Nominations and Criteria

High Plains Book Awards 2024 Award Criteria

The High Plains Books Awards recognize regional authors and/or literary works which examine and reflect life on the High Plains. The High Plains region includes Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.



Nominations were accepted in the following categories in 2024:

  • The Art & Photography Award recognizes the best book depicting art and/or photography by or about one artist or a collection of artists;
  • The Children’s Picture Book Award honors an illustrated book for young readers;
  • The Children’s Middle Grade Book Award honors books written for readers younger than 12 years of age;
  • The Fiction Award recognizes longer works of fiction in novel or novella form;
  • The First Book Award honors a writer’s first published book;
  • The Indigenous Writer Award honors the best book by an indigenous writer in any category;
  • The Nonfiction Award recognizes scholarly, research-based expository writing based on real events and real people (if a book does not have footnotes/endnotes/bibliography, it does not belong in this category);
  • The Memoir/Creative Nonfiction Award recognizes books that present factual information on people, places or events using experiential techniques often associated with fiction, such as personal observation, narrative forms, and dramatic renderings of events;
  • The Poetry Award recognizes a collection of poetry by one author; no included poems should be from previously published books by the author (eg, no “new and selected”);
  • The Short Stories Award recognizes a collection of short fiction by a single author;
  • The Woman Writer Award honors the best book by a woman writer in any category;
  • The Young Adult Award honors books written for readers between 12 and 18 years of age
  • The Big Sky Award honors books written by authors that are permanent, full-time residents of Montana. Books nominated for the Big Sky award must also be nominated in at least one other category.

Winners for all Book Awards will be announced at an Awards event held in October in Billings, Montana. Each Book Award winner will receive a $500 award. The High Plains Book Award Board (the Board) reserves the right to determine there is no winning entry in a given category.


  • Nominated books must have been published for the first time in 2023. (For books published in multiple countries, the publication date requirement applies to the US version.) This is determined by the copyright date listed in the published work.
  • All entries must have an ISBN.
  • Nominated books must be written by an author or writing team currently living in the designated High Plains region or must be a literary work which examines and reflects life within that region.
  • Revised editions or new translations of previously published works are not eligible.
  • Books only published in digital form are not eligible.
  • Books must be provided in a print format.
  • Books nominated in the Poetry category must be at least 48 pages or longer.
  • Books nominated for the Big Sky Award must also be nominated in at least one other category. Nominators must supply one (1) additional reader copy.
  • A book may be nominated in Nonfiction OR Creative Nonfiction, but not both categories simultaneously. Otherwise, books may be nominated in more than one Award category. For example, a work of fiction may also be the writer’s first book. Additional nomination fees and four (4) additional reader copies are required for each additional category in which a book is nominated. If the book is nominated for the Big Sky Award, only one additional copy is required, although the nomination fee must still be paid.
  • Authors of nominated books must be living at the time of nomination.
  • The Board will review books for compliance with eligibility requirements. Board decisions regarding eligibility are final.


Book Award Nomination Process, Deadline and Fees:

  1. Each Book Award nomination must include a completed nomination form. Nominations for a single work in multiple categories may be submitted on the same form.
  2. Nomination for a Book Award must be accompanied by a $75 fee and four (4) reader copies of the nominated work. Each additional nomination for a work in another category requires another $75 fee and an additional four (4) reader copies. For the Big Sky Award only one (1) additional reader copy must be supplied together with the fee. Payments must be made in US currency.
  3. Nomination fee payments may be made on the website or by check. Checks should be made payable to High Plains Book Awards. W-9 forms are available upon request. Reader copies should be shipped to: Julie Schultz, High Plains Book Awards, Billings Public Library, 510 N 28th St, Billings, MT 59101.
  4. Nomination forms, fees, and accompanying reader copies must be received at Billings Public Library by Friday, March 8, 2024 at 5:00 pm Mountain Standard Time. NO EXCEPTIONS WILL BE MADE. Items postmarked by that date, but not yet received, will not be eligible. Failure to meet the deadline will disqualify a nomination from consideration. It may be desirable for nominators to use express shipping to ensure timely delivery, especially for shipments that involve crossing international borders.
  5. Nominators will receive an automatic confirmation of receipt of payments and nomination forms. Confirmation of receipt of reader copies is available upon request.
  6. All reader copies of books submitted for nomination to the High Plains Book Awards become the property of the Board.

The High Plains Book Awards Board selects readers to evaluate all nominations and it identifies finalist books based upon reader evaluations. The Board selects judges to determine the winning entry in each category. The Board resolves any issues that may arise in the nomination, evaluation, finalist selection and judging process. All decisions of the Board are final. Winners for all Book Awards will be announced at an Awards event held in October 2024 in Billings, Montana. Each Book Award winner will receive a $500 award.

If you would like to be added to our email list to receive information about finalists and other news related to the Awards, please use the contact link to sign up. You will receive approximately 5 emails annually, and your contact information will not be shared.

Thanks for your interest in the High Plains Book Awards!

Questions? Please contact us through our contact page.