Frequently Asked Questions

We receive many enquiries about every aspect of the Costa Book Awards, so we've taken all the most frequently asked questions and answered them in this section. If you can't find the answer to your question here, please use the contact details on our Press and PR page.

Q.How much is the prize money?
A.The total prize fund is £60,000. Each of the category winners receives £5,000 and the overall winner receives a further £30,000. The Short Story Award winner receives £3,000, with the authors in second and third place receiving £1,500 and £500 respectively.

But of course it’s not just about the prize money. Sales have historically been massively increased as a direct result of being shortlisted for, or winning, a Costa (or Whitbread) Award. Claire Tomalin, overall winner in 2002, said: “The effect on the sales of both my book on Pepys and my husband’s novel Spies has been phenomenal. It is lovely to win a prize but we and our publishers are all amazed by the surge into the bestseller lists.”
Q.How old are the Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Book Awards)?
A.The Whitbread Literary Awards, as they were then known, were launched in 1971. Costa took over the ownership of the Book Awards in 2006
Q.How do the Costa Book Awards work?
A.There are five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book. For each category there are three judges – generally an author, a bookseller and a journalist – who select a shortlist of four books, which includes the winner.

The judges’ brief is to select well-written, enjoyable books that they would strongly recommend anyone to read.

A nine-member judging panel, including the author from each of the original category judging panels, together with a Chairman and three other people in the public eye who love reading, then read the five winners and select one of them as the overall Costa Book of the Year.
Q.Has the Children's Book Award always been part of the main prize?
A.The importance of children's books within the UK's wide and varied literary tradition has always been recognised by the Whitbread/Costa Awards.

There have been many changes to the structure of the Book Awards over the years, but the Children’s Book category has always been a part of it. However, for two years – from 1996 – 1998 – although the winner of this category was selected by the final judging panel and received more prize money than the other categories, it wasn’t judged against the winners of the other categories for the Book of the Year. Since 1998, the Children’s Book Award has been judged against the other category winners for the main Book of the Year by the final judging panel.
Q.Can I see a list of all past winners?
Q.What books have previously been shortlisted?
A.We can provide a list of books shortlisted in all the categories from 1995 onwards, and to see that, please click here. We regret that we do not have any information preceding 1995.
Q.Is my book eligible?
A.Books must be submitted directly by publishers, not by authors. Authors of submitted books must have been resident in the United Kingdom or Ireland for over six months of each of the previous three years (although UK or Irish nationality is not essential).

Books must have been first published in the UK or Ireland between 1 November of the previous year and 31 October of the current year. Books previously published elsewhere are not eligible.

There is no limit on the number of books entered by each publisher, provided each one complies with the rules as above. Each book may only be entered in one category.

We regret that self-published books, books that are solely published online, translations and collections of short stories are not eligible with the current Awards category structure.
Q.How do I enter a book?
A.Your publisher must enter your book.

Publishers should contact the Booksellers Association to ensure they receive an entry form. These are mailed out at the end of May each year and copies are also made available for download from this website at the same time as the mailing. Close of entry each year is generally the last Friday in June.

The Booksellers Association can be contacted as follows:

tel: 020 7421 4693
Q.Why does Costa sponsor a book prize?
A.Coffee and books are the perfect blend and there’s nothing quite like putting your feet up with a good book and a great cup of coffee. Costa has always offered readers the chance to take time out to enjoy both these pleasures in our stores. By sponsoring the Book Awards, Costa aims to encourage new and existing readers to take time out with a coffee and enjoy great books.
Q.Can Costa help me to get my book published?
A.Unfortunately we are unable to help you with this.
Q.Who should I contact if I have a query about the Costa Short Story Award?
A.Please send an email You may not get an immediate response.
Q.Can I get any downloadable Costa Book Awards resources for my library/school?
A.All resources can be found here