The Sunday Times is to relaunch its Young Writer of the Year Award, with backing from literary agency Peters Fraser & Dunlop (PFD). For the first time, the prize will consider self-published authors.
The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award of £5,000 will be awarded for a full-length published or self-published (in print or e-book format) work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, by an author from the UK or Ireland aged between 18 and 35. This year’s prize covers books published in the year ending 30th June 2015. A shortlist of four titles will be announced in November, with the winner revealed in December.
This year’s prize judges are Sunday Times literary editor Andrew Holgate and chief fiction reviewer Peter Kemp, and author Sarah Waters, who won the prize in 2000. The award, administered by the Society of Authors, was first launched in 1991.
The award will be unveiled in the Sunday Times this weekend. It was suspended in 2008, but Holgate said he had long wanted to resurrect the prize: “There was some trimming going on back then [because of the recession] so we suspended it, but ever since I’ve always wanted to re-start it. The prize was always low-key, but when I talked to previous winners I was amazed how much difference it had made. They felt great loyalty to the prize. We want to use that heritage to do more of the same, but with more energy.”
Imprints will be able to submit two titles, but may petition the judges to send in a third. Self-published books will be submitted first to PFD, with six self-published titles to be sent on to the judges. Holgate said: “It is about adjusting the prize to the realities of the modern world; there is no reason why we should have a bias against self-published works.”
Caroline Michel, chief executive of PFD, said the agency was attracted by the notion of finding and supporting new writers, adding that the award would also give PFD an insight into the growing world of self- publishing. Michel said: “This is what we are about—finding new writers. Since the days when the award first ran [the trade] has changed dramatically. Our big interest was to look at the self-published market, to give those writers a chance to be recognised and to have an opportunity to enter a prize that celebrates new writing across all forms. We will provide a gateway for the self-published. We are hoping thousands will come in.” PFD has no involvement in the final judging process.
Support from the paper will increase, Holgate said, with the Sunday Times set to devote more space to the award, including each of the shortlisted writers.