Sponsored by CODE and made possible by the generosity of William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation, the Burt Award addresses an ongoing shortage of relevant, quality books for young people while promoting a love of reading and learning at the upper primary and secondary school levels. Launched in Tanzania in 2008, it has since expanded to Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Canada and the Caribbean.
CODE’s Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature is an English-language, multi-country prize, supported by smaller national prizes that determine the works eligible for the grand prize. The national prizes include CODE’s Burt Award for Ethiopian Young Adult Literature; CODE’s Burt Award for Ghanaian Young Adult Literature; CODE’s Burt Award for Kenyan Young Adult Literature; and CODE’s Burt Award for Tanzanian Young Adult Literature.
The objective of the award is to provide African youth with access to engaging, high quality, culturally relevant reading materials.
Specific objectives of the program are:
- to recognize excellence in young adult literature
- to support and motivate the development of reading materials for students aged 12
- through 18, a critical stage of learning
- to foster a love of reading and learning
- to strengthen the English-language skills of youth
- to support local publishing industries
- to increase the stock of English books in schools and libraries
Eligible publishers submit entries to CODE’s local implementing partners in each participating country: CODE-Ethiopia; Ghana Book Trust; National Book Development Council of Kenya; and Children’s Book Project for Tanzania.
Each local jury selects a shortlist of up to five titles, with one declared the national winner.
The winning creator(s) will receive a prize of $1,000 CAD. The publisher of the winning title will be awarded a guaranteed purchase of 3,000 copies by CODE, to be donated to schools, libraries, community centres, and NGOs in its country of origin.
All finalists shortlisted for each national competition will be eligible to move forward to the grand prize. In total, up to 20 finalists from each country may be considered for the grand prize, based on a shortlist of up to five titles from each of the four participating countries.
Only finalists for the national competitions are eligible for the grand prize.
The grand prize jury will select a shortlist of up to five finalists. One title will be named the grand prize winner, its creator(s) to receive a prize of $10,000 CAD. A second title will be named an honour book, its creator(s) to receive a prize of $2,000 CAD. The remaining finalists will each receive $1,000 CAD.
CODE will purchase 3,000 copies each of the grand prize winner and honour book for each of the four participating countries, up to 12,000 copies per title. These will be donated to schools, libraries, community centres, and NGOs.
Additionally, the publishers of the grand prize winner and grand prize honour book will each receive a grant of $2,000 CAD to support the promotion of their Burt Award titles.
Eligibility of publishers
Only eligible book publishers operating in one of the participating countries can submit titles for consideration. To gain eligibility for works published outside of the participating countries, rights may be licensed to an eligible publisher.
- publish books based on an editorial selection process
- be committed to a sustained trade book publishing program
- pay royalties or financially compensate the writer, translator (if applicable), and illustrator (if applicable) for any submission that is published
- support the writer, translator (if applicable), and illustrator (if applicable) in the development of the work
- use appropriate and effective means to market, distribute and sell their titles
- meet basic professional standards of publishing
- agree to the general terms and conditions of the guaranteed purchase agreement with CODE.
Eligibility of writers, illustrators & translators
Writers, illustrators, and translators who are citizens of the participating countries, whether by birth or naturalization, are eligible. These will include citizens who live outside of their countries of origin.
- The award is open to English-language young adult novels, short story collections by a single author, nonfiction (with some restrictions), and graphic novels.
- For this award, the term “young adult” generally refers to readers from ages 12 through 18.
- Publishers should consider whether a work is written at an appropriate reading and maturity level and is emotionally and culturally relevant to African young adults before submitting it to the award.
- Works translated by an eligible translator from any language into English are eligible. The jury will assess only the English text. The prize for a translated work will be shared equally between the writer and the translator.
- Co-authored works by no more than two eligible writers will be accepted in every category.
- The prize for a co-authored work will be shared equally between the writers.
- Graphic novels must be fully illustrated at the time of submission to the national competitions to be eligible. Artwork for titles named as national finalists may be improved before submission to the grand prize, but new art cannot be added.
- The graphic novel may be co-illustrated by no more than two illustrators. Fifty percent (50%) of the prize for a graphic novel will be awarded to the writer(s) and fifty percent will be awarded to illustrator(s).
- Illustrated non-fiction (defined for this award as a work that is comprised of at least 40% art) may be submitted with or without illustrations at the publisher’s discretion. If illustrations are included, they must be complete at the time of submission to the national competitions.
- Artwork for titles named as national finalists may be improved before submission to the grand prize, but new art cannot be added. Please note: if the work is submitted without illustrations, it may not be resubmitted with illustrations to the award in future years.
