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The Clemens Medal is awarded to an author for a book of outstanding literary quality and design. The three elements considered for this award include:

  1. literary quality of work
  2. the cover design and to a lesser extent, interior design
  3. standard of editing


The award is open to all independent (self-published) authors, and authors published by a small or academic press. 


The nominated title must have won an award - gold, silver or bronze - from one of the award programs recognized for our Honoring Excellence award, which includes:


The following elements will be considered when assessing the literary quality of the nominated title. Note: not all of these elements will apply to every genre.

Plot: is the story well constructed, is author in control of plot and making wise decisions, do events happen within the limits of the theme and genre, is final resolution credible, and does it honor the story.

Style: is the style appropriate to the theme, genre, subject matter, is the dialogue genuine and does it work effectively with the narrative, author's use of literary techniques and contentions, observance of fundamental rules such as Point Of View, accuracy of any factual material, use of language to create atmosphere, settings, characters, actions etc.

Characterization: are characters believable, well-developed, do they interact in a convincing way, is their behavior consistent with their biography and consistent throughout the story, are they revealed to the reader in an effective way through action, inner dialogue, thoughts, reactions and responses to other characters.



Like story and writing style, design is quite subjective. Covers also need to respond to the elements that are relevant to a particular genre. We will be considering the following aspects of cover design:

  1. a well written, compelling back cover copy (or description for eBook)
  2. a custom, polished, professional design (no templates)
  3. the genre or story is evident in the design


With regard to interior design (print version only), we are not looking for elaborate design when simplicity works just as well. The nominated title will pass this criteria if:

  1. the print is positioned sensibly on the page
  2. the page numbering starts at chapter one
  3. includes a copyright page with relevant content
  4. includes a title page(s)


The work must be edited to a very high professional standard. We accept that despite endless edits, rewrites and proofreading that some errors do slip through, and this happens with all books not just self-published books. However, such errors should be minor and limited. 

Rowdy by Chris Madsen

Clemens Medalist


Books may be nominated or authors may enter their own title(s).

There is no copyright limitation ie books published in any year may be entered.

Submissions are made online. Please enter your book's title in the relevant field. 

If you have only published an eBook version of your book, we will review the cover of your eBook. If you published an eBook and print version, we will review both, particularly if there are different covers for each format. If not, we will review the print version.

We may ask you to provide an eBook version of your book so that it can be read by two or more reviewers however we will purchase a print version directly in order to assess design elements. 

Please note that since this award considers design, we are not able to accept galleys or manuscripts. 

There is no entry deadline. Books are assessed continuously throughout the year. 

A decision will be made within 4 weeks of receiving your entry. If you require an expedited decision, please contact us.

The entry fee per title is US$299 and you can enter online in our Store: The Clemens Medal

The award seal (when launched) may be used on your book cover, website, blog etc. It can however only be applied to the book that is awarded the medal, not all books published by the author.

About the Clemens Medal

The Clemens Medal is in honor of Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain who started his own publishing company (Charles L. Webster & Company)  in 1885 to self-publish his books.

The Clemens Medal recognizes non mainstream authors ie self-published or authors published by a small or academic press who have published a book of outstanding literary quality and design. 

Queries - please contact us!