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Writing Opportunities 2024

Fern Academy Prize for essays

Closing date: 
23 April 2024
Open to unpublished and unagented writers from around the world. No entry fee
Prize of £3,000; publication with Tortoise Media; literary representation by RCW literary agent Laurence Laluyaux and other prizes

Fern Press and How to Academy have partnered on a new essay award worth £3,000, in association with Tortoise Media, for unpublished authors.

Fern Press was launched by Vintage last year, while the annual non-fiction essay prize is "for those working at the frontier of creativity and thought", organisers said. 

The prize is designed to find and nurture emerging non-fiction talent and will be awarded to an essay of literary merit with an international and multicultural interest. The prize encourages essays that shine a light on the universal human experience - on a micro or macro scale - and "which speak clearly to the times we live in", organisers said. The prize is open to unagented and unpublished writers from around the world, writing in the English language. 

The winning writer will receive: a cash prize of £3,000; publication with Tortoise Media; literary representation by RCW literary agent Laurence Laluyaux; a five-night writing course run by How to Academy's sister company, Unmissable Courses; an appearance on How to Academy's biweekly podcast; and mentorship from a Penguin Random House UKPenguin Random House have more than 50 creative and autonomous imprints, publishing the very best books for all audiences, covering fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, autobiographies and much more. Click for Random House UK Publishers References listing editor. 

The essay should be between 3,000 and 6,000 words. The prize is open to all writers who have not been published by a trade book publisher, including those who have to date only published academic papers and in other media such as magazines, newspapers and online. 

The judges for the prize are writer and publisher Margaret Busby (acting as chair), RCW literary agent Laluyaux, writer Mark O'Connell, Tortoise Media managing editor Keith Blackmore and the Fern Press editorial team. 

The prize will accept submissions between 2nd and 23rd April 2024. A shortlist will be announced in June 2024, with the winner announced at an event later that month. 

Busby, chair of judges, said: "The Fern Academy Prize is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the potential universality of essays, foregrounding a genre of writing that at best is both accessible and multi-dimensional (and which has always been a particular favourite of mine). The time is definitely right to seek out short-form writing capable of opening minds and addressing issues that affect us all." 

Fern Press and How to Academy said:

"In a deeply divided and increasingly polarised world, emerging thinkers, writers and artists have an important and powerful role to play in our navigation and understanding of different perspectives and worlds. This international prize, open to anyone writing in the English language, anywhere in the world, looks to celebrate the essay form and build bridges between analysis and the creative imagination." 

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