Man Booker, it’s time to open up literary prizes to self-published authors

It’s not my policy to run press releases, as this blog is my personal writing and publishing adventures. But this is a campaign I’m proud to get behind, and I think it will strike a chord with a few of you guys too.

Today, the winner of the Man Booker is announced, and Orna Ross (left), founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors, has issued an official plea to literary prize organisers everywhere: it’s time to open prizes to the quality work being produced by self-published authors.

Here’s Orna:

‘As so many authors are now producing work of creative and commercial merit, a prize that fails to include author-published work is deficient: unrepresentative in a way that seems incompatible with the prize sponsors’ commitment to diversity and inclusion. We strongly urge the Man Booker Prize to find ways to include self-publishing writers in their programme.’

(You might also recognise Orna as past guest on The Undercover Soundtrack, advocate of slow writing and my co-collaborator in the Women Writing Women box set.)

Of course, including self-publishers in established literary awards produces practical difficulties. We know; we know. I’ve suggested my own solutions to them here – the post is intended for reviewers but the issues similar to those faced by awards organisers – the volume of entries, the variable quality. And it’s useful to understand the reasons that perfectly ‘publishable’ authors choose the indie route – a positive choice, not the last resort of a second-rate writer. Ouch. It hurt to write that.

Orna is well aware of the difficulties of such a change, and she also has solutions:

‘We recognise that there are challenges in doing so and The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a guide to help those organisations that are sincere in ensuring that the best books, regardless of the means of production, are brought before their judges and committees. The Alliance runs an ongoing campaign, Opening Up To Indie Authors, which advocates for the opening of all book prizes โ€“ and other parts of the books industry – to self-publishing authors.’


For me, this is what it’s all about – rewarding the best books, regardless of the means of production. This should be said boldly and loudly.

And so I’m spreading the word as much as I can. Who’s with me?

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  1. #1 by The Story Reading Ape on October 17, 2017 - 9:23 am

    Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    If YOU agree with Roz and Orna – call over to her original blog post and reblog/share it from there ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. #2 by Stevie Turner on October 17, 2017 - 9:26 am

    Reblogged this on Stevie Turner, Indie Author. and commented:
    What a great idea (count me in)!

  3. #3 by Catherine Vaughan on October 17, 2017 - 9:29 am

    I agree, keyword being unrepresentative.

  4. #5 by watchingthedaisies on October 17, 2017 - 9:32 am

    Absolutely. ๐Ÿค—

  5. #7 by Cynthia Reyes on October 17, 2017 - 10:58 am

    I agree.

  6. #9 by jrlarner on October 17, 2017 - 12:33 pm

    Reblogged this on My Writing Blog and commented:
    Very true!

  7. #10 by Teagan R. Geneviene on October 17, 2017 - 1:24 pm

    You tell ’em Orna! Hugs.

  8. #12 by Lyn Horner on October 17, 2017 - 3:09 pm

    I absolutely agree! Shared on twitter, FB and Google+.

  9. #14 by Nicole Evelina on October 17, 2017 - 3:39 pm

    Totally with you!

  10. #15 by Jan Hawke on October 17, 2017 - 4:28 pm

    Reblogged this on Jan Hawke INKorporated and commented:
    amen! Amen!! AMEN!!!

  11. #16 by jinlobify on October 17, 2017 - 6:18 pm

    About time!

  12. #18 by Annalisa Crawford on October 18, 2017 - 11:22 am

    I think the main stumbling block would be a prohibitive costs. I read an article about even some publishers being priced out of certain competitions. It’s a great idea in principle, though.

    • #19 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on October 18, 2017 - 3:52 pm

      Entry fees: that’s a good point. I was hoping these would be some of the problems addressed in Orna’s document. She can’t be unaware of them. Perhaps there has to be a bigger change in the way these competitions are run and the values they espouse. And if the cost of entry is prohibitive, does it really serve readers to have a competition that is just for publishers who are rich? It’s a question worth asking. I’m glad you brought it up.

  13. #20 by lisarey1990 on October 18, 2017 - 11:24 pm

    Absolutely true. Great post. I think they are all just scared we’ll outdo the more established writers clearly. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. #22 by dgkaye on October 19, 2017 - 12:36 am

    Amen Roz and Orna! About time! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. #25 by tomangel1 on October 16, 2018 - 7:04 am

    Good blog – and I see this eventually changing. That self-publlshed books will be eventually included.

    I think they also avoid small publishers.

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