- Illustrated nonfiction may be co-illustrated by no more than two illustrators. Fifty percent (50%) of the prize for an illustrated nonfiction will be awarded to the writer(s) and fifty percent will be awarded to illustrator(s). If the work is submitted without illustrations, only the writer(s) will receive the prize.
- Selections from works, such as a short story from a collection, previously published in magazines, newspapers, journals or web sites are eligible.
- Revised editions are eligible only if the majority of the work is deemed new, excluding a foreword written by the writer or editor.
- Adaptations of works from other literary genres, such as the adaption of a play into a novel, are eligible if the text has been modified sufficiently to transform it into an original new work.
- Sequels to published books, including sequels to Burt Award-winning books, and series books are eligible. Do not submit related volumes.
- No more than two submissions by an author, illustrator, or translator will be considered in a given year.
- No more than three submissions per publisher will be accepted.
Eligibility of books
- Only first editions published within 12 months prior to the deadline for submissions will be eligible.
- Books must have an ISBN, be distributed in at least one of the participating countries, and be available through bookstores.
- Books may be submitted as advance reading copies or bound proofs. Proofs must be edited and in their final version; however, the final book jacket is not required.
- The minimum length for novels, short story collections, and nonfiction is 22,500 words or 90 pages, with the exception of hi-lo works (high interest-low reading level), which must have a minimum of 14,000 words. Publishers must provide the reading score for hi-lo works.
- Illustrated nonfiction (where illustrations comprise at least 40% of the work) and graphic novels must have a page count of at least 80 pages.
Eligibility of unpublished manuscripts
Manuscripts must be written in a 12-point, Times New Roman font, be double spaced, and have standard margins. Manuscripts must be bound. No loose or stapled sheets will be accepted.
Publishers must have negotiated and signed a contract with the creator(s) prior to beginning any editing or production work on the manuscript.
Manuscripts will be assessed alongside published books and must be edited prior to submission. Please only submit works of high quality.
The minimum length for novels, short story collections, and nonfiction is 22,500 words, with the exception of hi-lo works (high interest-low reading level), which must have a minimum of 14,000 words. Publishers must provide the reading score for hi-lo works.
Illustrated nonfiction and graphic novels must have an estimated published page count of at least 80 pages.
Authors, illustrators, translators and publishers of unpublished national finalists are strongly encouraged to continue improving their work before submitting it to the grand prize. To support these efforts, publishers will have a two-year window in which to submit eligible works to the grand prize. In other words, if additional time is needed for manuscript or art development, the publisher may choose not to submit to the next grand prize competition and instead wait until the following year.
Eligibility of published books in translation
Books originally published in languages other than English can be made eligible through translation into English. The publication date of the book in its original language may be up to three years prior to the submission deadline (May 15, 2014 and May 15, 2017 for the 2017 competition).
The translation may be submitted as a published book or a manuscript following the appropriate guidelines above.
- Plagiarized works.
- Manuscripts that have been previously submitted to a Burt Award competition, including former iterations of the award.
- Selections containing material from a work that has previously been a winner or finalist for the Burt Award.
- Works (whether fiction or non-fiction) promoting stereotypes based on culture, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.
- Self-published books.
- Works of poetry, anthologies, or non-literary biographies.
- Textbooks or instruction guides, academic and scholarly publications, academic theses, conference proceedings, illustrated (coffee-table) books, how-to and self-help books, guidebooks, cookbooks, exhibition catalogues, transcripts of interviews, directories, reference books or bibliographies.
- Publications in alternate media such as CD-ROMs, multi-media publishing, internet-based works, kits, brochures, etc.
The first step towards the grand prize is submitting an eligible work to a national competition. National Prizes In Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania, only publishers can make submissions.
In Ethiopia, publishers can submit published books or manuscripts. Ethiopian authors can submit manuscripts if the work has not been licensed by a publisher. If the work is under contract with a publisher, the submission must be made by the publisher. Authors cannot submit published books.
Fill out a separate nomination form for each eligible work and send the completed form along with four hard copy published books or four bound manuscripts plus one digital copy of the manuscript (pdf or Word doc) to the local implementing partner (addresses on page 9). For published books, a digital copy would be appreciated but is not required.
Only one nomination form is needed per submission.
Publishers (or, in Ethiopia only, authors) are responsible for providing complete information on each nomination form and all the support material requested.
Late and/or incomplete submissions, including missing nomination forms, will not be accepted.
Submit only the material requested. Extra material will not be shared with juries.
