Get lots of buck if you bang out a few words
Published 02/10/2010 | 05:00
If you're a fiction writer seeking to make a fortune from literary prizes, why waste time on a novel when a short story can be even more lucrative?
Yes, I know that the Man Booker Prize gives £50,000 (€59,000) to its winning novelist and that the Impac Dublin Literary Award offers almost twice that, but you have to come up with hundreds of thousands of words to qualify for either of these, whereas you can make a year's salary penning a few pages.
The Davy Byrnes Literary Award, for instance, bestows €25,000 on its annual winner. Although the critically esteemed and widely read Claire Keegan won it a couple of years ago, entrants don't even have to be published authors -- anyone who lives in, or is a citizen of, Ireland can enter. And there's no word limit, either, though I imagine that anything over, say, 30,000 words might disqualify you.
The rules are narrower for The Sunday Times/EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, which is now in its second year. You must already have had literary work published in either Britain or Ireland, but the reward is commensurately greater -- the winner gets £30,000 (more than €35,000), making it the world's biggest award for a single story.
This year's judges include Melvyn Bragg, AS Byatt and Will Self. The deadline for entries is October 30 and stories must be less than 6,000 words, which means that the winner will receive at least a fiver for every word he or she writes.
Even bank executives might acknowledge that as a good return for one's labour.