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March 1, 2018
The grand prize is $5,000 and an author profile in Publishers Weekly, but all entrants receive a Critic’s Report, a brief critical assessment of their novel written by a Publishers Weekly reviewer.



The BookLife Prize (the “Prize” or “Contest”) is an annual writing contest sponsored by BookLife and Publishers Weekly. The Prize seeks to support independent authors and discover great written works in six categories: Romance/Erotica; Mystery/Thriller; Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror; General Fiction; Memoir/Autobiography; and Middle-Grade & YA Fiction. The Prize is judged by PW reviewers, editors, acclaimed authors, and publishing veterans, and awards are given to finalists in each category, with a grand cash prize of $5,000 going to the most outstanding finalist.  To see the results of the 2016 and 2017 Prizes, click here.

The entry period for the 2018 BookLife Prize has closed.



The mission of the BookLife Prize is to discover, cultivate, support, and celebrate great works of unpublished or self-published writing by independent authors. The Prize also aims to provide feedback to authors about their work, provide a Critic’s Report which may assist finalists in the marketing of their fiction, and provide financial support via a cash prize to the grand-prize winner.


The grand prize winner of the BookLife Prize will receive a cash prize of $5,000 as well as a profile in Publishers Weekly. The grand prize winner will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes that may result from winning.  

Finalists, one from each respective submission category of fiction, will receive a blurb (i.e., a promotional description, as found on the jackets of books) from a bestselling/award-winning author or professional editor serving as a guest judge for the Prize, as well as a mention in Publishers Weekly.

All entrants will receive a Critic’s Report, which includes a score as well as a brief written critical assessment of their novel by a Publishers Weekly reviewer.  (Click here for an example Critic's Report.)

"Since reaching the finals I have signed with a literary agent and been contacted by a film producer. Most importantly through the process of participating in the Prize, I got very valuable feedback on my work and broadened my author network considerably." T.J. Slee

Eligibility and Submissions

Unpublished or self-published novels -- works for which the author has subvented the cost of the book’s publication -- in the English language are eligible for the BookLife Prize.

Each submission can only be entered into one of the following categories:  Romance/Erotica; Mystery/Thriller; Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror; General Fiction; Memoir; and Middle-Grade & YA Fiction.

Novels submitted to the Middle Grade & YA Fiction category must contain 30,000 to 100,000 words. All other submissions must contain 40,000 to 100,000 words. Novellas, novelettes, short fiction, and collections are not eligible for submission. Authors may make multiple discrete submissions.

Employees of BookLife, its parent companies and their immediate family members are not eligible to enter the Contest.

All submissions must made between April 1, 2018, and August 31, 2018. 

Contest Structure

The BookLife Prize runs from April 1, 2018, to December 17, 2018, with the Contest divided into four rounds:

First Round (April 1, 2018, to August 31, 2018): All novels submitted to the BookLife Prize will be initially judged by the professional book reviewers of Publishers Weekly. Each submission will receive an evaluation called a Critic’s Report. Each Critic’s Report consists of a brief written critical assessment of the novel, as well as a rating -- on a one to 10 scale -- of the book’s strengths and weaknesses in the following categories: Characterization, Plot, Prose/Style, Originality, and Overall Strength. The submissions with the 10 highest scores in each genre will move to the quarter-finals.  The quarter-finalists will be announced on BookLife on September 21, 2018. (Due to the unexpectedly large number of entries received in the final weeks, the quarter-finalist announcement was delayed until Monday, September 24, 2018.)

Quarter-Finals (September 1, 2018, to October 1, 2018): All submissions advancing to the quarter-finals will be critically assessed by the editorial staffs of Publishers Weekly and BookLife. Of the quarter-finalists, five from each of the seven categories will be selected based on merit by PW and BookLife’s editors to advance to the semifinals. The semi-finalists will be announced on BookLife on October 1, 2018.

Semi-Finals (October 1, 2018, to October 31, 2018): All semi-finalist submissions will be critically assessed by a guest judge -- professional book editor or bestselling/award-winning author -- in each of the seven categories. The guest judges will select one submission from each category to advance to the finals round. These seven submissions will be the winners in each of their respective categories. Each of the seven finalists will also receive a blurb from the corresponding guest judge, as well as a mention in Publishers Weekly. The finalists will be announced on November 1, 2018.

