The Lilian Jackson Braun Award is established as the result of a generous endowment by the late author to the Mystery Writers of America. A $2000 prize will be awarded annually for the best full-length, contemporary cozy mystery as submitted to and selected by a special MWA committee. To be considered for the award, submissions must meet the following criteria:
- The book must be a full-length (65K words or more) novel (hardcover, paperback original, or e-book original) first published by an MWA-approved publisher during the calendar year prior to the award being presented. Reprints are not eligible.
- Honoring Braun’s legacy and work, the book must be a contemporary cozy mystery with a current-day setting and the story emphasis on solving a crime, usually a murder. Historical mysteries, even if cozy in tone, do not qualify. However, the book may contain some historical elements (flashbacks, journal entries, etc.) as long as the emphasis is on the contemporary investigation of the mystery.
- The story may contain romantic and/or paranormal/fantasy elements, but those elements must not overshadow the investigating and solving of the mystery.
- The book must feature an amateur sleuth who is not a current or former member of any city/state/federal/military law enforcement organization; who is not a current or former private detective; and who does not have formal training or background in criminal investigation.
- The amateur sleuth need not be employed or actively pursuing an occupation. If the amateur sleuth is employed, typically the sleuth is an independent businessperson with job responsibilities that run concurrently with their investigating efforts.
- The story takes place in a literal or figurative community, i.e., a small town, college campus, private company, neighborhood, etc., the emphasis being on the sense of community. That community includes secondary characters who support the sleuth in their activities and who add a complementary layer to the story.
- Any sex or violence takes place offstage, and cursing and adult situations are kept to a minimum or eliminated entirely.
- The book may or may not be part of a continuing series.
- The story is light in tone, often humorous. While the book may reference serious themes or subject matter, it does so in a non-heavy-handed manner.
- The crime must be solved in a satisfactory manner by the end of the story.
Submitted books must be published by an MWA-approved publisher. Works should be submitted by the publisher, but may also be submitted by the author. Qualifying books must be published during the calendar year prior to the award year. Reprints are not eligible. Please note that submission of a novel for the Lilian Jackson Braun Award does not preclude it being submitted for Edgar consideration.