The Facing Project Press — Empathy Prize for Nonfiction

Established in 2021 with the publication of co-founder J.R. Jamison’s memoir, HILLBILLY QUEER, The Empathy Prize will be awarded by The Facing Project Press for a book-length work of nonfiction that embodies The Facing Project’s mission of creating a more understanding and empathetic world through stories that inspire action. We are especially interested in works that focus on connecting across differences, current events, and lifting up underrepresented voices, such as those not often heard around race/ethnicity, class, geography/culture, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and ability.

DEADLINE: Closed for 2023. Check back later for 2024-2025 submission dates.

ENTRY FEE: There is no fee to enter.


  • We welcome narrative nonfiction, memoir, or essay collection submissions. Manuscripts must be complete and between 60,000 and 85,000 words.

  • Entrants are limited to one entry per person.

  • Manuscripts must be written in English and an original, unpublished work of a single author. Manuscripts previously published in their entirety, including self-published manuscripts, are not eligible.
  • The entrant must be 18 years of age or older and living in the United States for the past two years (citizenship is not a requirement) at the time of entry.

  • The entrant and the submitted manuscript should not be subject to any plagiarism or copyright infringement claims or claims of invasion of privacy or publicity at the time of entry.
  • Current members of The Facing Project board of directors, its Muse Collective, or family members of the board are ineligible; former board members or their family may submit three years after the board member’s term has expired.
  • All entrants must provide a brief description of the story (as in a query letter to an agent or publisher) and describe how the book embodies The Facing Project’s mission of creating a more empathetic world through stories that inspire action.


  • No manuscripts will be returned.
  • The winner will be selected and notified prior to being announced on our website and through press release.
  • Entrants may submit their manuscript to other publishers during the prize review timeline, but we kindly ask entrants to withdraw their submission from consideration via Submittable if the work is accepted elsewhere.
  • The winner will be offered the opportunity to publish their work through The Facing Project Press. Our team will work with the author on any necessary edits and will prepare the book for market.
  • The Facing Project Press will not provide feedback, editorial or otherwise, to any entrants other than the winner of The Empathy Prize.


  • Manuscripts must be typed, double-spaced, and use 12-point Times New Roman.

  • All entries must include a title page with the title of the manuscript, author’s name and contact information (US mailing address, phone number, and email address), and name and contact information for the literary agent (if applicable).

  • Subsequent pages must include a page number as a footer and the author’s last name and manuscript title as a header.

  • Only .doc and .docx files will be accepted.


  • All submissions will be reviewed by a sub-committee of The Facing Project’s board of directors that includes Kelsey Timmerman (co-founder, senior editor, and New York Times bestselling author of the WHERE AM I? series); J.R. Jamison (co-founder and author of HILLBILLY QUEER); Jane Friedman (editor of The Hot Sheet and author of THE BUSINESS OF BEING A WRITER); and a small number of others from The Facing Project board of directors, including other volunteers.

  • The winner of the Empathy Prize will be selected by this committee.

  • The winning submission will have the opportunity to be published by The Facing Project Press. See further details below.

  • Non-winners are eligible to resubmit the same project or a new project for future Prize years.


The winner of The Empathy Prize may choose to have their work published in paperback (POD) and ebook edition by The Facing Project Press. The publishing contract includes a $1,000 USD advance, 15% royalties of the net revenue on all net copies sold of the paperback edition, and 50% royalties on the retail price on all net copies sold of the eBook edition. While the contract is otherwise negotiable, the winner must grant The Facing Project Press exclusive world rights to print, publish and distribute the work in English in print and ebook formats.

Only the prize as described here shall be awarded. No substitutions, cash equivalents and/or redemptions shall be made. The prize is not transferable.


For any questions about the contest or our submissions policy/process, please contact Kelsey Timmerman, Senior Editor, at

We look forward to reading and considering your work!


The Facing Project Press is an imprint of The Facing Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that creates a more understanding and empathetic world through stories that inspire action. The organization provides tools and a platform for individuals and communities to share their stories, connect across differences, and begin crucial conversations through their own narratives. Over 100 Facing Projects have been organized in 18 states, and The Facing Project Radio Show airs once a month on select NPR-affiliate stations and via NPR One.  

The Facing Project Press was established in the spring of 2020 to provide a publishing outlet for books written and developed by Facing Project communities. In addition to the titles from Facing Project communities, The Facing Project Press acquires memoirs, narrative nonfiction, and essay collections that strive to live out the mission of The Facing Project through The Empathy Prize.

Learn more about The Facing Project’s work at or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @FacingProject.