1. Funding
  2. Prizes
  3. Governor General's Literary Awards
  4. Guidelines: Governor General's Literary Awards

Governor General’s Literary Awards


The Canada Council is committed to equity and inclusion, and encourages applications and nominations from individuals, groups and organizations from culturally diverse, Deaf, disability and official language minority communities. The Canada Council is committed to reaffirming and revitalizing its relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. Measures are in place in all programs to support these commitments.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards (GGBooks) are given annually to one English-language and one French-language book in each of the following 7 categories:

  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Poetry
  • Drama
  • Young People’s Literature – Text
  • Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books
  • Translation (from French to English and from English to French)

The awards are for literary and artistic merit; publishers should submit only books that they deem to be outstanding in these regards.


If these dates fall on a weekend or statutory holiday, the deadline moves to the next business day.

Publishers should nominate books as early as possible. Nominations upon release of titles are appreciated and strongly encouraged. Books and nomination forms must be received by the Canada Council by the deadline date that corresponds with the publication date. Incomplete or late nominations will not be accepted. Publishers are responsible for tracking their own shipments. The Canada Council is not responsible for delays or tracking packages.

Deadlines for book nominations

Books must be published and available on the market between 1 August 2023 and 30 June 2024. Deadlines for nominations are:

  • 15 February 2024 – for books published between 1 August 2023 and 31 January 2024
  • 15 May 2024 – for books published between 1 February 2024 and 15 May 2024
  • 15 July 2024 – for books published between 16 May 2024 and 30 June 2024

Notification and announcement of results

Finalists will be announced in the fall of 2024, and winners will be announced shortly thereafter. The winning writers, illustrators, translators and their publishers will be notified confidentially in advance of the winners' announcement.

Prize and grant amounts

  • $25,000 prize – to the eligible creator(s) of each winning book
  • $3,000 grant – to the publishing house of each winning title for the promotion of the winning book
  • $1,000 prize – to each of the non-winning finalists

Additional information

  • For the Translation category, the award is given to the translator.
  • For co-authored or co-translated books, the prize amount is split equally.
  • For the Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books category and for all graphic novels:
    • The prize amount is split equally between the author and the illustrator.
    • If there are co-authors, half of the prize amount is split equally between them. The same rule applies to co-illustrators.


The Canada Council may contact the publishing house for supplementary information to determine eligibility.

Publishing house eligibility

Only eligible publishing houses can submit titles for consideration. Publishing houses may be based in Canada or abroad. Publishing houses must:

  • publish books based on an editorial selection process
  • be committed to a sustained trade book publishing program, consisting of titles by a variety of authors. New publishers with fewer than 4 trade titles in print must attest to their commitment to the book(s) in consideration over a sustained period.
  • pay royalties or financially compensate the author, illustrator or translator for all submitted titles
  • have established a marketplace presence through distribution in Canadian bookstores and through marketing and public awareness efforts
  • have no more than 25% of its yearly publications written, illustrated or translated by its owners, family or employees
  • meet basic professional standards of publishing.

If this is the first time your publishing house is nominating a book, you must provide the following information when you submit a nomination form:

  • information that confirms your publishing house meets the criteria detailed above
  • historical background
  • a catalogue of your published titles
  • a list of Canadian distributors.

Author, translator and illustrator eligibility

The author must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada as defined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. They do not need to be living in Canada. Authors must be living on the date of book publication.

  • For the Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books category and for all graphic novels, both the author and illustrator must meet these criteria.
  • For the Translation category, the translator must meet these criteria. The author of the original work must be a Canadian citizen or have permanent resident status but does not need to be living on the date of publication.

Book eligibility

  • The main language of all books must be English or French.
  • Books must:
    • have an ISBN
    • have a print run of at least 250 copies
    • have at least 48 pages between the covers, except for children’s illustrated books which must have a minimum of 24 printed pages
    • be the first Canadian or first foreign trade edition.
  • Texts may have been previously published in magazines.
  • Adaptations may be eligible. An eligible adaptation is the new form of a literary work that is an interpretation of an existing text that has been significantly modified and transformed into an original new work.


  • Each book may be submitted to only 1 category.
  • Books written and published in both French and English may be submitted to only 1 of the 2 language categories.
  • Books in translation are only eligible in the Translation category.
  • Books originally written in a First Nations, Inuit or Métis language and later translated by the author into English or French are eligible in any category except Translation.

Category information

For each category, there is 1 English-language competition and 1 French-language competition.

  • The Young People’s Literature – Text category is for books for children or young adults with few or no illustrations.
    • This category includes books in the genres of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
    • Illustrations should occupy less than 30% of the book’s space.
  • The Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books category is for illustrated books for children or young adults.
    • This category includes picture books, graphic novels and illustrated works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
    • Books must include new text and new illustrations.
    • Original illustrations should occupy at least 30% of the book’s space.
  • Graphic novels intended for children or young adults may be submitted to the Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books category. Graphic novels intended for adults may be submitted to the appropriate category (e.g., Fiction or Non-fiction).
  • The Translation category is open to English translations of Canadian-authored French works and to French translations of Canadian-authored English works. The category includes books intended for adults and young people in all literary genres such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and plays. The literary merit of the translation is assessed.

