Indie publisher And Other Stories has launched a £5,000 book prize to find “the next great writer” in the North.
The Northern Book Prize has been developed with New Writing North and will be celebrated with a free event in Sheffield, to where And Other Stories recently relocated from London, on 19th October, as part of Off The Shelf literary festival.
As well as the £5,000 prize, the winner will also receive editorial support from the publisher to develop the manuscript if needed, as well as a contract for worldwide publication and developmental opportunities from New Writing North.
Stefan Tobler, founder of And Other Stories, told The Bookseller: “We are not the first and definitely won’t be the last to say that the publishing industry is much too focused on one city. I think it has always been the case, if you look at examples like A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark [a novel set in the publishing industry in 1954]. There is a thirst to have more literary fiction published in the north.”
He said his organisation “looks around the world” at how publishing is successfully dispersed across other countries for inspiration and cited the examples of Graywolf Press and Coffee House Press in Minneapolis.
He also revealed that since the press moved from London to Sheffield he had noticed a difference in the “quality of the working lives” of his staff, including the higher quality of applications for an editorial production manager role which they recently recruited for.
Tara Tobler, And Other Stories editor and Stefan's wife, said: “We hope to tap some of the extraordinary literary energy in the North and are confident the prize will only grow in prestige and popularity in the years to come.”
She said the launch on 19th October would be an opportunity to “be there at the beginning of what we hope will be a great literary story for the North of England, and for Sheffield in particular”.
Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North said: “We know from our experiences running the Northern Writers’ Awards that there’s a huge range of exciting and diverse talent in the North of England. We’re looking forward to welcoming submissions to this wonderful new prize, which will provide the winning writer with a unique, valuable and career-changing opportunity."
The Northern Book Prize is supported by Northumbria University, in Newcastle, and Arts Council England and is open to writers based in the North of England. And Other Stories said that there are still sponsorship opportunities available.
Submissions for the prize will open on 16th November and close on 1st February 2018. The winner will be revealed at the Northern Writers’ Awards ceremony, June 2018 with And Other Stories aiming to launch the winning book during Off the Shelf next year.
Last month, The Bookseller heard how publishers in London were "struggling" to work out how to “address the problem of regional diversity”. At the time Malcolm said major publishing houses should consider moving outside of London in a bid to get “much closer” to their audiences
For more information about New Writing North, visit newwritingnorth.com.