Firecracker Awards

Celebrating the Best of Independently Published Literature

Firecracker Awards Seal

The CLMP Firecracker Awards for Independently Published Literature are given annually to celebrate books and magazines that make a significant contribution to our literary culture and the publishers that strive to introduce important voices to readers far and wide. Prizes are awarded in the categories of Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Magazine/General Excellence, and Magazine/Best Debut. Each year, CLMP also awards the Lord Nose Award, given to a publisher or editor in recognition of a lifetime of work in literary publishing.

A national publicity campaign spotlights and promotes our winning titles each year. In partnership with the American Booksellers Association, promotional materials—including a press release and shelf talkers featuring the winning titles—are distributed to over 500 independent booksellers across the country. Winners are also promoted in CLMP’s newsletters, on our website, and through a dedicated social media campaign. The publishers of winning titles receive a free one-year membership to CLMP, and magazine winners receive a one-year CLMP Member subscription to Submittable. To read press coverage about the 2020 Firecracker Award winners, visit our Press Center.

Submissions to the 2021 Firecracker Awards will be accepted from October 1 to November 16, 2020.


Finalists will be announced in spring 2021; the winners will be announced in June 2021.

Submission Guidelines

  • Books must be published by an independent publisher during the 2020 calendar year.
  • Anthologies and self-published titles are not eligible but works in translation and graphic novels are welcome.
  • English-language submissions from international publishers are eligible.
  • Both print and digital magazines are eligible.
  • Magazines submitting in the General Excellence category must have published regularly for at least the past two years.
  • Magazines submitting in the Best Debut category must have launched during the 2018, 2019, or 2020 calendar years.
  • There is no limit to the number of entries publishers may submit.
  • The entry fee is $65 ($55 for CLMP Members) for the first book and $30 ($25 for CLMP Members) for each additional entry.

Interested in becoming a CLMP Member? Join now.

2021 Firecracker Award Judges


Natanya Ann Pulley, author of With Teeth, published by New Rivers Press

Irene Yoon, Director of the LARB Publishing Workshop at the Los Angeles Review of Books

Robert Yune, author of Impossible Children, published by Sarabande Books


Creative Nonfiction

E. J. Koh, author of The Magical Language of Others, published by Tin House Books

Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World, published by Graywolf Press

Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, published by Milkweed Editions



Sarah Gambito, author of Loves You, published by Persea Books

Raquel Salas Rivera, author of while they sleep (under the bed if another country), published by Birds, LLC

Malcolm Tariq, author of Heed the Hollow, published by Graywolf Press



Charles Flowers, Editor, BLOOM Literary Journal

Keetje Kuipers, Editor, Poetry Northwest

Marcus Wicker, Poetry Editor, Southern Indiana Review



The Firecracker Awards are sponsored by