It’s ASJA Awards Season: Let Your Best Work Shine

Maureen Salamon

With the Oscars, Grammys, and Golden Globes behind us, you might think awards season is over. But now it’s time to turn our attention to accolades that recognize the very best of what we do—the ASJA Awards.

Tomorrow marks the opening of 2024 awards submissions, meaning it’s time to decide which articles, essays, books, or content marketing pieces you created in 2023 make your heart sing and submit them for consideration.

Entries will be accepted through May 15, and judges will consider those entries in the spring and summer. ASJA expects to announce the winners in August.

Speaking of judges, we need more ASJAers to step up! We all love to read anyway, so this is a fun volunteer gig. What could be better than reading fellow freelance writers’ finest work in a variety of categories and helping decide whose deserves special distinction?

Read on for key details about awards categories, how to enter, and how to join the judges’ squad.

Awards Categories

Winning an ASJA award comes with definite perks—first and foremost, the great respect of your freelance peers. Some awards categories also offer cash prizes. Categories include:

The Arlenes: Articles and Books That Make a Difference. ASJA member Howard Eisenberg established the Arlene Eisenberg Memorial Fund to honor 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. The fund allows ASJA to give a monetary award to winners of the Arlenes, which are granted annually for articles and once every two or three years for books. Winning books or articles must have “made a difference by inspiring positive action within a locale or community, society, or the world. For 2024, the Arlene Article Award prize amount is $1,000. The next Arlene Book Award will be given in 2026 for books written in 2023, 2024, and 2025.

Howard Eisenberg discusses the award named after his late wife and ASJA member Arlene Eisenberg, at the 20025 conference.

The Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism. This award honors ASJA’s third president, a noted investigative journalist, and is presented each year. Submitted works should include in-depth, original research and reporting, and demonstrate outstanding writing and organization, as well as new or previously unrevealed research. Or, if the topic frequently gets attention, the article should show it in a new light. As with all ASJA awards, staff-written work does not qualify. For 2024, the Donald Robinson Memorial Award prize amount is $1,000.  

Outstanding Article Awards. These awards spotlight freelance-produced articles that exhibit excellence in writing, research, and clarity of presentation. Categories include Blog Posts; Business; Excellence in Reporting; First-Person Essays; Fitness & Sports; Food & Drink; Health; How-To; Lifestyle; Opinion/Op-Eds; Reported Essays; Science; Social Change; Technology; Trade; and Travel.

Outstanding Book Awards. Book awards recognize nonfiction books by independent writers that are deemed significant, exceptionally well-researched, and skillfully written. Entries may be written by an individual author or by collaborators. Self-published books, e-books, and traditionally published books may be nominated. Categories include Biography/History; Children/Young Adult Nonfiction; General Nonfiction; Memoir/Autobiography; and Service/Self-Help.

Outstanding Content Awards. These awards honor writers whose freelance articles—produced for a brand, business, nonprofit, hospital, university, or association—display excellence in writing, research, and clarity of presentation. Categories include B2B Blog or Article; B2C Blog or Article; and Long-Form Content.

Certain ASJA awards are open to members only. These include:

June Roth Memorial Awards for Outstanding Medical Article and Outstanding Medical Book. The June Roth Memorial Fund was established by her late husband to honor our 31st president, a well-known medical writer. The award recognizes articles or books that represent exceptional achievement in health and medical writing. The June Roth Article Award is offered every year. For 2024, the award prize amount is $1,000. The next June Roth Book Award will be given in 2025 for books published in 2023 and 2024.

Other ASJA Member Awards. From time to time, an ASJA member offers exemplary service to the organization, reaches a notable career achievement, or demonstrates special contributions to the media industry. In these moments, ASJA members and leaders can nominate such members for special awards. Categories include the ASJA Founders Award for Career Achievement; ASJA Extraordinary Service Award; Robert C. Anderson Award; Conscience in Media Award; and Open Book Award.

Who Can Enter?

Some ASJA awards are offered only to members, but others are open to all freelance writers regardless of membership. You can nominate another writer’s work or your own. Writers may enter up to 10 entries, though each work may be entered in only one category.

The fee structure for entering is broken down by membership:

  • For ASJA members. Articles are $25 for the first entry, $20 for the second, $15 for the third and fourth, and $10 for each additional entry. Entry fees for books are $50 each.
  • For non-members. Articles are $50 for the first entry, $40 for the second, $35 for the third and fourth, and $25 for each additional entry. Entry fees for books are $75 each.

How Can You Enter?

It’s easy to nominate your work or that of another writer. ASJA uses the third-party Submittable platform to manage ASJA Awards entries. To submit an entry, you must have a free Submittable account. Awards entries can be paid for only by credit card; checks, electronic bank payments, or other payment types are not accepted.

How Can You Become a Judge?

There’s no downside to being a judge! Members who volunteer to judges can still enter the awards contest, although they are barred from judging categories for which they have entered their own works. When you sign up to volunteer, indicate which categories you prefer to judge. Although there are no guarantees, the awards committee will attempt to match you with your preferred categories. To sign up to be a judge, click here.

That’s a wrap! For more comprehensive information about the 2024 Awards, see the ASJA Awards page on the website.  

Next stop: Our own virtual red carpet, where we expect to announce this year’s winners in August. And don’t be shy about entering—as the oft-used expression goes, you’ve got to be in it to win it.

Maureen Salamon is a health writer and ASJA member based in northern New Jersey. She is a member of the 2024 ASJA Awards committee.