Nonfiction Prize

For the 2024 contest, the Autumn House staff as well as select outsider readers serve as the preliminary readers, and the final judge is Clifford Thompson. The winner receives publication of their full-length manuscript and $2,500. The submission period opens March 1, 2024, and closes April 30, 2024 (Eastern Time). We will announce the finalists and the winner of the contest by August 1, 2024. 

Guidelines for the Autumn House Nonfiction Prize

  • 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 150-300 double-spaced pages (37,500-75,000 words)
  • The reading fee is $35 (We will waive the submission fee for those undergoing financial hardship or living with limited means. Before you reach out to request a waived fee, please read our full statement and instructions here. If the guidelines are not followed, we will not be able to offer a waived fee.)
  • Personal essays and memoirs are eligible
  • The book should be previously unpublished
  • We only accept original manuscripts; AI-generated or AI-supported works are not accepted
  • 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 a bio or an acknowledgments page in the manuscript
  • Feel free to include a table of contents (This does not count as part of your final page count)
  • 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.

Clifford Thompson‘s books include What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man’s Blues (2019), which Time magazine named as one of the “most anticipated books” of the season, and which NPR called “captivating.” He is the author and illustrator of the graphic novel Big Man and the Little Men, which is “slim in size and substantial in impact,” in the words of the Times Literary SupplementThompson received a Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction in 2013 for Love for Sale and Other Essays, published by Autumn House Press, which also published his memoir, Twin of Blackness (2015). His personal essays and pieces on books, film, jazz, and American identity have found homes in publications including The Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalThe Village VoiceThe Times Literary SupplementThe Threepenny ReviewThe Iowa Review, Oxford AmericanThe Los Angeles Review of Books, The Best American Essays (2018), among others.  For over a dozen years he served as the editor of Current Biography, and he has taught creative nonfiction writing at The Bennington Writing Seminars, Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, Queens College, and  New York University.  Since 2015 he has been a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities. 


Winners of the Autumn House Nonfiction Prize

Year Author Title Judge
2023 Laura Jackson Deep and Wild Places: A Life in West Virginia Jenny Boully
2022 Julie Marie Wade Otherwise: Essays Lia Purpura
2021 Emily Pifer The Running Body Steve Almond
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.