The Best Writing Competition in Town

Terry Pratchett’s Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now prize has returned for a second year. If you’re writing a novel this is big news! That said, if you want to know more, the official competition page is damnably vague and confusing. But I think I’ve managed to glean the important parts and, to save you the headache it gave me, I’ve decided to share my thoughts here. I’m good like that.

The prize: pretty easy one this: a £20,000 advance against royalties and a publishing contract with Transworld Publishers. Definitely worth entering for.

The deadline: 31st December 2012. That one’s pretty easy too.

The requirements: an entry needs to be:

• a novel between 80,000 and 150,000 words;
• fantasy or science fiction. They aren’t looking for contemporary fiction;
• written by a resident of the UK, Republic of Ireland or British Commonwealth; sorry to anyone who isn’t!

The content: More difficult to determine. There’s a lot of guff in there about alternate Earths (I think that’s thrown in there to confuse people!) but it all seems to boil down to this: the story “must be theoretically possible on some version of the past, present or future of a planet Earth.” This is the muddiest part of the competition. After all, aren’t Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars all theoretically possible? The winners of last year’s competition are described as “A dazzling, tragi-comic tale of childhood wonder, time-travelling poets and theoretical physics” and ” a comedic tale of zombie animals overrunning the UK”. This one’s a judgement call, I’m afraid. Your guess is as good as mine.

The wrinkles: The conditions state that entrants “have not previously had a full length novel written or co authored by them (under any name) published under a valid ISBN”. This means:

• traditionally published authors aren’t allowed to play;
• indie authors who have published in print aren’t allowed to play either;
• indie authors who have published on the Kindle only are eligible as long as they didn’t purchase an ISBN for their work (as Amazon only don’t require one for Kindle publishing).

Anything I’ve missed or got wrong, please let me know. As soon as I’ve finished the first draft of my novel I’ll get started on a Pratchett Prize novel. Let me know if you are too!

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