Annual Writing Awards

Each year ASJA recognizes distinguished achievements in articles and books with a series of awards, which are presented at the annual ASJA Writers Conference. Most are limited to the ASJA membership; two awards are open to the public: The Arlene Awards for Work that Makes a Difference and the Donald Robinson Award for Investigative Reporting (see below for both).


Awards available to ASJA Members and the Public

The following award categories are available to ASJA members and the public. Anyone -- unless otherwise noted -- may nominate.

The Arlenes: Books and Articles That Make a Difference

ASJA member Howard Eisenberg established the Arlene Eisenberg Memorial Fund in honor of his late wife, the author of What to Expect When You're Expecting and other bestselling books that made a difference in the lives of mothers worldwide. Income generated by the fund provides monetary awards to writers whose freelance article(s) and/or trade book(s) make a documented difference by inspiring action that has a positive impact on the community, society, or the world. (Examples include motivating readers to lobby for legislation or form an advocacy group, or stirring officials to launch an investigation, correct an injustice, or remove a hazard.)

The Arlene Article Award is presented annually to an article published within the prior two years. For 2015, eligible articles must have been published in 2013 or 2014.

The Arlene Book Award is typically offered every three years. It will next be offered in 2016.

Nominations are welcome from the public for any work published or released in the United States during the eligibility period. IMPORTANT NOTE: Nominations must include documentation supporting the positive impact the work has had. Such evidence may include media coverage, testimonials, or public recognition for the work and its effect. Accompanying material may be sent to the ASJA office by postal mail, email (to awards-at-asja.org), or fax -- after the online submission is complete.

Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism Article

A bequest from Donald Robinson, the third president of ASJA, established the Donald Robinson Memorial Fund. This fund generates income to provide an annual monetary award to a writer who has published an article, produced on a freelance basis, which represents exceptional achievement in the field of investigative reporting or expose. Entries eligible for the 2015 award must have been published during 2014.

Nominations are welcome from the public for any work published or released in the United States during the eligibility period.


Awards available to ASJA Members only

The following award categories are available to ASJA members only. Anyone -- unless otherwise noted -- may nominate an ASJA member. There is no limit on the number of articles or books that may be nominated, but each item may be nominated in only one category. The Awards Committee reserves the right to change categories for an item if in their judgment a different category is a better fit.

Outstanding Book Awards

These awards are conferred upon ASJA members whose nonfiction books, either alone or added to a body of work, are deemed highly significant. Solo, collaborative, and self-published full-length works may be nominated in any of four categories:

  • Children/Young Adult nonfiction
  • General Nonfiction
  • Memoir/Autobiography
  • Service/Self-help

Entries for the 2015 Book Awards must have been published in 2014.

Outstanding Article Awards

These awards honor ASJA members whose articles, produced on a freelance basis, have demonstrated excellence in eight distinct categories:

  • Business/Technology/Science article
  • First-person personal experience or dramatic narrative (compelling narrative nonfiction as well as "as-told-to" personal experiences)
  • Lifestyle article (narrative nonfiction on a lifestyle-oriented subject such as travel, food & wine, culture, art, music, leisure pursuits)
  • Personal essay, opinion, or op-ed; may include blog posts published by third parties (personal essay and opinion/op-ed pieces will be judged separately; two winners may be chosen)
  • Profiles
  • Reporting on a significant topic (for example, narrative or literary journalism dealing with a topic such as a medical breakthrough, new legislation, racial intolerance, environmental concerns, business/finance, etc., for consumer publications)
  • Service article (for example, advice, self-help, guidance, how-to)
  • Trade article (written for a specialized industry publication intended for a specialized or professional audience)

June Roth Memorial Awards for Outstanding Medical Book and Article (ASJA Members only)

The generosity of the late Fred Roth established the June Roth Memorial Fund to honor his wife, the 31st president of the Society, who died in 1990. Income generated by the fund provides monetary awards to ASJA members whose freelance articles and trade books represent exceptional achievement in the field of health and medical writing.

The June Roth Article Award is offered every year. For 2015, eligible articles must have been published in 2014.

The June Roth Book Award is typically presented every three years. It will next be offered in 2016.

Other Awards

Founders Award for Career Achievement

The Founders Award for Career Achievement may be presented to any ASJA member whose ability to tell a story and whose style, range and diversity of career exemplify the profession of independent nonfiction writer. Members may nominate a fellow member by writing an essay explaining why this individual deserves the award (no self-nominations accepted).

ASJA Extraordinary Service Award

The Extraordinary Service Award may be presented annually to any ASJA member whose pattern of providing service, assistance, information and encouragement to other members - or to the entire membership or profession - exemplifies the society's role as a supportive organization. Members may nominate a fellow member by writing an essay explaining why this individual deserves the award (no self-nominations accepted).

Robert C. Anderson Memorial Award

This award, first presented in 1992, honors an individual magazine editor, book editor, other purchaser of writers work, teacher, or mentor who has the unusual qualities of character possessed by our late colleague Bob Anderson. This award is for a person who goes far beyond the norm to support and encourage writers in their work, displaying outstanding humaneness, compassion and generosity. The individual need not be a member of the Society, but only ASJA members may make nominations (no self-nominations accepted).