Skip to Main Content

Eighth Annual Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Now Open For Submissions

January 11, 2022

Award showcases Canadian debut authors, with the chance to win $10,000 CAD per category, plus marketing support for the three winning books

Toronto, ON - January 11, 2022 – Rakuten Kobo, the global eBook and audiobook retailer, today announced it is accepting submissions for its eighth annual Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. With the Emerging Writer Prize, Kobo endeavors to raise the profiles of debut authors by recognizing exceptional books written by first-time Canadian authors in three categories: Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction (this year Romance; a different genre is showcased each year), and Non-Fiction.

The winning authors will be announced in June 2022 and awarded a $10,000 CAD cash prize, in addition to marketing and communications support throughout the remainder of 2022.

Now in its eighth year, last year’s Emerging Writer Prize winners include:

Michelle Good for her literary fiction debut novel, Five Little Indians, which follows through the years five children who were taken from their families and sent to a remote, church-run residential school; Eternity Martis for Nonfiction for her powerful debut memoir about what it's like to be a student of colour on a predominantly white campus, They Said This Would Be Fun; and Emily Hepditch for her claustrophobic mystery, The Woman in the Attic, that will put you on the edge of your seat… and make you wary of the unused spaces collecting dust in your home.

Each year, the winning titles are selected by three prominent authors. The 2022 prize judges are: Nana Malone, who will judge the Romance category; Katherine Ashenburg, who will judge the Non-Fiction category; and Heather O’Neill, who will judge this year’s Literary Fiction category.

Submissions are now open and will be accepted here until February 22, 2022 for debut books in the categories of Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction (Romance) and Non-Fiction, published in 2021 by Canadian citizens and/or permanent residents of Canada. All submitted books must be available at

Submissions can be made by publishers or directly by authors. Traditionally published and self-published books are eligible.

Nomination process and official rules: Publishers and authors (traditionally published and self-published) can now submit debut books published in 2021 via the submission form.

Selection: The author judges will select winners from a shortlist created by Kobo booksellers, based on a combination of literary merit and reader engagement—completion rates, ratings and reviews may be considered.

Rules and Regulations here.

About the Judges

Heather O’Neill, Literary Fiction

Heather O’Neill is a novelist, short-story writer and essayist. Her most recent bestselling novel, The Lonely Hearts Hotel, won the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and CBC’s Canada Reads. Her previous work, which includes Lullabies for Little Criminals, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Daydreams of Angels, has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize two years in a row. She has won CBC’s Canada Reads, and the Danuta Gleed Award. Born and raised in Montreal, O’Neill lives there with her daughter.

Katherine Ashenburg, Non-Fiction

Katherine Ashenburg is the prize-winning author of two novels, four non-fiction books and hundreds of articles on subjects that range from travel to mourning customs to architecture. Her first book, Going to Town: Architectural Walking Tours in Southern Ontario, won the Ontario Historical Society’s award for best regional history. Her second book, The Mourner’s Dance: What We Do When People Die, was a finalist for two important prizes. Her third book, The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History, is a spirited chronicle of the West’s ambivalent relationship with the washed and unwashed body, which has been published in a dozen countries and in six languages. The Independent newspaper found it one of the best history books in its year of publication, and the New York Public Library called it one of 25 Books to Remember. In Katherine’s newest book, "Her Turn," Liz finds her tidy life overturned when the woman now married to her ex-husband submits a personal essay to the newspaper column Liz edits; Elizabeth Renzetti writes of it, “It is infused with the joyful spirit of Nora Ephron and lit with a charm all its own.”

Nana Malone, Genre Fiction (Romance)

Nana’s love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense she borrowed from her cousin on a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana at a precocious thirteen. She’s been in love with kick butt heroines ever since. Her books include Kobo Original The Spy in 3B, an action-packed, sexy romp for anyone who ever wondered what really happens behind closed doors; The Assassin in 5F, the sexy, gripping conclusion to The Covert Affairs duet; To Catch a Thief, the only thing more dangerous than kissing the enemy... is sleeping with the enemy. While she works out her drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as sassy and kick butt as she thinks she is. Though, until that ninja job comes through, you’ll find her acting out scenes for hubby and puppy while catching up on her favorite reality television shows in sunny San Diego.


About Rakuten Kobo Inc.

Rakuten Kobo Inc. is the world’s digital bookseller created by and for book lovers. Owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten and headquartered in Toronto, Rakuten Kobo’s 38 million worldwide users can read anytime, anywhere, and on any device. With a mission to make reading lives better for all, Rakuten Kobo connects readers to stories using thoughtful and personalized curation of eBooks and audiobooks, and the best dedicated devices and apps for reading. With the singular focus of making reading lives the best they can be, Kobo’s open platform allows people to fit reading into more moments in their busy lives.

Media Contact

Rene d’Entremont
Director, Communications

Follow us at @kobobooks on Instagram

If you would like to be the first to know about bookish blogs, please subscribe. We promise to provided only relevant articles.