Award/Event: Amazon Canada First Novel Award
Client: Amazon Canada
Timing: 2016-present

The Opportunity

Established in 1976, the First Novel Award program honours the achievements of Canadian authors and their debut novels. It has launched the careers of some of Canada’s most beloved novelists. Amazon Canada wanted to strengthen their connection with the publishing industry and elevate their image as supporters of emerging Canadian writers.

Our Approach

Amazon Canada chose The Walrus to manage their prize because of our deep connections to the Canadian publishing and literary community. We are trusted. In this case, it’s the writing and publishing community that trusts us, and our work brought that trust to Amazon Canada. The partnership between Amazon Canada and The Walrus Lab aims to heighten and extend the brand of the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, increase public engagement with Amazon Canada, draw together a diverse group of authors whose works will appeal to a broad audience, and ultimately help launch the career of the next great Canadian writer.

What we did

We run and produce the prize for Amazon, providing a turnkey solution. We run the jury, the submissions process, the shortlist, the media, the creative, the design, and the winner’s media campaign. We plan the annual ceremony gala, organizing the production, audience, and VIP experience.


  • Since The Walrus has been involved with the award, the prize money has increased to $60,000 from $7,500. It is now in the same league as the Giller Prize.
  • The success of the award has led to an expansion into the youth writers’ space, with the creation of the Youth Short Story prize in 2018.
  • The 2021 winning novel, Five Little Indians by Michelle Good, went on to be the winner of Canada Reads 2022, and it was the bestselling Canadian book of 2021. It will soon be made into a limited television series.
  • Past guest speakers at the annual ceremony have included celebrated Canadians authors, such as Yann Martel, Lawrence Hill, Cherie Dimaline, and Michelle Good.

  • The Walrus Lab