Finals (November 1, 2018, to December 17, 2018): From the seven finalists, the panel of guest judges will select one grand prize winner, who will receive a cash prize of $5,000 as well as a profile in Publishers Weekly. The grand prize winner will be announced on December 17, 2018. The award will be paid no later than March 1, 2019. There are no cash awards being offered other than to the Contest grand prize winner.

Instructions and Entry Fee

The nonrefundable entry fee for all submissions to the Prize is $99. The entry period for the 2018 BookLife Prize will be April 1, 2018, through August 31, 2018. New users who have no BookLife account enter on this page. BookLife members enter the BookLife Prize by logging in and going to project page for the book or manuscript they'd like to enter.  Here are detailed instructions.

Critic’s Report Reuse Guide

All participants in the BookLife Prize will receive a Critic’s Report: a score and a written evaluation of their work from a Publishers Weekly reviewer. While the Critic’s Report in no way constitutes a book review from Publishers Weekly, authors are welcome to use the text of their Critic’s Reports as promotional copy or as blurbs to promote their books. Please note: When attributing quotes from Critic’s Reports, authors must credit The BookLife Prize. Additionally, Critic’s Reports are not any kind of conversation or correspondence with PW reviewers, who will remain anonymous. Critic’s Reports will be delivered to participants by email within five weeks of entry in the Prize; Critics Reports will also be accessible on authors’ dashboards on BookLife, where users can chose to make them public or keep them private.


Participation in the BookLife Prize constitutes an entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Terms, Conditions and Limitation of Liability and all other provisions herein (the “T&Cs”), as well as the decisions of the reviewers, editors and judges of the Prize.

Upon full refund of the submission fee in any particular instance, BookLife shall have no obligation, express or implied, to judge any entry and entrants shall not be entitled to any damages or other relief by reason thereof.

If for any reason, BookLife is not capable of running the Contest, BookLife reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Prize, without prior notice at any time, including the selection of prize winners in any manner it deems fair and reasonable including the selection of the prize winners from among eligible entries received prior to such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension.

BookLife reserves the right, to cancel, terminate or modify the Prize if it determines, in its sole discretion, that fraud or technical failures compromise the integrity of the Contest.

BookLife, its parent companies, sponsors of the Prize, their respective promotional partners, affiliated companies, agencies and their employees are not responsible for any individual’s inability to enter this contest, including but not limited to: failed software or hardware transmissions; unavailable network, server, telephone or other connections; errors of any kind, whether human, electronic, or mechanical regarding lost, misdirected, late, incomplete or damaged entries; or for any damage to any computer, network, hardware or software related to or resulting from participation and are additionally not liable for injury, losses, damages or costs of any kind resulting from participation in the Prize. By entering this contest, entrants opt into the use of their registration information in accordance with the BookLife and its parent company’s Privacy Policy and consent to receiving correspondence via telephone and/or email by BookLife and its parent companies.

Eligibility for winning any prize in the Contest is contingent on compliance with the T&Cs. BookLife reserves the right to declare any submission ineligible if it is determined not to be in accordance with the T&Cs; and

The Prize is void where prohibited by law. Federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.


Contestants specifically represent and warrant the following regarding each submission:

The work is original material written by the entrant. The entrant is entirely responsible for all content submitted;

The work has not been copied, in whole or in part, from any other work (as written in any language or in any medium, whether now known or hereafter devised) has not been previously published, produced, or distributed in any audio or visual form, or otherwise exploited in any medium (whether now known or hereafter devised, in whole or in part);

The work does not defame, and does not infringe or violate the right of privacy, right of publicity, copyright, trademark, service mark, trade secret, or any intellectual property, proprietary or other right(s) of, any third party;

The work does not include the name or likeness of any actual person(s), without having obtained the express prior written consent of such person(s) (or of such person’s parent or legal guardian if such person is a minor) in each instance; and

The work meets each of the content requirements found in the T&Cs.


Click here for a list of frequently asked questions about the BookLife Prize.