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Book Award Guidelines / 2015

The Housatonic Book Awards are open for nominations between March 15 and June 15 (postmark deadline). Please read over our guidelines before submitting. If you would like to learn more, please check our FAQ section. The mission of the Housatonic Book Awards is to promote excellent writing, to identify authors who serve as professional role models for writing students, and to develop the WCSU MFA in Creative and Professional Writing Program scholarship fund.

Award recipients will be named in early October 2015. 

Entry Form and Guidelines

The following categories open March 15th, 2015:

Housatonic Award for Fiction / January Residency

Housatonic Award for Poetry / January Residency

Housatonic Award for Nonfiction / August Residency

Housatonic Award for Children & Young Adult / August Residency

Eligible Submission

Any publisher, author, agent, or any legal representative of an author may enter a title into the appropriate award by genre. Entering the title implies the author’s willingness to attend the WCSU MFA residency indicated in the description below for the award. The honorarium is awarded in exchange for and after the completion of appearance at the appropriate residency. If the author is unable to attend the residency, the award will not be granted to the author. Another recipient will be chosen.

The following people are ineligible for the awards: students at Western Connecticut State University, graduates of the Western Connecticut State University MFA program, authors who have had books published by publishing houses that are currently operated by MFA faculty or who operate presses that have published current MFA faculty, faculty who have taught at Western Connecticut State University within the previous five years, employees of the state of Connecticut, and spouses, partners, relatives, or recent former students (within past five years) of current faculty in the Western Connecticut State University Department of Writing, Linguistics, and Creative Process.

While the Housatonic Book Awards do not publish new work, the awards comply with the intent and spirit of the CLMP Code of Ethics:

CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines — defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.

The Housatonic Book Awards are operated by the MFA in Creative and Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University in cooperation with the MFA Alumni Writers’ Cooperative (AWC). All entries will be logged in the MFA office and screened by a panel of writers from the AWC. The winner in each category will be selected by that panel in cooperation with the MFA Coordinator.

The 2015 Housatonic Book Awards will be granted to full-length books published in the 2014 calendar year.

Housatonic Award for Fiction

Granted to a book of short or long fiction published in the previous year. The award will alternate annually between literary fiction and genre fiction; the 2015 Award will go to a title categorized as genre fiction, which may include but is not limited to mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, suspense, thriller, and horror. The Award carries a $1000 honorarium in exchange for appearing at the January residency of the MFA in Creative and Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University (the first week of January) to give a public reading and a one-day, three-hour workshop with MFA students. The Award also includes a $500 travel stipend and hotel stay during the residency. To enter, send a copy of the book along with entry form and a check for $25 by June 15, 2015 to the address that appears on the entry form, or enter electronically at the Book Awards web site. If you are entering a hard copy of the book with a check, we ask that you either submit second copy of the book or send a .pdf of the book to clementsb@wcsu.edu. The 2014 winner in Fiction (literary) was Jennifer duBois’s Cartwheel (Random House).

Housatonic Award for Poetry

Granted to a book of poetry (at least 40 pages) published in the previous year. The Award carries a $1000 honorarium in exchange for appearing at the January residency of the MFA in Creative and Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University (the first week of January) to give a public reading and a one-day, three-hour workshop with MFA students. The Award also includes a $500 travel stipend and hotel stay during the residency. To enter, send a copy of the book along with entry form and a check for $25 by June 15, 2015 to the address that appears on the entry form, or enter electronically at the Book Awards web site. If you are entering a hard copy of the book with a check, we ask that you either submit second copy of the book or send a .pdf of the book to clementsb@wcsu.edu. The 2014 winner in Poetry was Gail Martin’s Begin Empty-Handed (Perugia Press).

Housatonic Award for Nonfiction (Includes Creative Nonfiction)

Granted to a nonfiction book (including all subgenres—memoir, creative nonfiction, investigative and other varieties of journalism, travel, political, science, business communications, public relations, self-help, etc.). The Award carries a $1000 honorarium in exchange for appearing at the August residency of the MFA in Creative and Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University (the first week of August) to give a public reading and a one-day, three-hour workshop with MFA students. The Award also includes a $500 travel stipend and hotel stay during the residency. To enter, send a copy of the book along with entry form and a check for $25 by June 15, 2015 to the address that appears on the entry form, or enter electronically at the Book Awards web site. If you are entering a hard copy of the book with a check, we ask that you either submit second copy of the book or send a .pdf of the book to clementsb@wcsu.edu. The 2014 winner in Nonfiction was Mardi Jo Link’s Bootstrapper (Knopf).

Housatonic Award for Writing for Middle Grades or Young Adults

Granted to a book of fiction or nonfiction for children and young adults between the ages of 8 and 16. The Award carries a $1000 honorarium in exchange for appearing at the August residency of the MFA in Creative and Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University (the first week of August) to give a public reading and a one-day, three-hour workshop with MFA students. The Award also includes a $500 travel stipend and hotel stay during the residency. To enter, send a copy of the book along with entry form and a check for $25 by June 15, 2015 to the address that appears on the entry form, or enter electronically at the Book Awards web site. If you are entering a hard copy of the book with a check, we ask that you either submit second copy of the book or send a .pdf of the book to clementsb@wcsu.edu. The 2014 winner in Middle/YA was A. B. Westrick’s Brotherhood (Viking).

Payment of Award

The $500 travel stipend will be paid before the end of 2015. The $1000 honorarium will be paid upon completion to the winner’s appearance at the designated residency of the WCSU MFA program.

Additional Requirements

  • All work submitted must be in English.
  • No translations; no anthologies.
  • Each book must be a self-contained entity.
  • Collaborations are acceptable, and the advertised honorarium will be split evenly.
  • Agents and publisher who submit on behalf of the author, please notify the writer that their work is under consideration for the award.

Deadline

Postmark of June 15, 2015 for entries by mail. Electronic entries must be submitted by midnight on June 15.

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