Creative Nonfiction Grant

Creative Nonfiction Grant

Intensely researched nonfiction books, written with an artful sensitivity to complexity and nuance, have always been important in shaping the way we understand the world; today they are essential.

In recent years many extraordinary writers have contributed crucial works extending the form: Hope Jahren's Lab Girl, Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Gene, Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me, Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams, Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: A Lyric, and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, to name just a few examples.

Such projects require a wealth of time and resources. The path to a groundbreaking book is long and intensive, and the research process is unpredictable - even a generous advance from a supportive publisher may run out just as a writer unearths an essential piece of the story she’s trying to tell, something transformative that leads to new questions.

Recognizing this challenge to the creation of such exemplary works of literature, the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant’s chief objective is to foster original, ambitious projects that bring writing to the highest possible standard. Knowing that writers of color often face additional structural hurdles to securing institutional resources to support such projects, we particularly encourage applications from these writers.

Explore previous grant winners here.

The 2022 call for applications is now closed

Application Information

Applications for the 2022 cycle of the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant closed on April 25. Applicants will be notified of the results in October.

We anticipate that we will begin accepting applications for the 2023 cycle in February. The information about the 2022 cycle is for reference only.

 

Past Application Guidelines (for reference only)

The 2022 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant of $40,000 will be awarded to as many as ten writers in the process of completing a book-length work of deeply researched and imaginatively composed nonfiction for a general readership. It is intended for multiyear book projects requiring large amounts of deep and focused research, thinking, and writing at a crucial point mid-process, after significant work has been accomplished but when an extra infusion of support can make a difference in the ultimate shape and quality of the work.

Whiting welcomes applications for works of history, cultural or political reportage, biography, memoir, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, graphic nonfiction, and personal essays, among other categories. Again, the work should be intended for a general, not academic, adult reader. Self-help titles, books for young readers, and textbooks are not eligible. Examples of the wide range of previous grantees can be found here.

Projects must be under contract with a publisher in the US, UK, or Canada to be eligible. Contracts with self-publishing companies are not eligible.

Writers must submit the following materials:

  • The original proposal that led to the contract with a publisher
  • Up to 25,000 words from your draft. Please submit complete draft chapters, rather than short excerpts from across your book, to the extent the word count allows
  • A statement of work to be completed and plan for use of funds
  • A signed and dated contract (please note that to be eligible, books must be under contract with a US, UK, or Canadian publisher – unfortunately, we can make no exceptions to this requirement)
  • A current resume
  • A list of grants, fellowships, or other funding received for the book
  • A letter of support from your publisher or editor

Each project under submission will have two first-round readers who will evaluate for substance and execution. Finalists will be considered by a separate panel of judges who will evaluate for content and need. Readers and judges will consist of experts in the field and will serve anonymously to shield them from any external pressures. The grantees will be announced in the fall.

The Foundation hosted online information sessions to answer questions and offer guidance on applying for the grant on Feb 17 and Mar 16. You may watch a recording of the Mar 16 info session here.

If you have any questions about the eligibility of your project or the application process, please contact the Whiting Foundation at nonfiction@whiting.org.

Regardless of eligibility for this grant, Whiting encourages nonfiction writers at all stages of the writing process to consult the Poets & Writers’ Writing Contests, Grants & Awards database for other opportunities for support.

Nonfiction authors with books under contract with a publisher might also consider applying to the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards.

A few opportunities open to nonfiction writers not under contract with a publisher include: