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New Award

UPDATED AUGUST 14T 2013. “Published books, previously self–‐published books, and unpublished manuscripts are now eligible for the Award. Eligible books and manuscripts can be submitted by publishers registered and operating in the Caribbean OR submitted by authors directly.” Good! This is how I think it should have been all along. See other updates.


UPDATED! May 31st 2013. So, news of opportunities for more Caribbean authors to shine and for more readers to discover their work is good news. I was aware of this award (see details below) before its launch as I was polled in detail for my perspective along with many others I’m sure. When it was officially announced, some of the questions I had lingered and so I thought I’d seek clarification on them from the people behind the award (or the person who had polled me for my perspective) and share the responses (or the portion of those that might be relevant or of interest) with other Caribbean writers. So here goes:

Q. If you have an unpublished manuscript or fresh manuscript with no publisher can that be submitted by the author?

A. After much discussion, we went with a publisher submitted process for all entries whether they be unpublished manuscripts or books. We ask this largely because of the guaranteed purchase. Because we buy and distribute up to 3000 copies of each winning title, we need to be sure that each title will in fact be published, and available in large quantities as soon as possible. We have found that with a publisher behind each submission we know that this is guaranteed. After some experimentation with other methods in the 4 year history of the Award, this is the process we have settled on in all countries with a Burt Award. The main, overriding goal of the Award is to ensure that the books make it into the hands of young readers.

Q. Why are unpublished manuscripts eligible but not self published books?
*This was follow to a concern I’d expressed during the polling that: self publishing is the only viable route for
a fair amount of Caribbean authors…[and] if the book is of a quality (quality is of the utmost important) I think it deserves fair consideration.

A. The needs of the guaranteed purchase also in part explains why we  have made self-published titles ineligible for the Award. Also, since the Award is also meant to encourage both writers AND support the growth of a robust local publishing industry, we have found this to be the best way to go. BUT, since the launch we’ve had lots of queries on this subject (!) so it is something we are looking into for future years of the Award. It seems many more quality works have come out in the Caribbean this way than we have seen anywhere else. (The self-publishing industry is doing much better here, producing higher quality books, than we’ve seen in Canada or Africa, for example). In the meantime, one thing I have been suggesting is for people with self-published works that are  otherwise eligible to approach local publishers who might, as a result of the Award, be interested in the work. Local publishers publishing more YA works by Caribbean authors would be an amazing outcome of the Award! We have a track record of success in that area with the Burt Award, most recently here in Canada where publishers are really taking notice.

Also…the CODE rep wanted to make clear that they have no hand in the selection of the winner –

I’ve also been making the following assurances to all people who contact me about the Award:  While I helped write the guidelines and so can offer advice on them, neither I or anyone at CODE will have any say in which books are submitted to or  deemed eligible by the jury. I won’t even know who submitted works until the jury is completely finished with their adjudication process… It’s important to me to make sure that everyone knows that the judging is a totally independent process.

Finally, I had a question about non-English translations published during the eligibility period of works previously published in English.

A.  All entries submitted must be in English. It is ok if the work is an English translation of a work originally written in another language, but the jury will only be able to accept English entries.



An exciting global initiative in Young Adult literature is coming to the Caribbean!

image001 (2)Launched at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on April 27th, 2013, the Award, established by CODE with the generous support William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation and in partnership with the Bocas Lit Fest, aims to celebrate the literary achievements of Caribbean authors while improving young readers’ access to books that are engaging and meaningful to them.

Part of a growing global initiative, the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature is an annual Award that will be given to three English-language literary works for Young Adults (aged 12 through 18) written by Caribbean authors. A First Prize of $10,000 CAD, a Second Prize of $7,000 CAD and a Third Prize of $5,000 CAD will be awarded to the winning authors. Publishers of winning titles will be awarded a guaranteed purchase of up to 3,000 copies.

Books published between 1 August 2011 and 22 August 2013 and eligible manuscripts must be received by the judging panel from publishers by 23 August 2013.

Winners will be announced at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad and Tobago in April 2014.


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