UK: The Society of Authors Opens 2021 Grant Applications

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As the coronavirus intensity triggers a new and severe level of lockdown in the UK, the Society of Authors opens what may be an especially needed round of grant applications for British writers.

Ambulances stand on January 2 outside the Nightingale Hospital at London’s Excel Centre. Image – iStockphoto: VV Shots

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

Deadline to Apply; February 1
In London today, the Society of Authors has opened applications in its grants program for the support of works in progress. Needless to say, as the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic’s conditions becoming only more intense in the United Kingdom, the need for this support can be expected to rise, as well.

Each year, this trade union awards more than £370,000 (US$503,553) in this year’s grants that support writers working in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The intent is to have these funds “buy time,” as one society representative puts it to us today, to help writers work on their projects and/or pay for the cost of research.

Applications for the first of two waves of grants must be received by February 1 and grants will be distributed in October. A second round of grants later this year is to have a July 1 deadline, with grant funding distributed in October.

In its messaging on the application page—which can be found here—the program says that in December, it awarded 72 writers with more than £185,000 (US$251,748), “helping them with travel costs and easing financial pressures.”

You can read comments from some of the authors awarded then here.

These grants are a partnership effort between the Society of Authors and the K Blundell Trust.

Several stipulations worth considering apply.

For example, “Grants cannot be awarded to help toward publication costs. These type of costs are anything that should be covered by your publisher, which includes but is not restricted to:

  • “Image rights
  • “Cover design
  • “Employing an editor or proof-reader
  • “Printing or buying copies of your book from the publisher”

A grant can be used for mentorship or a retreat’s costs, “but this mentor support must be used by you to work specifically on your work in progress and not more generally for honing your craft. The Society of Authors also offers general grants for residential stays.”

Of special interest, “The most important part of your application is the description of your work in progress. The assessors will make their decision on the merit of your work and so you should use this section to explain what you’re working on and why you believe it is important.”

More such details are found in the FAQ for the program.

The Coronavirus in the United Kingdom

The UK reports Wednesday’s death toll to have been the highest since April, with 1,041 fatalities today.

Indeed, today has also logged the highest daily case count since the market’s testing began, with 62,322 cases, as reported by the BBC.

It’s worth quoting the report at a bit of length to grasp the gravity of the situation–which as we reported yesterday has led the government to enforce a new lockdown expected to last until mid-February at least.

“Health secretary Matt Hancock,” the article reports, “earlier said doctors could be forced to ration treatment without the new curbs. There are 30,074 COVID-19 patients in UK hospitals, he said, as an ambulance trust told of severe pressure.

“Current patient numbers are 39-percent higher than the previous peak on April 12 last year, when 21,684 were in hospital. The number of those who died within 28 days of a positive test in the past week is 37-percent higher than the previous seven days.”

Perhaps the best understanding of the crisis lies in Stephen Castle and Marc Santora’s report for The New York Times in which they write, “As England re-entered lockdown on Tuesday, new figures showed that one in 50 people had recently been infected with the virus, and officials warned that some restrictions on daily life could still be needed next winter.”

At this writing, the 4:22 p.m. ET (2122 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 2,845,236 cases in the UK’s population of 67 million, with 77,470 fatalities.

These figures put the UK at fifth in the world both for caseload and death toll.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Society of Authors is here, and more on the UK market is here. More from us on authors is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

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 2019 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 also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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