ASJA's Annual Writing Awards


Past Award Winners

Thank you to all of those who submitted in the 2021 ASJA Writing Awards. Submissions are now closed!

2021 Awards Categories



The Arlenes: Articles That Make a Difference

ASJA member Howard Eisenberg established the Arlene Eisenberg Memorial Fund to honor his late wife, the author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting and other bestselling books that made a difference in the lives of mothers worldwide. Income generated by the fund allows ASJA to give monetary awards to winners of Arlenes, which are awarded annually for articles and once every three years for books. The winning book or freelance article must have “made a difference” by inspiring positive action within a locale or community; society; or the world. In the past, the award has been given for articles or books that inspired readers to do such things as lobby for legislation or form an advocacy group. Past winners have also stirred officials to launch an investigation, correct an injustice, or remove a hazard.

The Arlene Article Award is presented annually for an article published within the prior two years. For 2021, eligible articles must have been published in 2019 or 2020.

To be considered for an Arlene, articles MUST be:

  • Published in the United States within the stated period
  • Freelance written
  • Accompanied by documentation supporting the positive impact of the book or article. This may include evidence of media coverage, testimonials, or other public recognition.

The Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism

This award honors ASJA’s third president, a noted investigative writer. Articles entered should demonstrate outstanding writing and organization plus new or hitherto unrevealed research. Or, if the topic frequently gets attention, the article should show it in a new light.

The work of any writer may be nominated so long as it is freelance-written and published or released in the United States during the eligibility period. (Staff-written work does not qualify.)

If the work was supported by a grant or payment from a foundation or other organization, or if the author was otherwise aided (such as in data collection or statistical analysis), we ask that this be noted at the time of submission, along with the time period for any such support. This is solely for the purpose of establishing that the work was freelance-written.

Outstanding Article Awards

These awards honor writers whose articles, produced on a freelance basis, have demonstrated excellence in writing, research, and clarity of presentation.


  • Blog Post, Personal: This is intended for posts, or a collection of no more than three related posts on the same topic, published on personal blogs. [Articles appearing on third-party blogs should be entered in Opinion/Op-Ed or Reported Essays.]
  • Business, including Marketing: This category is for any business-related article.
  • Excellence in Reporting (formerly called “Reporting on a Significant Topic”): Consideration will be given to the relevance and universality of the topic, as well as overall excellence.
  • First-Person Essays: The category includes personal essays that are entirely based on personal experiences, reflections, or observations. [Reported personal essays have their own category, Reported Essays.]
  • Fitness & Sports: This includes pieces on running, fitness, and any sport or specific sporting event. Profiles may be entered here or in “Profiles,” but not both.
  • Food & Drink: This includes articles about food; wine; beer; a restaurant or restaurants; a vineyard; cooks; and the like.
  • Health: Any piece on a health topic is eligible, no matter where published.
  • How-To (formerly called “Service”): These may include advice, self-help, or how to do something.
  • Lifestyle: Articles on matters of culture; style; leisure and home pursuits (including decorating and companion animals); art and music criticism; and reviews.
  • Opinion/Op-Eds: This category may include blog posts published by third parties. In addition to the writer’s opinion, entries must include reported evidence/research.
  • Profiles: This category includes all profiles, no matter where published. Formerly, members entered profiles appearing in trade journals in the “Trade” category.
  • Reported Essays: This category is for personal essays that incorporate research supporting the topic.
  • Science: Articles on any science subject may be entered.
  • Social Change: Articles or essays that address current social change or injustice in today’s turbulent climate may be entered.
  • Technology: Articles on any tech subject may be entered.
  • Trade: This category includes pieces that appeared in a specialized industry or professional publication intended for members or those who work in a specific field.
  • Travel: Any narrative travel article is eligible.

Outstanding Book Awards

These awards are for nonfiction books written by independent (not staff) writers that are deemed significant, exceptionally well-researched, and skillfully written.

Books must have published in the United States during calendar year 2020. Entries may be written by an individual author or may be collaborative works. Self-published books, eBooks, and traditionally published books may be nominated.

The categories:

  • Biography/History
  • Children/Young Adult Nonfiction
  • General Nonfiction
  • Memoir/Autobiography
  • Service/Self-help

Please note: Only PDF or eBook submissions will be accepted; do not send physical books.

Outstanding Content Awards

These awards honor writers whose articles, produced on a freelance basis for an organization -- a business, nonprofit, hospital, university, or association -- have demonstrated excellence in writing, research, and clarity of presentation.

  • B2B Blog or Article: This category includes blogs and articles published in either print or online, written for B2B (Business-to-Business) companies. Only stories that are not focused on products or services will be considered. Entries for any size company or industry are welcome.
  • B2C Blog or Article: This category includes blogs and articles published in either print or online, written for B2C (Business-to-Consumer) companies. Only stories that are not focused on products or services will be considered. Entries for any size company or industry are welcome.             
  • Long-Form Content: This category includes long-form content published in either print or online, written for either B2B or B2C companies. Only stories that are not focused on products or services will be considered. Accepted formats include whitepapers, eBooks, or reports.


June Roth Memorial Awards for Outstanding Medical Article and for Medical Book

The June Roth Memorial Fund was established by her late husband to honor our 31st president, a well-known medical writer. Income generated by the fund provides monetary awards to ASJA members whose articles or books represent exceptional achievement in health and medical writing. The June Roth Article and Book Awards are offered every year.

For 2021, eligible articles must have been published in 2020.


Nomination Procedures for Other ASJA Awards

ASJA Founders Award for Career Achievement
ASJA Extraordinary Service Award
Robert C. Anderson Award
Conscience in Media Award
Open Book Award

To nominate someone for any of these awards, complete the online form HERE. There is no fee. *Please note: this form only pertains to the five awards listed above, and is not related to the ASJA Annual Awards Program.*

  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson