Frequently Asked Questions
What are Whitney Awards?
The Whitney Awards were founded in 2007 by Robison Wells with the object of honoring the best fiction written each year by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A three-tiered system—with input from readers, judges, and a large academy of publishing professionals—is used to determine finalists and winners.
Who can nominate a book for the Whitney Awards?
Anyone can nominate a book, as long as:
- The nominator is at least twelve years old.
- The nominator of a book is not the author of the book, the publisher of the book, a publisher’s employee, or anyone else with a monetary interest in the book.
Can I nominate a non-fiction book for the Whitney Awards?
No. The Whitney Awards are given for novel-length fiction only. (“Novel length” is defined as at least 50,000 words. For the Middle Grade category, a book must be at least 20,000 words.)
Does a novel have to be published by an LDS publisher to be eligible?
No. The author must be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the novel does not have to be published in the market aimed at members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Are self-published or e-published books eligible for the Whitneys?
What rubrics or content guidelines are followed in the determination of finalists and winners?
We do not give a rubric to our judges or to the Academy awards because this is a reader based award rather than a literary one. We choose judges who are sophisticated and critical readers and allow them to make their own judgements on writing quality and content. Doing otherwise (screening nominees based on content and writing quality) would be based on subjective reasoning, therefore we have only required that the author be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All other factors such as content, language, and craft are to be judged by each individual person voting in the award process.
Can I nominate the same novel multiple times?
No. You can nominate a novel only once.
Can I nominate more than one novel?
Yes. You can nominate as many novels as you feel are deserving. There’s no limit to how many you can nominate.
I’d like to nominate a book for the 2019 Whitney Awards, but it was released in December 2018. Is the book still eligible for the 2019 awards?
No. Books published in December 2018 were eligible for the 2018 Whitney Award. In 2019, eligible books must be released between January 1 and October 31. Beginning in 2020, eligible books must be released between November 1st and October 31st of the award year, unless the publisher has done the print run in October and shipped to stores in November. The first day a book is for sale is considered the official release date.
If an author has published short stories before publishing a novel, would his/her novel still be eligible for the Best Novel by a New Author award?
Yes. Only a novel length publication counts as the first novel by a new author.
If an author has self-published or e-published a novel in the past, would his/her first traditionally published novel be eligible for the Best Novel by a New Author award?
No. An eligible new novel must be the first novel-length work published by the author in any format. “Novel-length” is defined as any work greater than 50,000 words. (Or greater than 20,000 words for the Middle Grade category.)
Does an author have to be a member of Storymakers in order for his/her books to be eligible for the Whitneys?
No. Authors do not need to be affiliated with Storymakers to qualify.
What is the Whitney Awards Committee?
The Awards Committee is a group of eight industry professionals. The committee president is appointed by the Storymakers Executive Committee. The committee president appoints the members of the committee, which must include at least three members of the Storymakers guild.
Any book written or published by a member of the Whitney Committee is not eligible for the awards during the year that the member serves on the committee.
When is the deadline for nominating a novel?
Books must be nominated by midnight, October 31st of the awards year.
What if I think I’ve been nominated but haven’t heard from the Whitney Committee?
Please contact the committee to inquire. The committee highly encourages all authors to have a contact email on their website, blog, or other location that will come up in a google search. We need to be able to contact you either directly, or through your publicist.
Why aren’t plays/picture books/poetry/other types of literature included in the Whitney Awards?
The Whitney Awards program was created specifically to acknowledge quality novels written by Latter-day Saints. The structure of the program doesn’t lend itself to other types of literature, including short stories, novellas, plays, poetry, picture books, nonfiction, and so on.
Will more genre categories be added?
The Whitney Awards began with five genre categories and two overall awards and has expanded since then. A new category adds significant expense in time and resources for the Whitney Awards committee, the judges, and the entire voting academy. To justify a new genre category, we must take many factors into consideration, including whether a possible category has had and will continue to have enough books published every year to remain competitive. We watch the industry to determine if and when additional categories are needed, and we weigh such decisions carefully. If new genres are ever added, they will be for novels; we have no intention now, or in the foreseeable future, of adding short stories, novellas, poetry, plays, picture books, nonfiction, or other categories that aren’t novels.
How will the winners be chosen?
Any eligible novel which receives five or more nominations will be considered an Official Nominee. Those Official Nominees will be evaluated by a panel of genre judges. Those judges will rank each novel. The five books in each category that receive the highest rankings will be Whitney Finalists, and be placed on the final ballot.
Final Ballots will be sent to all members of the Awards Academy.
Who comprises the Awards Academy?
The Awards Academy consists of:
- All eligible authors who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Eligible LDS publishing companies. For a company to be eligible, it must have published at least three LDS novels by at least two different authors during the awards year.
- Other professionals in the industry, as determined by the Whitney Awards Committee.
Is it possible for there to be no winner in a particular category?
Yes. “No Award” is a voting option in each category.
What if two books in a category receive the same number of votes?
In the event of a tie, all tied finalists will receive the Whitney Award.
When will the Whitney Awards be announced?
The Awards Banquet will be held on the last evening of the Storymakers Annual Writers Conference, held each spring.
What is the Awards Gala?
The Whitney Awards Gala is held each spring immediately following the Storymakers Writers Conference. The winners are announced and the awards are presented to the category winners and to the overall award winners, all of which have been chosen by the academy.
In addition, two special awards (Lifetime Achievement and/or Outstanding Achievement) are awarded to individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement and/or who have made significant contributions to the writing community of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Whitney Awards committee selects the special awards winners and announces their names prior to the gala.
More information about the gala can be found HERE.