Sarton Women's Book Awards™: Guidelines

Eligibility Period 2016-2019*

Early Bird Entry Closes July 31, 2019

The Sarton Women's Book Awards™ are sponsored by the Story Circle Network, an international nonprofit association of women writers. Awards are presented annually in five categories. Lesbian entries are welcome in all categories.
  • Memoir
  • Nonfiction: Biography, Collective biography, Edited diaries, Scholarly studies of women's literature, Anthologies
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • Historical Fiction
  • Young Adult and New Adult Fiction
  • Young Adult Nonfiction
The award program is named in honor of May Sarton, who is remembered for her outstanding contributions to women's literature as a memoirist, novelist, and poet.

The awards are given annually to women authors writing chiefly about women in memoir, biography and fiction published in English in the United States and Canada and selected from works submitted. The awards are limited to submissions originally written in English and published by small/independent publishers, university presses, and author-publishers (self-publishing authors). The judging is conducted in two rounds. Professional librarians not affiliated with SCN select the winners from finalists chosen by first round jurors.

Winners and finalists are announced via social media, on the Story Circle Network websites, and to SCN's extensive email list. Additionally:

  • Winners are invited to attend and be honored at Stories from the Heart, the biannual SCN National Conference. Winners also receive a cash prize of $100, a commemorative medallion, gold seals, and a virtual seal for their websites, as well as a free advertising package on SCN's webpages and in its eletters, and a year's membership in SCN.
  • Finalists receive silver seals, a virtual seal for their websites, and an advertising package. They will receive a special invitation to submit a presentation to the national conference.

Guidelines for 2019

Early Bird Entry (through July 31, 2019): $90. Regular Entry (through October 20, 2019): $110. (All entries include a one-year membership in the Story Circle Network).
  1. Works by women authors published in English during January 1, 2016 - December 31, 2019 in the United States and Canada are eligible.

  2. An eligible book is published
    • by the author; or
    • by a single-author press; or
    • by a university press; or
    • by a small independent press. (A "small" press publishes fewer than 100 titles a year. An "independent" press is not an imprint or division of a larger publishing company.)
    By entering, you assert that the publisher is eligible. If you need a ruling on this, please contact us before you enter. Ineligible books will not be considered and entry fees will not be refunded.

  3. The book must have an ISBN; go here to read more or obtain an ISBN.

  4. Works published as e-books only are not eligible. Collections of works by multiple authors (short memoirs, short stories, short essays) are not eligible.

  5. Memoirs by women authors written in collaboration are eligible if both authors experienced the events described in the narrative (for example, a mother/daughter collaboration about their lives together). Ghostwritten memoirs (memoirs written by or with anyone other than the person or persons who experienced the events therein) are NOT eligible.

  6. Anyone (author, publisher, publicist, SCN member, non-SCN member, other) may submit one or more eligible works. Works are eligible for submission in only one year and may not be resubmitted. A book may be entered in more than one category. To do that, complete the application form and pay the fee for each category. Only 3 physical books are required, however.

  7. The work must be submitted in its final, reader-ready form. Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) or galleys are acceptable if bound, reader-ready books are not available to meet the October 20 deadline.

  8. A work may be entered in more than one year, as long as it is eligible.

  9. The entry submission package consists of the application form, the entry fee ($90 Early Bird through July 31, 2019; $110 thereafter), and three bound, reader-ready copies of the work. Loose manuscript pages or three-ring binders are NOT acceptable and will neither be acknowledged nor returned. Do not affix seals from other competitions to the cover or include promotional material.

  10. The application must be completed, payment received, and books postmarked no later than October 20, 2019. If any part of the package is missing by this date, the submission is incomplete and ineligible for the current year's contest. However, books that are received after the deadline may be held for the following year's competition.

  11. The entry fee for an incomplete submission will not be returned. Incomplete submission packages will not be returned.

  12. If you would like to check out our rubrics (the scoring guides our jurors and judges will use to determine the winner), go here.

We subscribe to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) Contest 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."

Questions? Contact us via email: or phone: or mail:


*The eligibility dates for the 2018 Sarton cycle were mistakenly posted as 2018 only. This was corrected on June 14, 2018. Books published 2016-2019 are eligible.