The PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship of $5,000 is offered annually to an author of children’s or young-adult fiction. It has been developed to help writers whose work is of high literary caliber and is designed to assist a writer at a crucial moment in his or her career to complete a book-length work-in-progress.

The Fellowship is made possible by a substantial contribution from PEN Member Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, the prolific author of more than 140 books, including Now I’ll Tell You Everything, the 28th and final book in the acclaimed “Alice” series, as well as Faith, Hope, and Ivy June and Shiloh, the first novel in a trilogy, which won the 1992 Newbery Medal.

On establishing the Fellowship Mrs. Naylor said: “We truly work ‘blind,’ with no assurance whatsoever that anyone will be interested in our final product. It takes enormous stamina and resolve and optimism to live with our characters for a year or more—and it’s my hope that the Working Writer’s Fellowship, modest as it is, will let the author know that an expert panel of PEN judges has faith in the writer, admires his work, and trusts that he will be able to bring to paper what he sees in his head.”

Past winners: Graham McNamee, Lori Aurelia Williams, Franny Billingsley, Deborah Wiles, Amanda Jenkins, Barbara Shoup, Diane Les Becquets, Theresa Nelson, Carol Lynch Williams, Pat Schmatz, Lucy Frank, Sarah Dooley, Amy Goldman Koss, Linda Oatman High and Stephanie Kuehn.

Eligibility and Nominations for the 2016 Awards

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Submit by September 28, 2015

Who Is Eligible

  • A candidate is a writer of children’s or young adult fiction in financial need.
  • Candidates must have published one or more novels for children or young adults that have been warmly received by literary critics, but have not generated sufficient income to support the author.
  • The writer’s book(s) must be published by a U.S. publisher (not self-published).
  • Judges will be looking for candidates whose work has not yet attracted a broad readership.

How to Apply or Nominate:
Writers may nominate themselves or a fellow writer. This Fellowship will be judged blindly – the administrators will be aware of the nominees’ names, but the judges will not. Applicants should provide the following documents in their application:

1) A letter describing in some detail how they meet the criteria for the Fellowship, including a list of their published novel(s) for children or young adults.
2) Copies of at least three reviews of their novel(s) from professional publications.
3) A letter of recommendation from an editor or fellow writer.
4) Three copies of the outline of the current novel in progress
5) Three copies of 50–75 pages of the text. Picture books are not eligible. The writers’ name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript, in order to ensure anonymity for the judging process.
6) On a separate piece of paper, a brief description of the candidate’s recent earnings and a statement about why monetary support will make a particular difference in the applicant’s writing life at this time. If the candidate is married or living with a domestic partner, please include a brief description of total family income and expense.

Send applications between June 1, 2015 and August 15, 2015 to:

PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship
PEN American Center
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012

Please direct any questions to

Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,