Please do not submit originals. CODE and its implementing partners are not responsible for the loss or damage of material submitted and will not return materials to publishers.
Submissions Deadline: March 15, 2018
Only finalists for the national prizes are eligible for the grand prize.
Only publishers can make submissions, with the exception of Ethiopian entries that do not yet have a publisher, which will be submitted to the grand prize by CODE-Ethiopia.
Publishers have a two-year window in which to submit a national finalist to the grand prize.
For example, if a title is named a national finalist in 2017, it may be submitted to the grand prize in 2018 (deadline March 15, 2018) or in 2019 (deadline in early 2019).
Publishers should include a copy of the original nomination form for reference. For published books, six copies must be submitted. For manuscripts, only one electronic copy will be required (pdf or Word doc).
If a book was submitted as advanced reading copies or bound proofs to the national competition and subsequently published before the deadline for the grand prize, publishers are requested to send finished books.
All hard copy submissions must arrive at Ghana Book Trust (GBT) by the deadline. See page 9
for GBT’s physical and mailing addresses.
All electronic manuscripts must be sent to the following address by the deadline: email@example.com
Juries assess eligible works according to literary and artistic excellence and their capacity to inform, engage, and entertain African youth.
- In the case of published books, juries will focus on the quality of the writing, illustration, and translation of the work.
- The juries’ decisions are final.
- The national prize juries will be comprised of three jurors appointed by CODE’s local implementing partners in accordance with criteria set by CODE.
- The grand prize jury will be comprised of five members appointed by CODE’s managing partner in consultation with CODE and its other local implementing partners. The jury will include one member from each participating country plus one member from a non-participating country, such as (but not limited to) Canada or a non-participating African country.
- National shortlists and winners will be announced in fall of 2017.
- The grand prize shortlists will be announced in July 2018 and the winner and honour book will be announced at a gala celebration in the fall of 2018.
Unpublished works awarded a guaranteed purchase are anticipated to be published approximately one year after the announcement of the grand prize.
CODE will purchase copies of each national winner, the grand prize winner, and grand prize honour book at a discount from the retail price in its local market. CODE and its local implementing partners will negotiate in good faith with each publisher to arrive at a fair discount.
To be eligible for the Burt Award and CODE’s guaranteed purchase, publishers must commit to actively promoting and selling copies beyond the guaranteed purchase in the general trade and institutional markets.
CODE will only purchase books from publishers with a demonstrated capacity to distribute, promote, and sell books within each participating country. If a publisher lacks this capacity in any of the countries in which the Burt Award program operates, it is CODE’s hope and expectation that it will sublicense publishing rights to a local publisher from whom CODE will purchase the books.
Publishers will be provided with guidelines regarding quality standards and other publishing specifications, such as appropriate acknowledgment of the award and CODE’s support.
Previously published books may need to be improved and reprinted if they fail to meet minimum standards.
If the grand prize winner or honour book also won its national competition, CODE will not make a second purchase of the work for its country of origin, only for the other participating countries.
CODE has partnered with African Books Collective (ABC) to facilitate the conversion of Burt Award books from print to digital editions. These titles are made available for sale worldwide on ABC’s web site (on a non-exclusive basis), where a catalogue of Burt Award winners is maintained.
CODE will cover the cost of converting the winners of the national prizes, as well as the grand prize winner and grand prize honour book.
Learn more about ABC at: www.africanbookscollective.com.
Additional terms & conditions
- Publishers must notify the creators of titles entered for the award.
- National finalists will be invited to attend a local reception or press conference where the winner will be announced.
- Grand prize finalists will be invited to attend an award ceremony where the winner and honour book will be announced and to participate in adjunct activities, such as public readings and promotion.
- Authors, illustrators, translators, and publishers of winning books are expected to participate in award-related events when possible, including the prize presentation, receptions, media interviews and press conferences.
- Publishers of shortlisted titles are requested to provide digital photos of authors, illustrators and translators, who must allow photographs and public information about themselves to be used for CODE’s promotional initiatives.
- Publishers of winning titles are requested to provide to CODE, at no cost, ten copies of winning books for promotion and sponsorship purposes.
- The support of CODE should be clearly acknowledged in any public announcements, advertising or publications related to books that receive an award.
- Implementing Submissions to national prizes should be submitted to the implementing partner in the publisher’s home country.