Ineligible books

The following books are ineligible:

  • self-published books
  • books for which the author, illustrator or translator contributed financially towards the publication costs
  • books that are only available in electronic format
  • ghostwritten books
  • textbooks, academic, scholarly and other specialized publications, academic theses, pedagogical or educational books, reference books, bibliographies, directories, conference proceedings
  • guidebooks, how-to and self-help books, books that focus on self-actualization or self-improvement
  • coffee-table books, cookbooks, exhibition catalogues, film scripts, testimonials, diaries, transcripts of interviews, collected letters, trivia books, books of quotations, jokes, anecdotes or sayings, and books of minimal critical content
  • anthologies and collections of texts by more than one author (normally under the direction of an editor)
  • reprints
  • spiral bound books
  • board books for infants
  • books previously submitted to a GGBooks competition
  • books containing material from previous GGBooks finalist or winning works
  • books that do not contain new material
  • books that have been translated into English from a language other than French
  • books by the current or former Governors General.

Assessment – How are decisions made?

Peer evaluation is fundamental to the Canada Council’s decision-making process. Separate peer assessment committees are formed for each of the 7 categories. The assessment committees are composed of writers, illustrators, translators, critics and/or independent book professionals. Committee members will be selected with consideration given to fair representation of artistic specializations, Canada’s 2 official languages, Indigenous peoples, Deaf and disability communities, gender, age and the cultural and regional diversity of Canada.

All peer assessment committee decisions are final.

Assessment criteria

Each peer assessment committee must select 1 winning title and up to 4 additional books as finalists.

  • Eligible books will be assessed according to literary merit.
  • For the Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books category, both literary and artistic merit will be assessed. The committee will evaluate the text and the illustrations and how well the two components complement one another.
  • For the Translation category, the literary merit of the translation will be assessed.

Peer assessment committee members are encouraged to demonstrate an openness to fully appreciate the quality and breadth of literary choices and approaches in the submitted books. They are invited to consider the values and concerns expressed in the Canada Council’s strategic plan, Art, now more than ever, which include decolonization, equity and diversity. This is to ensure the awarded books contribute to the recognition and evolution of the Canadian arts and literary scene.

Personal information

Personal information collected in the nomination form shall be used for purposes related to the program, service or activity of the Canada Council.

The Canada Council may share personal information from applications and nominations for awards with officials in other arts and cultural industry funding agencies and government institutions on a confidential basis. Shared information is limited to your name and contact information, and is provided to assist with research, reporting, program planning and evaluation, to present networking or economic opportunities, or to respond to federal reviews. For more information on how your personal information is protected, see our Privacy Notice.

Prize terms and conditions

Once the winners and publishers have been contacted, they must agree to keep the results confidential until the Canada Council makes its official announcement. If successful, the terms and conditions will be outlined in a notification letter.

Winners, finalists and publishers of winning books cannot receive the award or grant money until all overdue final reports for Canada Council grants and prizes have been submitted and approved.

Participation in promotional activities

  • Award finalists and winners agree to allow their photographs and public information to be used for promotion of the prize and in other Canada Council promotional initiatives. They are expected to participate in activities related to the award.
  • In addition to the books submitted to the competition, publishers are required to provide the Canada Council, at no cost, with copies of finalist and winning titles for promotion and partnership purposes.

Acknowledgement of Canada Council support

Publishers of winning books must acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts in all promotional material associated with the grant. Details will be included with the notification letter.

Previous winners and finalists

Visit the GGBooks website for a list of past winners and finalists.

Required documents and books – What you need to submit

Please refer to the nomination form for detailed instructions.

  • 1 nomination form for each title
  • 4 paper copies of the book
  • For the Translation category only, 4 paper copies of the original work and 4 paper copies of the translation (8 books in total)
  • For the Fiction and Non-fiction categories only, submit:
    • 4 paper copies of the book or
    • 1 e-book in PDF format and 1 paper copy.

Nomination preparation

  • You are responsible for providing all the information and books requested.
  • The Canada Council will make eligibility decisions based on the information provided.
  • The Canada Council is not responsible for the loss or damage of material submitted.
  • Submit only the material requested. Extra material will not be shown to the peer assessment committee.
  • In addition to filling out your contact information in the nomination form, if you have an account on the Canada Council’s portal, please ensure that the information is up to date.

Nomination confirmation

  • Publishers are responsible for confirming the delivery and receipt of nominations.
  • An online list of eligible titles submitted will be updated regularly. Publishers are advised to consult this list.
  • Inquiries to confirm or contest nomination delivery will not be considered if received more than 10 business days after the final deadline date.

Instructions – How to submit a nomination

All nomination forms and books must reach the Canada Council by the deadline date that corresponds with the publication date.

Send your nomination form by email only to ggbooks@canadacouncil.ca.

  • Fill out 1 nomination form per submitted title.
  • Send each nomination form in a separate email.
  • Enter the book title and publishing house name in the subject line.
  • The total maximum file size including attachments is 25 MB.
  • If you do not receive a confirmation email within 3 business days, please contact us to make sure we received your nomination.

How to send paper books

  • by mail: Prizes, Canada Council for the Arts, P.O. Box 1047, Ottawa ON K1P 5V8
  • by courier: Prizes, Canada Council for the Arts, 150 Elgin St., 2nd Floor, Ottawa ON K2P 1L4

How to send e-books

  • Digital copies of books are only accepted in the Fiction and Non-fiction categories.
  • 1 paper copy of the book must still be sent to Canada Council by mail or courier.
  • Each digital copy of a book must be sent with the nomination form, by email to: ggbooks@canadacouncil.ca
  • We do not accept compressed files such as .zip, .rar, .7zip, htm, or .html, executable files such as .exe, .com etc., or file sharing services such as WeTransfer or Dropbox.

Contact information


1-800-263-5588 (toll-free) or 613-566-4414, ext. 4068