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Ninth Annual Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Now Open for Submissions

February 06, 2023

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 – February 6, 2023 – Rakuten Kobo, the global eBook and audiobook retailer, today announced it is accepting submissions for its ninth 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 Speculative Fiction; a different genre is showcased each year), and Non-Fiction.

The winning authors will be announced in June 2023 and awarded a $10,000 CAD cash prize, in addition to marketing and communications support throughout the remainder of 2023.

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

Pik-Shuen Fung for her Literary Fiction novel, Ghost Forest, a graceful and indelible debut about love, grief, and family; Jesse Wente for Non-Fiction for his powerful part-memoir, part-manifesto Unreconciled, which uncovers the truth of our flawed concept of reconciliation; and Damhnait Monaghan for Genre Fiction for her delightful small-town, slow-burn Romance New Girl in Little Cove.

Each year, the winning titles are selected by three prominent authors. The 2023 prize judges are: Robert J Wiersema, who will judge the Speculative Fiction category; Emily Urquhart, who will judge the Non-Fiction category; and CS Richardson who will judge this year’s Literary Fiction category.

Submissions are now open and will be accepted here until March 6, 2023 for debut books in the categories of Literary Fiction and Non-Fiction published in 2022 by Canadian citizens and/or permanent residents of Canada, and debut Genre Fiction (Speculative) published in the years 2020, 2021, or 2022 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 submit debut Literary Fiction and Non-Fiction books published in 2022, and debut Genre Fiction (Speculative Fiction) books published in 2020, 2021, or 2022 here. We have changed the submission requirements for the Genre Fiction category (Speculative Fiction) to include all debut Speculative Fiction books since we last featured this rotating genre, which was last in 2019.

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 also be considered.

Rules and Regulations here.

About the Judges

CS Richardson, Literary Fiction

CS Richardson’s first novel, The End of the Alphabet, was an international bestseller, published in fourteen countries and ten languages, and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book (Canada and the Caribbean). His second novel, The Emperor of Paris, was a national bestseller, named a Globe and Mail Best Book of the year, and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His newest novel, All the Colour in the World, tells the story of the restorative power of art in one man’s life, set against the sweep of the twentieth century—from Toronto in the ‘20s and ‘30s, through the killing fields of World War II, to 1960s Sicily. An award-winning book designer, CS Richardson worked in publishing for forty years. He is a multiple recipient of the Alcuin Award, Canada's highest honour for excellence in book design. He lives and writes in Toronto.

Emily Urquhart, Non-Fiction

Emily Urquhart is a journalist with a doctorate in folklore. Her award-winning longform nonfiction has appeared in Guernica, Longreads and The Walrus among other publications. She is the author of Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes, a Kobo First Book Prize nominee, as well as the memoir The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, My Father and Me, which was listed as a top book of 2020 by CBC, NOW Magazine and Quill & Quire. She has taught creative writing at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo and is a nonfiction editor with The New Quarterly. Her essay collection, Ordinary Wonder Tales, was published in Fall 2022.

Robert J Wiersema, Genre Fiction (Speculative Fiction)

Robert J Wiersema is the bestselling author of Before I Wake, Bedtime Story, and four other books. One of Canada’s foremost writers on books, his reviews appear regularly in the Toronto Star, Quill & Quire and other publications, and his Beyond the Bestseller column is featured biweekly on CBC Radio. Born and raised in the Fraser Valley, a couple of hours outside of Vancouver, Wiersema now lives in Victoria, BC. He is a professor of Creative Writing at Vancouver Island University and teaches his own private writing program.


About Rakuten Kobo Inc.

Rakuten Kobo Inc. is the world’s digital bookseller created by and for booklovers. Owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten Group, Inc. and headquartered in Toronto, Rakuten Kobo’s millions of 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 eReaders 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.

To learn more about Rakuten Kobo, visit

Media Contact

Erin Ierullo 
Senior Manager, Global Communications 
[email protected]

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