GET WRITING. GET PUBLISHED. GET READ. The World Readers’ Award is a new type of book prize for a new reading public. And with its revolutionary, forward-looking format, it’s an award well worth winning. Entry is easy, and the prize is attractive: publication by a “real” publisher.
Of course, not every writer can win. But every writer can get the powerful benefits of having an incentive, a deadline, an opportunity, a focus, and a solid reason to sit down and write the story they’ve always wanted to write.
- This prize is for everyone. Unlike most contests, we don’t exclude you because of your nationality. Each contest has a cultural theme, and the identities of the people in your story world qualifies it for entry.
- This prize is for stories we'll all enjoy reading. Unlike most prizes, the final decisions will not be made by professors who dominate most judging panels, but by readers.
- This prize is for writers of this generation. We don’t mind if you write stories on paper, or your computer, on a tablet, or on your phone: a story is a story.
- This prize is for popular writing. We wouldn’t stop adults reading The Hunger Games or teenagers reading Haruki Murakami. So although this is a book prize for adults, if your story is in the Young Adult area, send it in anyway.
- This prize is your stepping stone. Winners will receive a contract to have their work published both in physical form and in e-book form by recognized publishers.
This prize is easy to enter. Sign up and we’ll keep you informed. Full details will be announced at the meeting of the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Association in October 2013. The opening theme is an easy one: East Meets West, so you can start thinking of your story now.
Who’s behind this?
The organizing group is the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Association, which is based in China and Australia. Our members come from all areas of literature, from writers to translators to publishers to literary scholars to creative writing teachers and so on. Our members range from rising stars such as Jeet Thayil to legendary masters such as JM Coetzee. You can learn more about the group by using the links on the right.
You’re based in China? So is censorship an issue?
No. Our Asia office is in Hong Kong, which doesn’t have the censorship problems of mainland China.
Why is it called the WORLD Readers Award when you guys are based in Asia Pacific?
English is the world’s biggest language for books, and Asia Pacific is the world’s biggest market for English language books. It’s also a place where the number of people who read things—books, newspapers, e-books—continues to climb steadily, to the delight of publishers everywhere. These factors and other make this a natural location for a world book award. Four billion out of the world’s seven billion people live in Asia. For more on this point, click this sentence.
What if I don’t live in Asia or have any connection with it?
No problem. We set a theme for each competition, choosing parts of the world which are under-featured in the world of popular literature. So for example, the theme might be “South Asia” or “Diaspora” or “Australasia”. It will be the story location and/ or the cultural identity of the key characters which will make your book eligible for entry. The first theme is "East Meets West".
I’m not sure if I really get it about the themes.
Put it this way. The world’s bookshops are overflowing with crime novels set in the UK and geopolitical thrillers set in the US. The vast majority of the world’s readers live outside those two countries and are waiting for stories that are written for them. We'll choose themes that fix this imbalance. Everybody benefits, from readers to publishers to the global zeitgeist.
Is there a cash prize?
Prize details are still being worked out, but writers have told us that they would prefer publication by a recognized publisher than a cash sum. We’re cool with that.
Who’s the publisher?
Can’t say yet.
Will it make me rich and famous?
Get real. This is the book industry. You want money, go be a banker or a doctor or plumber or pretty much anything else.
Will it make me famous?
Not everyone wins, as mentioned above. But it’ll be a worthwhile step in your career if you win, or even if you just make it to the shortlist. Writers tell us that just having the incentive to get their books finished is worth it in itself. The people organizing this have experience with lots of other sizeable literary awards, and we’ve seen how it helps everyone involved, from first-time entrants to the winners.
What if my book has already been published?
We also have a prize for best published book of the year. More on that later.
Why is it a “readers” prize?
At a meeting in 2012, our members said they were fed up of the fact that the white-haired professors who usually dominate book prize panels so often choose books that were perfectly suited to white-haired professors who usually dominate book prize panels. We strongly believe a story can be a high quality piece of writing AND a wonderfully enjoyable, transformative read at the same time. A book doesn’t have to be elitist to be a good book.
What do you get out of it? Why are you doing this? Is there going to be some fat entry fee?
No. We're just a group of people who like a good story, and think there are great storytellers everywhere, not just in the obvious places, such as the UK, Hollywood, etc. We're trying to fix this imbalance. But we are volunteers with ultra-busy day jobs, so be patient with us.
When can I enter?
Details will be released at a summit of Asia Pacific writers and translators in October 2013 in Thailand. Wait for the news release, or get on our email list (see the link at the side), or book a place at the summit.
Do I have to be a member of your organization to enter?
I am a member of your organization. Can I still enter?
If you're directly involved with organizing this prize, no. Otherwise, yes.
So what should I do now?
Get on the email list. Then brew a cup of hot chocolate, stare out of the window, and start dreaming up your story.
(Credits: Faces in image at top of this page, clockwise, by Imagicity, Mark Fischer, Clarobuk and es.studio, used under a Creative Commons 3.0 license.)