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UK small publishers protest Women’s Prize fees

In the UK, a few small publishers have protested the publisher fees charged by the Women’s Prize for Fiction, claiming the the fees are ‘extortionate’ and pose a prohibitive barrier to entry, reports the Bookseller.

In a blog post on the Bookseller website, director of small UK women’s publisher Linen Press Lynn Michell wrote that the £5,000 (A$8289) pre-tax fee charged by the prize for shortlisted titles ‘effectively bars, on grounds of cost not merit, small presses and independent presses who are not funded by the Arts Council or by other means’. Michell added that ‘the cost is more than my annual budget for the next four books in the pipeline’.

Sara-Jayne Slack of micro-press Inspired Quill said she understood why prizes require publishers to pay fees, but said there is a lack of awareness ‘that not all independent publishers are created equal’ and that there is a widening gap between micro-publishers liker herself and Michelle, and small publishers like Salt Publishing, which ‘may have up to twenty employees’.

The Women’s Prize organisers noted that the requirements have not changed in several years. UK publishers are required to pay £5,000 plus VAT if one of their titles is shortlisted and another £5,000 plus VAT if that title wins. Publishers also supply 10 copies of the book if the book is longlisted and 50 copies for promotional purposes if it is shortlisted. Any further books needed for promotion is sold to the prize at a 70% discount.

‘Shortlisting carries real benefits in terms of profile and sales,’ said a spokesperson for the prize, ‘and we believe it represents a fair exchange. We’re always prepared to have a conversation with any publisher for whom this is genuinely prohibitive.’


Category: Awards International news