With the Man Booker Prize winner announced tonight, my fingers are crossed for Washington Black, although I’d raise a cheer for either of the other contenders I’ve reviewed (The Mars Room and Milkman). Right now, my thoughts are also with those authors who not only don’t succeed in dazzling the judges, but don’t even get the chance to step onto the stage.
You’re familiar with those email scams, aren’t you? Congratulations, you’ve won a prize! Just send us a cheque to cover administration costs, and we’ll deliver it. Feels good, doesn’t it? Until you wonder whether the winnings will cover your fees. But that wouldn’t happen in the literary world, would it? Awards are dispensed purely on merit, surely? No paying for prizes there?
As Charles Boyle, publisher of Murmur, blogged recently, some prodigious prizes are simply beyond the budget of the small independent press. Most chillingly, even if they remortgage the house and/or scrabble between the sofa cushions for the funds, they’re unlikely to recoup the outlay in increased sales.
It’s sad, but not really surprising to anyone who’s noticed we live in a winner-takes-all world. Blessed be the rich, for they will inherit the assets of the majority, or whatever it was that Jesus-guy didn’t say. Fortunately, some prizes are more democratic, so I am particularly grateful to Polari for shortlisting my debut novel at a cost of only one print copy for each of the five judges.
Short story prizes are fortunately more accessible, perhaps because only a few, such as the BBC Short Story Award, have much clout. Nevertheless, with submission fees approaching €20 in some cases, multiple entries can be a gamble with odds as poor as roulette. So it’s essential we celebrate our successes, however small.
While winning the Flash Fiction Rodeo might just about buy you a burger and/or a book, it’s no cost to enter. All you need is a bit of imagination and access to the internet to submit. So why not saddle up? Even if you don’t gain the $25, you’ve practised your writing skills. What’s not to like?
Thanks to all readers and reviewers who support those authors and publishers priced out of some prizes. As a tiny token of my appreciation, I’ll be randomly selecting one of the subscribers to my author email – and if you’re not signed up, you can do so here – to receive a signed copy of my anthology (anywhere in the world).
My apologies to anyone who’s experienced technical problems with my blog recently. The bouncer hanging around the comments doorway has been getting above himself, putting random visitors to a ‘spot the staircase’ test (which he makes extra dastardly by failing to show the full instructions) and/or suggesting there’s been an error in submission. However, he’s all bluster and you can easily dismiss him by tapping the screen. Until he’s completed his retraining in customer care, it’s probably worth saving your comment (the easiest way being to press CONTROL A followed by CONTROL V) or take the conversation somewhere he can’t follow us like my contact page (and I’ll pull rank on the bouncer to enter it in a comment) or Twitter. Thanks for your patience – if you still have any that is!