UK: The Society of Authors’ 2024 Award Winners

In News by Porter Anderson

Winners in the 2024 round of competitions administered by London’s Society of Authors meet at Southwark Cathedral for a ceremony.

At Southwark Cathedral in London, where the Society of Authors’ prize winners are honored this evening. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Coward Lion

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

See also:
Richard Charkin, OBE: Listed in the King’s Birthday Honors
The UK’s Society of Authors 2024 Award: £140,000 of Shortlists

£140,000 of Winnings
It’s a tradition of the Society of Authors awards program to name the winners some 10 hours before the ceremony in which they’re fêted.

So it is that this morning in London (July 20), the winners of this £140,000 (US$177,464) group of prizes have been announced before the community gathers at Southwark Cathedral for the event this evening.

In fact, Publishing Perspectives has been told, the Society of Authors’ winners, runners-up, and shortlistees all knew the awards results “weeks before the event date” before today’s embargo was lifted—not unlike the case of Richard Charkin and his new membership in the Order of the British Empire.

How Many Copies Can a Prize Sell?

Now that the news of the Society of Authors’ winners is announced, it might be worth the trade union’s time to track the market progress of its winners, normally by simply being in touch with the titles’ publishers. Despite the English market’s devotion to awards programs, only in three cases is the actual impact of awards on book sales offered to various news media and to the public.

Those three cases are, to date:

When a prize regime tracks and reports the bookselling reaction to a win, this gives credence to the assumption that those “golden stickers” help shift copies in the bookstores. Without such information, everyone is going on faith.

Here’s an example of how the Booker Foundation directed by Gaby Wood now is reporting to the press the sales impact of Paul Lynch’s win on November 26 of the Booker Prize for Fiction. Prophet Song, his winning novel, is published by Juliet Mabey‘s Oneworld Publications (August 24, 2023).

  • Prophet Song, the Booker team reports to us, saw a 1,500-percent increase in sales in the week following its win. Before its longlisting, Oneworld had sold 4,000 copies in hardback.
  • More than 100,000 hardback copies have now been sold in the United Kingdom.
  • It reached No. 3 in the Sunday Times bestseller list in the UK for hardback fiction.
  • In Ireland (Lynch is Irish and Prophet Song is set in Ireland), it stayed at No. 1 across all books for several weeks after the win.
  • Internationally, Oneworld has printed 170,000 export trade paperbacks, reporting “exceptionally strong sales in Ireland, Australia, and India.”
  • Grove Press has sold more than 90,000 hardbacks and ebooks in North America.
  • Translation rights deals increased from two before Prophet Song’s longlisting to 13 before its win.
  • A total of 33 international rights deals now have been secured, with a number of publishers buying Lynch’s complete backlist, as well.

Of course, a mighty platform is the Booker and the point is not that the Society of Authors’ awards should be able to have such dynamic impact. But at whatever level a sales lift can be measured in the marketplace, this kind of reporting on how a book is selling in the afterglow of a win puts the proof so long missing from the pudding into book awards, particularly in the accolade-avid UK market.

This could also be a way to help demonstrate to donors who make these monetary awards possible that their contributions are raising the market visibility of the books and writers their generosity supports.

And here are the winners announced tonight in the Society of Authors’ program.

Society of Authors 2024 Winners

ADCI Literary Prize

The ADCI Literary Prize is awarded to a disabled or chronically ill writer for a novel containing a disabled or chronically ill character or characters. Total prize fund: £2,000 (US$2,556).

  • Lorraine Wilson for Mother Sea (Fairlight Books)

Juried by Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Penny Batchelor, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Julia Lund, Karl Knights, Selina Mills, Vikki Patis, and Chloe Timms.

ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award

The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award is awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Total prize fund: £4,500 (US$5,751).

  • Alexandra Ye for “This Story”

Juried by Sophie Haydock, Yan Ge, Brian Chikwava and Peter Hobbs.

Betty Trask Prize

The Betty Trask Prize is awarded for a first novel by a writer under 35. Its prize fund is £26,200 (US$33,488).

  • Tom Crewe for The New Life (Penguin Random House / Vintage / Chatto & Windus)

Juried by Anjali Joseph, Michael Donkor, and Alex Preston.

Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize

The Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize is awarded to a United Kingdom or Irish writer, or a writer currently resident in those countries, for a novel focusing on the experience of travel away from home. In memory of Malcolm Lowry and endowed by Gordon Bowker, his biographer, and Ramdei Bowker. Its purse is £2,750 (US$3,515).

  • Soula Emmanuel for Wild Geese (Footnote Press)

Juried by Aamer Hussein, Yara Rodrigues Fowler, and Kerry Young.

McKitterick Prize

The McKitterick Prize is awarded for a first novel by a writer over 40, and is sponsored by the Hawthornden Foundation. Its purse is £10,000 (US$12,782).

  • Wenyan Lu for The Funeral Cryer (Atlantic Books / Allen & Unwin)

Juried by Anietie Isong, Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, Rebecca Foster, Gonzalo C. Garcia, and Rónán Hession.

Paul Torday Memorial Prize

The Paul Torday Memorial Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer older than 60. The prize includes a set of the collected works of British writer Paul Torday, who published his first novel, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, at age of 60. Purse: £4,000 (US$5,113)

  • Jacqueline Crooks for Fire Rush (Penguin Random House / Jonathan Cape)

Juried by Trevor Wood, Gaby Koppel, and Anni Domingo.

Queen’s Knickers Award

Sponsored by its founder Nicholas Allan, the Queen’s Knickers Award is an annual prize for an outstanding children’s original illustrated book for ages 0-7. Purse: £6,000 (US$7,066).

  • Benjamin Zephaniah and Nila Aye for People Need People (Hachette Children’s Group, Orchard Books)

Juried by Salomey Doku, Chris Haughton, and Cerrie Burnell.

More on the contest-administration operations of the Society of Authors is here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Society of Authors is here, more on world publishing’s myriad publishing and book awards is here, and more on the UK market 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 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.