The UK’s Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer Competition Opens to Trade Authors and Indies

In News by Porter Anderson

A rarity among major prize programs, the Young Writer of the Year Award welcomes the entries of work by self-published and traditionally published writers.

Max Porter won the 2016 Young Writer of the Year Award for his widely acclaimed ‘Grief Is the Thing With Feathers.’ Also shortlisted last year were the writers Andrew McMillan, Benjamin Wood, and Jessie Greengrass.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Encouragement and Exposure’

Both traditionally published and self-publishing British and Irish authors aged 18 to 35 can apply between now and June 2 for the £5,000 (US$6,186) Young Writer of the Year prize.

The Alliance of Independent Authors is preparing an updated edition of its “Open Up to Indies” guidebook and campaign—which argues that prize programs, in particular, should be receptive to the work of self-published authors as well as trade writers. The Young Writer of the Year prize is an example of just such a program.

The award, produced by The Sunday Times and the literary agency Peters Fraser + Dunlop (PFD) has its own Web site here and it began accepting entries today (April 7).

This award was on hiatus for seven years, prior to 2015, and this year adds a 10-week residency for the winner at Coventry’s University of Warwick, a new partner in the prize. Regular readers of Publishing Perspectives will know that Warwick last month also announced another new literary initiative, its Women in Translation prize.

In a prepared statement, Maureen Freely, English PEN’s president and Warwick department head in English and Comparative Literary Studies is quoted, saying:

Maureen Freely

“We at Warwick are absolutely thrilled to be part of this new partnership, which will allow us to do more than ever before for new writers and writing.

“The early stages of a writing career have always been perilous, but never more so than today.

“Our dream is to create a space in which young writers can build up their networks and experiment with new ideas in the classroom, the community, the virtual world, and, most important, on the page. It will be an honour to host them. We firmly believe that the future of literature itself is in their hands.”

Andrew Holgate

At The Sunday Times, the literary editor, Andrew Holgate, is quoted, saying that the award “is designed to put the spotlight on the best new writing talent from Britain and Ireland, providing young writers with the kind of encouragement and exposure that has made such a difference to the shortlistees and winners in the past.

“In the third year after the prize returned to enormous public and industry acclaim, I am particularly excited by the new associate partnership with the acclaimed writing course at the University of Warwick, and everything this is going to allow us to do to make our promotion of and support for young home-grown writers even stronger.”

Speaking for PFD, CEO Caroline Michel said:

Caroline Michel

“We recognize how important it is to support writers in every genre–poetry, fiction, history, biography–at the beginning of their careers.

“We are proud of what this award has achieved in the first two years of our involvement, and we are looking forward to another great year of highlighting the best writing to come.”

Interested writers should note that eligibility regulations require that a submitted book must have been “first published in the UK and/or the Republic of Ireland, in the English language, between May 2, 2016, and June 2 of this year.

As yet, the judging panel hasn’t been announced but a shortlist of four books is due to be revealed on November 5, with a winner announced on December 7.

Sarah Howe was the winner of the 2015 Young Writer of the Year Award, as it was revived after a seven-year interregnum. Also shortlisted in 2015 were the authors Ben Fergusson, Sunjeev Sahota, and Sarah Taylor.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.