At Cornerstones, we’re committed to the writer’s cause. We truly believe every story matters, and are here to help passionate authors develop and share stories of their own, whether that’s through a manuscript assessment, mentoring, or a phone consultation. Our open submissions policy means that our team works with authors from a variety of backgrounds: traditionally/self- published, unpublished, debut, seasoned, international, low-income, young, elderly, etc., but we do receive the rare queries related to the writing and publishing processes that we simply aren’t able to assist with. On these occasions, we refer writers to the Society of Authors (SoA).
The SoA was founded in 1884, and defines itself as a ‘trade union for all types of writers, illustrators, and literary translators, at all stages of their careers’. The Society has over 10,000 members, and is an incredibly valuable resource for published and unpublished writers alike; in addition to offering free guidance to its members, the SoA strives to uphold the reputation and righteousness of the profession through lobbying, and also offers financial support to authors in need.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Paula Johnson, Head of Prizes and Awards at the SoA, to discuss the range of financial assistance available to authors. Paula explained that the SoA administers most of its funding to authors through grants and prizes, which I’ve outlined below.
The SoA offers two main types of grants: some for work-in-progress novels, and some for established authors irrespective of the project they’re currently working on.
– The Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust grants are administered biannually to published authors who have been commissioned by or are likely to secure a contract with a British publisher. These grants are intended to help authors with the costs of research, travel, day-to-day living costs while writing and other writing-related expenditure.
– The K Blundell Trust offers funding to British fiction or non-fiction authors under the age of 40 whose work aims to increase social awareness. The Authors’ Foundation provides grants to assist established authors, alongside specific named grants for writing in the following fields: biography about women, the environment and natural history, philanthropy, poetry, racial understanding, Scandinavia, science fiction, theatre, fantasy and magical realism (open to adult and children’s writers), spy thrillers, and crime.
– There is also the SoA’s Contingency Fund, which provides financial assistance on a rolling basis to professional authors who find themselves in trying circumstances i.e. unexpected household expenses, a broken computer, etc. These grants are awarded to help authors personally and are not to be contributed to specific writing projects (see above).
“Assessors always appreciate knowing details, so if you need to fund the particular research costs for a project or to buy writing time, do tell us things like the timescale you are proposing and general costs for journeys and what you are researching where.”
Paula Johnson, Head of Prizes and Awards
The SoA also administers prizes and awards ‘to celebrate authors of all genres at every stage of their careers’. There are two categories in particular that prospective authors and Cornerstones clients might want to explore further: the Authors Awards for fiction and non-fiction writers.
– There are a wide range of Authors Awards that fiction writers are eligible to apply for. The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are awarded for debut novels from writers under the age of 35, and are open to published and unpublished novels. Novels must be traditional or romantic in style (not experimental), and the prize money must be used for foreign travel. The Tom Gallon Trust Award is for a traditional short story written by a writer who has had at least one short story published. The McKitterick Prize is open to authors over the age of 40 for a first novel, published or unpublished. Lastly, writers aged 60 or over who have recently published their first book are eligible to apply for The Paul Torday Prize via their publishers. The SoA are also administering the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019.
– Fiction and non-fiction authors can apply via their publishers to both The Somerset Maugham Awards and The Sunday Times/PF+D Young Writer of the Year Award. The former is awarded to British writers under the age of 35 for a published work of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, whilst the latter is awarded to a British or Irish author (18-35 years old) for a published or self-published work of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.
Funds and prizes are open to application by both members and non-members of the SoA. For further information, or to apply for any of the above, please visit the Society of Authors.
We would also strongly recommend the following organisations for guidance and assistance for authors: The Royal Literary Fund, Royal Society of Literature, ALCS, Arts Council, Turn2us, and British Library PLR. Please do comment below if you feel we should add more resources to the list!