Faber launches competition for BAME children’s authors

Faber launches competition for BAME children’s authors

Faber & Faber is launching an award to find BAME children’s writers and illustrators in partnership with the Andlyn Literary Agency.

The Faber Andlyn BAME Prize (FAB) is for any unpublished UK or Irish children’s authors who are from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

Aspiring authors can send in text or illustrations from tomorrow (9th December) and the entries will be judged by Davinia Andrew-Lynch, founder of the Andlyn Literary Agency, and three Faber members of staff: children’s publisher Leah Thaxton, creative director Donna Payne and art director Emma Eldridge.

Four prizes will be awarded - one illustrator will win a first prize of £500 (or £300 and a one-year portfolio membership for the Association of Illustrations, worth £200), a private consultation with the judges and a year of regular mentoring, while the first prize-winning writer will also win £500, the consultation session and mentoring.

The judges will award two second prizes of a consultation of with the judges, and all four of the winners will receive a selection of Faber books.

The FAB Prize judges, (l-r) Leah Thaxton, Donna Payne, Emma Eldridge and (front) Davinia Andrew-Lynch

When asked whether Faber would offer any of the winners a publishing contract, a spokesperson said: "Whilst we're excited about possible outcomes from the competition and wouldn't rule anything out, this is primarily a prize with a focus on mentoring new writers and providing support on their projects for a year."

Andrew-Lynch said: "We know that young readers greatly benefit from books which reflect the society in which they live, and that such books provide a clearer understanding of the world around them. To meaningfully change the output of our market we need to reach out beyond the usual publishing spheres and directly find those writers and illustrators who may, for whatever reason, have not been given a voice within our industry.”

Thaxton added: “It is clear that the industry needs to do much, much more to unearth new talent and make our publishing more representative.”

The full entry criteria is available on the prize website. The competition closes for entries on the 6th April 2017 and the winner will be announced on the 1st June.

Many publishers have announced they were actively seeking authors from more diverse backgrounds in recent months, including Nosy Crow, which put out a call for submissions from BAME authors last December.

Penguin Random House has launched the WriteNow scheme for authors from BAME and LGBTQ backgrounds, as well as writers with a disability, whilst HarperCollins launched a BAME training scheme in June. Meanwhile, Hachette has pledged to tackle diversity in senior management.

Last month London Book Fair (LBF) and the Publishers Association (PA) hosted the first Building Inclusivity in Publishing conference. However, at the conference Crystal Mahey-Morgan, the founder of OWN IT!, has called on the industry to stop focusing on entry-level schemes to improve diversity, but instead to look at the boardrooms “where the real decisions are actually made”.