P.O. Box 9443, Arat Kilo Square, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
+251 111 266 563 / +251 0919 -34-38-49 / +2510913-00-39-51
Ghana: Ghana Book Trust
No. 16 IPS Road, Legon, Accra, Ghana
P.O. Box LG536, Legon, Accra, Ghana
+233 302 502 495 / +233 244 383 724
Kenya: National Book Development Council of Kenya
Golf Course Phase 1, Ngobit Estate, House No. 116B, Nairobi, Kenya
P.O. Box 10904-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
+254 770 108556
Tanzania: Children’s Book Project for Tanzania
Kijitonyama Area, Plot No. 271, Block 44, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
+ 255 222 773 392
Will the shortlists always contain five titles?
Neither the grand prize jury nor the national competition juries are obliged to name five titles to the shortlist. They may name up to five finalists that they feel are worthy of inclusion.
Could one country dominate the grand prize shortlist? Or be left out of it?
There is no predicting who will be named to the grand prize shortlist and who will not from one year to the next. The grand prize jury will include one member from each participating country and one member from a non-participating country to ensure fairness.
Why are all the national finalists allowed to move on to the grand prize?
Each year, books compete against one another for multiple literary prizes around the world, and different juries often come to different conclusions about what they consider “the best.” Since all the national finalists will be good books that are worthy of recognition, we are glad to offer their creators the opportunity to move on to the grand prize. As well, the creators will have an opportunity to improve their work before submitting it to the grand prize jury—perhaps their efforts will improve their chances the next time around!
Should I make my book more “international” or “Pan-African” to improve my chances of winning?
The jury will evaluate submissions based on their literary and (if applicable) artistic qualities, not presumptions about how well a book will “travel.” We encourage writers, illustrators, and translators to focus on creating their very best work, whether it’s a biography of a local hero or a fantasy set on the moon.
The stronger and truer the writing and illustration, the more it will speak to readers across the continent and around the world. The Irish writer James Joyce may have put it best: “For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.”
Why are citizens living abroad allowed to submit to the competition?
CODE recognizes that some writers, illustrators, and translators who move abroad may gain more training and publishing opportunities—and many will not. While the Burt Award supports local book creators in a variety of ways, it also provides citizens of the participating countries who are living abroad with the chance to submit works that may be relevant to, and welcomed by, youth in their country of origin.
When will the winning books be published?
The grand prize winner, grand prize honour book, and national winners are anticipated to be published approximately one year after the grand prize award ceremony.
Will you publish my book?
CODE is not a publisher; rather, it is a non-profit organization that supports the development of books through its various programs. You can learn more about your local book industry and publishers who may be interested in your work by contacting your local implementing partner (see page 9).
Who is William (Bill) Burt?
William “Bill” Burt is a Canadian investor and former commodities broker who decided he wanted to support the cause of literacy in Africa during a CODE-sponsored trip to Ethiopia in 2007. In August 2009, Bill, along with his wife, Judy, and two other family members, travelled to Tanzania to hand out the first prizes for the Burt Award for African Literature.
Please complete and return this form along with the required copies of each manuscript or published book to your local implementing partner by May 15, 2017 (addresses on page 9). No submissions will be accepted after the deadline.
☐ CODE’s Burt Award for Ethiopian Young Adult Literature ☐ CODE’s Burt Award for Ghanaian Young Adult Literature
☐ CODE’s Burt Award for Kenyan Young Adult Literature ☐ CODE’s Burt Award for Tanzanian Young Adult Literature SUBMISSION INFORMATION
Submission type (select one): ☐ Manuscript ☐ Published book
If published: Publication date(month/year): _____________________________________________ ISBN:__________________________________________
Complete the following whether a manuscript or published submission
Category (select all applicable):
☐ Fiction ☐ Nonfiction ☐ Illustrated Nonfiction ☐ Graphic novel ☐ Short story collection Target age group (select one): ☐ 12–15 years ☐ 16–18 years
Telephone 1:_____________________________________________________Telephone 2:______________________________________________________________
Author is citizen of which country(ies) _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Name: Official ________________________________________________________ Pen (if applicable)____________________________________________________
Telephone 1:__________________________________________________________Telephone 2:__________________________________________________________
ILLUSTRATOR/TRANSLATOR INFORMATION (IF APPLICABLE)
Illustrator/Translator is a citizen of which country(ies) ___________________________________________________________________________________
Name: Official ________________________________________________________ Pen (if applicable)____________________________________________________
Telephone 1:__________________________________________________________Telephone 2:___________________________________________________________
NOTES (If the final work will include artwork or other features of note that are not included with the submission, please provide details): ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
DECLARATION: I have carefully read the guidelines, confirm that this submission meets the eligibility criteria, and accept the conditions of the award. I confirm that the information contained in this form is complete and accurate.
Name:______________________________________________ Signature (original only):________________________________