Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing

Winner: $25,000; Finalists: $2,500

Prize Guidelines

A prize of $25,000 will be awarded to a book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on Canadian political life. The winning work combines compelling new insights with depth of research and significant literary merit. All finalist works will demonstrate a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and technique. The overall effect of such writing should provide the general reader with an informed, unique perspective on the issue at hand. The jurors will shortlist between three and five titles. Prizes of $2,500 will be awarded to each of the finalists.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Titles must be published in Canada between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013. Books that are not yet in published form by the final deadline of November 13, 2013 may be submitted as bound galleys.

  • Books must be English-language, first-edition trade books published by a Canadian press, written by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Previous publication in another country does not disqualify a book.

  • Translations from other languages into English are eligible and will be considered in the year in which the English translation is published. In the event of a translation winning the prize, it will be divided as follows: $18,750 to the author, $6,250 to the translator.

  • To be eligible, publishing houses must have a professional editorial process independent from the authors whose books are submitted for consideration. They must not charge authors for publishing their works.

  • All books must have an ISBN number and be available in Canadian bookstores.

  • Titles may be single-authored or co-authored. Multi-authored collections, anthologies, and conference proceedings are not eligible.

  • Self-published books are not eligible.

  • Ghostwritten books are not eligible.

  • No more than 20% of the manuscript can have previously been published in book form.

  • Books whose author was deceased at the time of publication are not eligible. Publishers should note that the prize is for literary excellence; they should only submit books they deem outstanding in this regard.

Nomination Process

The schedule for submissions is tied to publication dates as follows:

Deadline 1: Wednesday, May 1, 2013
For books published between January 1, 2013 and April 30, 2013

Deadline 2: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
For books published between May 1, 2013 and September 3, 2013

Deadline 3: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
For books published between September 4, 2013 and December 31, 2013

Publishers are strongly encouraged to submit books prior to the deadlines. Submissions upon release of titles are appreciated. If a publisher, for any reason whatsoever, feels they cannot submit titles in accordance with the above schedule it is requested that they contact the Program Manager to discuss alternate arrangements. Publishers of books not yet published by the final deadline and not yet available in galley form will need to contact the Program Manager for a possible extension.

Number of Submissions

All Canadian-based publishers of original manuscripts may enter two books; companies publishing more than ten eligible nonfiction titles during the 2013 calendar year may add one book for every additional ten eligible books (or fraction thereof) on their non-fiction list, up to a maximum of five. See the below chart for reference.

Books Published:

Eligible to Submit:

10 or fewer 2
11 - 20 3
21 - 30 4
31 or more 5

Required Materials

The following must be submitted by the final deadline on November 6, 2013:
  • Five copies of each eligible title in book form; or three bound galleys, with at least two copies of the finished book to be received by the Writers’ Trust upon publication.

  • A Writers’ Trust Awards Prize Entry Form listing all submitted titles and planned submissions sent with the first shipment of books (do not send mulitiple copies unless you make changes to your submission plans). To request a form please email:

  • Publishers submitting more than two titles must provide a list of all titles published during the calendar year on which that publisher’s eligibility is based. This list should should include authors, titles, and dates of publication.

  • Electronic images of the author and book cover suitable for reproduction in print materials. Contact the Program Manager for instructions on uploading to our FTP site or send via email to Please name each file by the prize genre, author name, and book title.

Jury Composition

A three-person jury selects the winner and finalists of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. The jury acts independently of the Writers’ Trust and is charged with interpreting the mandate and eligibility criteria of the prize, as well as determining which of the submissions best reflect the prize mandate. In evaluating the writing, literary merit is the sole criteria. Each juror may request an unlimited number of additional titles from a publisher’s list. Such titles are on equal footing with all other submissions, provided that their publishers agree to abide by the conditions laid out in this document. The judgment of the jury in selecting the winners, determining eligibility, and interpreting these rules is final.

Announcement of Nominees & Winners

The list of finalist authors will be announced in early 2014. The award will be presented shortly after in Ottawa at the Writers’ Trust Politics and the Pen event. If an author is a finalist the publisher will agree to:

  • Supply the Writers’ Trust with eighteen additional copies of the shortlisted book for publicity.

  • Affix stickers provided by the Writers’ Trust to finalist books and the winning book.

  • Participate in promotion and publicity efforts undertaken by the Writers’ Trust and stress the importance of this with their authors.

Send submissions to:

Amanda Hopkins, Program Manager
The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
The Writers’ Trust of Canada
200 - 90 Richmond Street East
Toronto, ON M5C 1P1


Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction and Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
Second Deadline

May 28, 2014 for books published between
March 26 & May 27

Woodcock Fund





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