Eastern Time). We will announce the finalists and the winner of the contest by October 1, 2021. 

  • The winner will receive book publication, a $1,000 honorarium, and a $1,500 travel/publicity grant to promote their book
  • All finalists will be considered for publication
  • Nonfiction submissions should be approximately 200-300 double-spaced pages (50,000-75,000 words)
  • The reading fee for the Nonfiction Contest is $30 (We will waive the submission fee for anyone undergoing financial hardship or living with limited means. Please reach out, and we’ll step you through the submission process)
  • All nonfiction subjects (including personal essays, memoirs, travel writing, historical narratives, nature writing) or any combination of subjects are eligible
  • Submission should be previously unpublished
  • Do not include your name anywhere on the actual manuscript; if your name appears within the body of the text, please omit it or black it out (first name is fine, but last name must be omitted)
  • You may include a brief bio in the “cover letter” section of Submittable
  • Do not include an acknowledgments page in the manuscript
  • Feel free to include a table of contents
  • Simultaneous submissions permitted
  • Friends, family members, and former students of judges or Autumn House editors may not submit to the contest. Students do not include interactions at short-term residencies or fellowships.
  • Former employees of Autumn House, including interns, may not submit to the contest.

If you have any questions, please check our FAQ page.


Winners of the Autumn House Nonfiction Prize

Year Author Title Judge
2020 Nicholas Ward All Who Belong May Enter Jaquira Díaz
2019 Melissa Wiley Skull Cathedral: A Vestigial Anatomy Paul Lisicky 
2018 Jennifer Renee Blevins Limited by Body Habitus:
An American Fat Story
Daisy Hernández
2017 Dickson Lam Paper Sons: a memoir  Alison Hawthorne Deming
2016 Katherine McCord RUN SCREAM UNBURY SAVE Michael Martone
2015 Harrison Candelaria Fletcher Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams Dinty W. Moore
2014 Jill Kandel So Many Africas Dinty W. Moore
2013 Adam Patric Miller A Greater Monster Phillip Lopate
2012 Clifford Thompson Love for Sale and Other Essays Phillip Lopate


We strive to run our contests ethically and subscribe to CLMP’s guidelines. We encourage you to reach out if you are uncertain about a potential conflict of interest.