Each year we receive well over a thousand entries to the prize, and with those come many enquiries. As we are now weeks away from the entry deadline, we wanted to share our advice on the most frequently asked questions entrants have, and to highlight the crucial eligibility requirements for anyone entering the competition.
As with any legal document, it is important to read the Terms and Conditions in full. However, here are the questions that we get asked most and the clauses that usually require most clarification:
QUESTION: what track record do I need to enter? Do I need to be published?
ANSWER: yes, all writers must have a track record of creative writing in the UK or Ireland.
However, don't be discouraged if you have not been on the bestseller chart yet. Although the Award needs an entrant to have been published, the definition of what 'published' means and what a work is are deliberately broad in order to welcome entries from all different kinds of writers, and at all stages of their literary careers.
As a testament to this many writers who have been shortlisted or indeed won in the past have been emerging authors, including Sally Rooney, Courtney Zoffness and last year's winner Danielle McLaughlin.
The clause to pay attention to here is 3.6., which details the ways a writer and their story are eligible or not. Please read this list carefully.
For example, the Award's definition of 'published writer' doesn't necessarily mean that entries can only be accepted from writers with a publishing deal. You can also have had a work published in a printed magazine (or online version of one), or broadcast on national radio in the UK or Ireland.
Equally, 'work' doesn't need to be a short story or even a novel — it can be any work of prose fiction, drama or poetry. Works of journalism or non-fiction unfortunately do not qualify, even if they have been published.
QUESTION: do I need to be a British or Irish citizen?
ANSWER: no. The Award welcomes work from writers from anywhere in the world, as long as they have been published at least once in the UK or Ireland as above, and as long as their story was first written in English.
QUESTION: why do I need to be aware of who holds the audio rights to my story?
ANSWER: the award has been lucky enough to be sponsored by Audible since 2019. Of the many exciting opportunities this sponsorship brings, perhaps the most appealing is that Audible produces an exclusive audiobook anthology of the shortlist each year, bringing their short story to an even wider audience. You can listen to last year's outstanding shortlist here.
However, in order for Audible to produce the audiobook, they need certain audio rights to the story, which must be exclusive for 12 months and non-exclusive for at least ten years thereafter. As such, whoever holds the rights to your story must be happy for you to enter it, as without this the story cannot progress to shortlist stage from the longlist.
Clause 4.3. in the Terms and Conditions explains this in more detail.
QUESTION: I have a story that I'd like to submit, but it has already been published. Can I still enter it?
ANSWER: yes. Stories can be entered if they have been published before (unless the story has been published as an audiobook), and as long as it was published on or after 1 January 2019. But remember please don't enter a story that has been entered for the Award before, unless it has changed substantially enough to be considered original.
IF YOU HAVE ANY OTHER QUESTIONS, PLEASE DO GET IN TOUCH ON firstname.lastname@example.org