The Kirkus Prize was created to celebrate the 80 plus years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large. The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world. The award is $50,000 in each of three categories: the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature. The Kirkus Prize annually bestows a total of $150,000 in recognition of outstanding literary achievements. In each category, six finalists will be announced on Sept. 25, 2018, and the winners will be announced on Oct. 25, 2018. The finalists and winners are selected in each category by an esteemed panel composed of three judges: a nationally respected writer, a highly regarded bookseller or librarian, and a Kirkus critic.
Books reviewed by Kirkus Reviews that earned the Kirkus Star with original publication dates between Nov. 1, 2017, and Oct. 31, 2018, are automatically nominated for the 2018 Kirkus Prize. Children’s and teen books are frequently dependent on finished art and design to have their full effect. In order to ensure that judges have access to finished copies of all titles under consideration, the eligibility dates for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature are Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 28, 2018. Kirkus’ editors and staff evaluate each of the nominated books to determine which ones make it to the next round of consideration, which is conducted by a panel of judges. The Prize consists of three categories: the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature. Both traditionally published and self-published books reviewed by Kirkus that earn the Star are eligible. Because a number of indie books are submitted for review past publication date, a starred indie book is considered eligible if the date Kirkus publishes its review online falls within the date parameters of Sept. 1, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2018.
From the many submissions they receive, the editors of Kirkus Reviews select for review approximately 8,000-10,000 books per year. If your book is traditionally published, you or your publicist can learn how to submit your book for review by reading these guidelines. If your book is self-published, you can submit your book to Kirkus’ indie department by following these guidelines.
By any standard, the number of books Kirkus Reviews covers yearly is notable, but not every book the magazine’s editors receive can be reviewed. In addition to reviewing many self-published books, Kirkus' indie section regularly reviews traditionally published books that weren’t selected for review in the fiction, nonfiction, or children’s/teen sections.
On average, Kirkus’ editors award the Kirkus Star to 10 percent of all the books they assign for review. Their decisions are based on their long-running, deep knowledge of contemporary trends in publishing and their appreciation for exceptional writing and illustration.
The editors work closely with our reviewers to determine whether a book receives a Star, but the decision belongs ultimately to our editors.
The editors of Kirkus Reviews administer the judging process and conduct the first round of eliminations, but they do not select the finalists or winning books. They help the judges acquire the eligible books and answer the judges’ questions, but the decisions about which books are finalists and winners belong entirely to the judges.
Like many other American book awards, the Kirkus Prize is categorized broadly; there are three Kirkus Prizes: the Kirkus Prize for Fiction; the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction; and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature. Our judges are chosen for their intellectual curiosity, sense of fairness and wide knowledge of literary excellence across the various genres within the category of books they’re judging.
There are six finalists announced in each of the three categories of the Prize. In the category of Young Readers’ Literature, the judges will name two picture books, two middle-grade books and two teen books as the finalists.
If your book has more than one creator (an author and an illustrator, for example, or more than one author), the prize money will be distributed equitably among the various creators as determined by the judges and administrators of the Kirkus Prize.
The Prizes are awarded based on the excellence of the books under consideration; any type of creator (as named on a book’s title page) whose work contributes to the excellence of the winning book will be named as recipients of the Prize in the appropriate category.
Eligibility for the Prize is limited to books that earn the Kirkus Star whose original publication date falls between Nov. 1, 2017, and Oct. 31, 2018 (though please see the exceptions to these dates in the response to the first question above). Both hardcover, paperback originals, and e-book originals are eligible, but reissues are not eligible.
If a book with new illustrations earns the Kirkus Star, it would be considered eligible; all creators named on the title page would be named winners, and the prize money would be distributed equitably between or among them. This principle applies to any new, transformative treatment of a previously published book, such as a new translation, as determined by the Prize judges and administrators.
Apps and enhanced/interactive e-books are not eligible for the Kirkus Prize at this time.
Yes, according to guidelines set forth elsewhere in this FAQ page.
Eligibility for the Prize is determined by the publication date on record in Kirkus’ database.
In an effort to provide the most relevant information possible for its readership, when a precise publication date is not otherwise available at the time of a book’s assignment, Kirkus’ editors often use a book’s on-sale date as its publication date. In these cases, Kirkus’ decision determines a book’s eligibility.