Submissions for the 14th Annual Book of the Year are Open

Book of the Year Awards

If your book was published between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024, you may submit it to the CWA Book of the Year Awards. The contest is open to members and non-members, to authors and publishers. 

We accept submissions in four categories:

  • Traditional Fiction
  • Indie Fiction
  • Traditional Nonfiction
  • Indie Nonfiction 

See the guidelines on the entry page and be sure your book is submitted to the correct category.

Entries will be accepted from June 1, 2024 until August 1, 2024. Entries postmarked after midnight on August 1, 2024 will be disqualified.

Finalists will be announced in October. Winners will be announced in December.

Winners will be honored at a ceremony at The Warwick Allerton Hotel on January 18, 2025.


Submit your entry here:

  1. This page has all the pertinent details/instructions and the mailing address to send your book. 
  2. CHECKS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. Payment is made when submitting the electronic entry form. 
  3. After submitting the entry form, send your book to the address on the form before midnight August 1st. 
  4. The entry fee is $15.00 for CWA members and $25.00 for non-members.


 (Publishers may submit an entry for one or more authors - each one must be submitted individually.)

PLEASE NOTE: Books submitted to the contest cannot be returned.

Past Winners of the Book of the Year Awards


Traditional Fiction: The Last Dreamwalker by Rita Woods

Indie Fiction: For Those Who Favor Fire: Short Stories by Gary D. Wilson

Traditional Non-Fiction: If This Were Fiction: A Love Story in Essays by Jill Christman

Indie Non-Fiction: Marv Taking Charge by Lois Hoitenga Roelofs


Traditional Fiction: Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe

Traditional Nonfiction: This Jade World by Ira Sukrungruang

Indie Fiction: Addio, Love Monster by Christina Marrocco

Indie Nonfiction: So Costly a Sacrifice by Mark Hutson


Traditional Fiction: How to Walk on Water by Rachael Swearingen

Traditional Nonfiction: Edith: The Rogue Rockefeller McCormick by Andrea Friederici Ross

Indie Fiction: A Bend in the River by Libby Fischer Hellman

Indie Nonfiction: Luck is a Talent by Gary V. Johnson


Traditional Fiction: Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

Traditional Nonfiction: From Miniskirt to Hijab by Jacqueline Saper

Indie Fiction: Still Come Home by Katey Schultz

Indie Nonfiction: From Inspiration to Activism by Mary Lang Solinger

Spirit Award: Jennifer Brown Banks


Traditional Fiction: Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy

Traditional Non-Fiction: In Deep: How I survived Gangs, Heroin, and Prison to Become a Chicago Violence Interrupter by Angalia Bianca, with Linda Beckstrom

Indie Fiction: A Dangerous Identity by Russell Fee

Indie Non-Fiction: The Buddha at My Table by Tammy Letherer

Spirit Award: Bill Turck & Kerri Kendall


Traditional Fiction: Poison Girls by Cheryl L. Reed

Indie Fiction: Chuckerman Makes a Movie by Francie Arenson Dickman

Traditional Nonfiction: Tinker to Evers to Chance by David Rapp

Indie Nonfiction: Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago by Linda Gartz

Spirit Award: George Rawlinson, author, publisher, Chicago Writers Association Board of Directors


Traditional Fiction: The Virginity of Famous Men by Christine Sneed

Indie Fiction: out the door! by M.L. Collins

Traditional Nonfiction: Algren: A Life by Mary Wisniewski

Indie Nonfiction: Of This Much I’m Sure by Nadine Kenney Johnstone

Spirit Award: Suzy Takacs, owner of The Book Cellar and supporter of Chicago writers and the literary community


Traditional Fiction: The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay

Non-Traditional Fiction: A Bitter Pill to Swallow by Tiffany Gholar

Traditional Nonfiction: The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America by Ethan Michaeli

Non-Traditional Nonfiction: Hugh Hefner’s First Funeral and Other True Tales of Love and Death in Chicago by Pat Colander

Spirit Award: Donald G. Evans, founder and executive director of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame


Traditional Fiction: Old Heart: A Novel by Peter Ferry

Non-Traditional Fiction: The Wet Nose of Danger by James Finn Garner

Traditional Nonfiction: Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation by Dean Jobb

Non-Traditional Nonfiction: a different kind of same by Kelley Clink

Lifetime Achievement Award: Karen Thomson, founder and director of Literature for All of Us


Traditional Fiction: The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Non-Traditional Fiction: Carpe Diem, Illinois (A Leo Townsend novel) by Kristin A. Oakley

Traditional Nonfiction: Meaty by Samantha Irby

Non-Traditional Nonfiction: Famous Ski Hills in Wisconsin by Scott Jacobs


Traditional Fiction: Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum

Non-Traditional Fiction: 30 Days to Empathy, by The 31 and Jay C. Rehak (Editor)

Traditional Nonfiction: We Hope You Like This Song by Bree Housley

Non-Traditional Nonfiction: Any Road Will Take You There by David W. Berner


Traditional Fiction: The Temple of Air by Patricia Ann McNair

Non-Traditional Fiction: Coming Out Can Be Murder by Renee James

Traditional Nonfiction: Whiskey Breakfast: My Swedish Family, My American Life by Richard C. Lindberg

Non-Traditional Nonfiction: Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back by Kelly Farley


Traditional Fiction: Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry by Christine Sneed

Non-Traditional Fiction: Honk Honk, My Darling: A Rex Koko Private Clown Mystery by James Finn Garner

Traditional Nonfiction: Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on our Way to Love and Motherhood by Pamela Ferdinand, Carey Goldberg and Beth Jones

Non-Traditional Nonfiction: Giants in the Park: A Guide to Portrait Statues in Chicago’s Lincoln Park by Krista August

Spirit Award Past Winners


Jennifer Brown Banks, a founding organizer of the Chicago Writers Association, longtime CWA board member, award-winning content creator, veteran freelance writer, senior editor and strategist.


Bill Turck & Kerri Kendall, talk-radio show hosts bringing celebrity guests and up and coming artists and writers, helpful how-to’s, and more from around the world.


George Rawlinson, longtime CWA board member, author, publisher, and tireless advocate for Chicago and its rich literary tradition; generous supporter of our writing community; inspiration to all who have been touched by his warmth and kindness and generous, loving spirit.


Suzy Takacs, owner of The Book Cellar and tireless advocate for Chicago literature and the people who create it.


Donald G. Evans, founder and executive director of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame


Karen Thomson (Lifetime Achievement Award), founder and director of Literature for All of Us