Just how many book prizes can you cope with? The Booker is the big one, of course, then there’s the Baileys and a whole raft of Costa awards and prizes. And now for the past two years we’ve had a new major prize, the Folio.
Books need all the help they can get in a crowded competitive market where publishers’ margins are tight and e-books confuse the picture. But don’t you become a little weary? Don’t you feel enough is enough? There’s talk of yet another big one for the UK only. We can’t read them all, of course. If we have time on our hands we could just manage the short lists, but, be honest, how many of us do? So the winner is announced and it’s great news for one author and one publisher and a bit of a push in sales for the rest of the short list. But what is the overall effect on the market? Positive, I hear publishers say. But for how long and at what point will it all become counter productive? Questions, questions, and since I don’t work in the marketing department of a publishing house perhaps I have mistaken ideas. But I do talk to a lot of people who buy and read books and some of us feel beleaguered by the onslaught of yet another long list.
The Folio long list has eighty titles! This will be reduced to eight on February 9th. The winner is announced in March. I’ve read a few of them and can eagerly recommend Lost For Words by Edward St Aubyn, published by Picador. Daisy’s pick is Virginia Woolf in Manhattan by Maggie Gee, published by Telegraph Books. But to give any sort of proper opinion we would have to read the lot!
We would welcome your views on any of the eighty you have read. See them on the Folio Prize website.
I don’t want to seem a curmudgeon. It’s really tough to make any money out of fiction. Even well known authors struggle, apart from the obvious exceptions, too obvious to mention! A few hundred pounds in royalties or even a few thousand in compensation for a year or two of slog and the obstacle course to find an agent and then a publisher. You can only write for love.
So good luck to everyone and seasonal cheer to all publishers chasing cash flow. Warm wishes to all prize judges and the Folio long list authors.