Life Writing Prize FAQs

Life Writing Prize

We thought these FAQs might be useful for you to take a look through along with the terms and conditions if you are thinking of submitting to the Prize in 2017, its inaugural year.

What is life writing?

For the purposes of this Prize, life writing is ‘intended to be true’, reflects someone’s own life journey or experiences and is not fiction. It is writing from the author’s own personal experience.

Does my entry have to be entirely prose?

No, your entry doesn’t have to be entirely prose. It can contain poetry if that’s right for the piece. Graphic novel style submissions, where text accompanies image, are welcome. Playscripts, or scripts for radio / screen are not eligible for this Prize.

If I’m sending you the beginning extract of up to 5000 words from a larger piece of writing, does my manuscript have to be finished?

No, your longer manuscript does not need to be finished. Your entry itself needs to be in a strong place though.

What are the prizes?

One writer will be chosen to win the first prize of £1500, an Arvon course of their choice (subject to availability), two years’ membership with the Royal Society of Literature and a meeting with an agent or editor as appropriate. Their winning piece will be published on Spread the Word’s website. Two highly commended entries will receive £500 each plus a session with a mentor. Three writers will be shortlisted, and six longlisted.

What is a professional literary publishing credit?
For the purposes of this Prize, a professional publishing credit is where you have been paid for your literary work for publication online or in print. Examples of a professional publishing credit for the Prize could be a poem in an anthology, a short story collection, a novel, a short story broadcast on radio. Where you have received a payment for a piece of work, this would count as one publishing credit. Let’s use some examples:

Hanna has had two poems published online without receiving any payment. For the purposes of this Prize, we would not count these as professional publishing credits because we are looking at where writers have been paid for their work.

Ella had a short story published in an anthology and received a payment for this. She was commissioned to write a story for Radio 4 and received a payment for this. She has published a short story collection and received a payment for this. Ella has three professional publishing credits.

Is historical fiction eligible?

If it is purely historical fiction, then no. But if a significant portion of your own experience is woven into the narrative, then yes, it does count. Writing about a period in history where you have not related it to your own experience is not eligible for this competition.

Will you be providing feedback for all the entries?

Unfortunately we aren’t able to provide feedback for all the entries we receive. Judges will provide a paragraph of feedback for the winning entry, and the two highly commended entries.

Is there a fee to submit?

Thanks to the generous donation that made the prize happen, there is no fee for entering this year.

Can I submit more than one piece?

You can submit more than one entry we advise that you do not submit more than two entries. Multiple submissions need to be submitted separately. We would urge you to err on the side of quality rather than quantity in your submissions, so our recommendation is you submit the piece you are most proud of.

Can I submit a piece that has been published elsewhere?

The Life Writing Prize is for entries that have not been previously published, so no. This includes pieces that have been self-published in print or online (on your own or someone else’s blog for example).

Can I submit something from a book that already has a publishing deal but has not yet been published?

Extracts or full pieces that are already due to be published are not eligible for this Prize.

Why is Spread the Word running the Prize?

Spread the Word is managing and administrating the Prize as part of our commitment to support talented writers from different backgrounds. Spread the Word has a long history of supporting writers making crucial steps in their career and developing initiatives to support them to do this. The Life Writing Prize will provide energy and further value and profile to the growing life writing scene in the UK.

I have written a piece about my Grandfather’s life and it contains elements of my life in relation to his. Can I submit this?

If your piece weaves your experience or story in with the wider themes, then yes.

I have less than six publishing credits in poetry, fiction or life writing, but I have a significant number of journalism publishing credits online and in print. Can I still enter?

Yes, you can. We recognise that journalism publication credits are different to publishing credits in literary forms.

I have previously lived in the UK but am now based abroad. Can I enter?

Unfortunately not. The competition is open to life writers based in the UK. We want to ensure that those who do well in the competition are supported, and are able to take up the offers available to them, so you do need to be based in the UK to enter.

I was not born in the UK but I now live here. Can I still enter?

Yes, anyone over 18 residing in the UK is welcome to enter, you do not have to have been born here.

Who are the judges for the prize?

The 2017 Life Writing Prize will be judged by Blake Morrison, Margaret Stead and Katy Massey.

Why has the prize been established?

The Prize has been established to:

– Provide a career-changing opportunity to a creative life writer
– Showcase the energy and quality in the life writing sector
– Help aspiring life writers to submit and achieve recognition for their work

How long has the prize been running for?

The Prize was first announced in November 2016. The Prize will run for five years in the first instance.

How is the prize funded?

The Prize is funded by a personal donation from Joanna Munro. Additional support for the Prize comes from its partners: Goldsmiths Writers Centre, Arvon and the Royal Society of Literature.

I’m a publisher or agent. How can I get involved?

We’d love to hear from you. Email laura@spreadtheword.org.uk if you’d like to be involved in the Life Writing Prize.