The Vermont Book Award is entering its fourth year and the prestigious honor for work of outstanding literary merit by Vermont authors has a new twist in 2018.
In the past, the nominations have been made by a committee of independent booksellers and publishers. But for the first time, this year's nominations can be submitted by the public.
"We've always seen the prize as a celebration of the literature of Vermont and part of that celebration involves the readers of Vermont. And we know that that readers have valuable opinions about the work that needs to be recognized. So we wanted to invite them into the process from the beginning," said Miciah Gault, coordinator of the Vermont Book award.
Gault is editor of the journal Hunger Mountain, program director for the MFA in writing and publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and an author.
To be eligible for this year's Vermont Book Award, books need to be published in 2017. It needs to be written by a Vermont author and published by a press. There are four nominating categories: fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry or children's literature. The nominating form is on the Vermont College of Fine Arts website and will be open for the next two weeks.
The nominees are then judged by a panel of eight writers, readers, professors, teachers, librarians, and booksellers. Finalists are announced in each of the four categories. The winner gets a $5,000 cash prize and an award designed each year by an artist. There will be a gala and award ceremony on Sept. 22 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Last year's winner was Johnson State College professor Jensen Beach for his short story collection Swallowed by the Cold.
Disclosure: Mitch Wertlieb was a Vermont Book Award judge in 2015.