Why do some of your prizes and awards have age restrictions?
Our prizes and awards are enabled by the generous support of multiple sponsors. These might be bequests left in wills, ongoing donations by individuals, or support by organisations such as ALCS or the British Council.
In the case of bequests, such as our Eric Gregory Awards and Somerset Maugham Awards for example, the eligibility criteria are set out in a legal document and, as trustees of the fund, the Society of Authors has a responsibility to uphold the spirit and aims of the prize. For these two prizes this aim is the support and encouragement of young writers.
In the case of ongoing donations, as with the Paul Torday Memorial Prize, the age restriction of over 60 is the essence of the prize itself, celebrating authors coming to writing later in life in honour of Paul Torday who published Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the age of 60.
We are always looking to expand our prizes and awards into areas in which we feel there may be lack of representation. Our efforts are ongoing to find funding for new prizes and awards to continue celebrating and supporting new and diverse writing.
Why are some of your prizes not open to self-published books?
The eligibility criteria for our prizes is dictated by the aims of the individuals and organisations generously donating funds, in dialogue with the Society of Authors.
The starting point for new prizes always focuses on what specific aspect of creativity the prize or award is seeking to celebrate. Eligibility criteria are then introduced and are necessary as a means of controlling numbers of entries. This allows a prize to function – without specific eligibility criteria there would be no limit to submission, so rendering a prize impossible to administer.
Self-published books are currently accepted for our McKitterick Prize, and unpublished manuscripts are accepted into this and the Betty Trask Prize and Awards. Self-published books are accepted for the ADCI Literary Prize. We also accept unpublished poetry collections into the Eric Gregory Awards and these awards have no requirement of previous publication.
Which of your prizes are open to unpublished authors?
There are several prizes open to unpublished authors:
- The Betty Trask Prize and Awards – for a debut novel by an author under 35, open to unpublished manuscripts.
- The McKitterick Prize – for a debut novel by an author over 40, open to unpublished manuscripts and self-published novels.
- The Eric Gregory Awards – for a poetry collection by a poet under 30, no publication history required.
Do you have to be an SoA member to enter the prizes?
No, you don’t have to be a member. All writers are welcome to enter.
Is there a fee to enter?
No, none of our prizes have an entry fee.
Can I enter multiple prizes?
Some of our prizes, such as the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award, do stipulate that you can only submit one entry each year to that prize. However, if you are eligible, you are welcome to enter as many different prizes as you like.
I’m considering submitting an entry to the Betty Trask Prize and Awards, what is meant by “submissions must be of a romantic or traditional nature”?
The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are generously funded by a bequest by the late Betty Trask, and the terms and conditions for them are set out in her will. This is drawn directly from this legal document that states:
The prize awards or grants shall be conditional on the submission on behalf of a candidate author as his or her sole work of a romantic novel (or other novel of a traditional rather than an experimental nature as the Society may from time to time by regulation specify)
This does not mean that submissions must be romance novels but rather that they must not of an ‘experimental nature’.
When will I hear about the results of the prize?
The SoA Awards close for submissions in October and November and then the judging process begins. This will usually be concluded in spring of the following year at which point we will contact all shortlisted authors either directly or via their publishers.
We also contact all authors who have submitted to the prizes as soon as the shortlist is made public to notify them that they have not been successful on this occasion.
If my publisher has entered my book, will I be notified?
The Society of Authors will only ever contact the person who has completed the Google form online and entered their contact details.
Many publishers have a policy where they do not discuss prize entry with their authors to avoid any potential disappointment and as such we are unable to discuss entry to our prizes with anyone who is not the person submitting, even if it is your book.
Is there a limit to the number of entries a publisher can make to any of the prizes?
There is no limit for most of our prizes, the only exception is the Queen’s Knickers Award which allows three submissions per imprint.
My book is only available as an e-book, am I eligible for any prizes?
If your book is only available as an e-book you might be eligible for the McKitterick Prize for debut novelists over 40.
I’ve written my debut novel, but I’ve had other books published in the past. Am I eligible for the debut prizes?
If you’ve had books of other genres published, such as children’s books, short story collections, non-fiction books, or poetry, this does not stop you from entering our prizes for debut novels. These are:
I’m entering a book to the McKitterick Prize which has been traditionally published, but I have self-published previously. Am I still eligible?
No, as your self-published novel would have been eligible for the prize it counts as your debut. This also counts for books that you may have published under a pseudonym.
I’ve entered a prize that is about to close, do books need to arrive with you before the deadline for submissions?
There is a short grace period after the prize has closed for books to arrive to allow for any postage mishaps or books that are entered in the final days of the prize submission period.
Please note that the Google form must be completed before the closing date for the prize in order for your entry to be considered.
I’d like to enter an unpublished manuscript to the McKitterick Prize, but I’ve previously self-published. Am I eligible?
No, as the McKitterick Prize accepts self-published books this counts as your debut and you cannot now submit an unpublished manuscript to the prize.
Using the Google entry form
I’m using the Google entry form and it will only let me enter a Gmail email address, which I don’t have. How can I enter?
For our prizes we are often asking for entrants to upload documents to our Google drive; this might be a cover image of a book or an unpublished manuscript, and so a login is required to protect us from any illegitimate entries from coming through.
A gmail account is not required to use the form. First you need to click on ‘Create Account’.
You will be invited to select if you are creating an account for yourself or for your business. Once you have selected on the next screen you can choose to use a non-gmail email address by clicking on ‘Use my current email address instead’.
I’ve entered a prize that requires my entry to be anonymous, but in the confirmation email I’ve been sent my name has been added to the file name. How can I change this?
This is something that Google forms does automatically to all file names. The file is anonymised by us at our end and does not affect the validity of your entry.
I would prefer not to use the Google form. Can I enter by email or by post?
Yes. Please contact us at email@example.com or on 020 3880 2230 and we can send you an entry form that we’ll add to our system manually.