Now that The Bath Novel Award 2023 has closed to entries, here’s what happens in the run up to the longlist.
First reads are about matchmaking. We begin by considering each book’s readership then teaming manuscripts with the readers who are most likely to enjoy and vote for them. We work with a diverse international team of freelance readers with wide-ranging tastes, including editors, genre experts, library workers and former Bath Novel Awards winning and listed authors.
In the later longlisting rounds, readers vote for the extracts and synopses that swept them away. Throughout the prize submissions are read blind, and all votes are cast privately. The question readers vote YES or NO to is: do this extract and synopsis make you want to read the full?
We like to cast our net as wide it takes and will longlist every book the readers’ votes suggest could win. Over the years, our lists have ranged from 19 to 39 titles strong. Some years a small number of books dominate the readers’ votes with a relatively compact list; in other years the votes are more widely spread resulting in a longer list.
All readers also have the option to award one ‘golden vote’. These are reserved for a standout entry that a reader can’t stop thinking about, the book they would especially love to read in full. Novels which attract one or more golden votes are automatically longlisted alongside the entries which attracted the highest number of ‘regular’ YES votes.
If you’d like to see some of the readers’ voting comments, we will be tweeting extracts from their YES votes in the last couple of days before the longlist is announced. Tweets will be posted @bathnovelaward from 10am BST on June 28th and 29th and will be searchable (or mutable) with the tag #BNA2023. Due to the volume of votes, tweets will be a representative selection of the regular YES comments, plus all the golden votes.
Here are some examples of YES vote tweets
#BNA2018 "Blew me away like nothing I’ve read for the BNA before. I laughed when I read the synopsis because it was written dryly and out of character, as it should be, which made the voice in the MS even more incredible. YES"— The Bath Novel Awards (@BathNovelAward) May 16, 2018
Voting comment for The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Daré, winner of The Bath Novel Award 2018 and published by Hodder in 2020.
#BNA2019 Enticing hooks and suspense from the start – I can hear the silence and the sound of that spade – plus a synopsis full of red herrings and plot twists. YES— The Bath Novel Awards (@BathNovelAward) June 18, 2019
Voting comment for A Ruined Girl by Kate Simants, winner of The Bath Novel Award 2019 and published in 2020 by Viper Books
#BNA2020 Passing between hyper-real narrative in modern Bristol and an ethereal, otherworldly account of a scorched dystopia, this is a intense, hooky set-up reminscent of Murakami. YES— The Bath Novel Awards (@BathNovelAward) June 20, 2020
Voting comment for The Arrow Garden by Andrew J King, winner of The Bath Novel Award 2020 and published in 2023 by Aderyn Press
#BNA2021 Adored the MC voice and the promise of some feathery magical realism. Need to read more. YES— The Bath Novel Awards (@BathNovelAward) June 27, 2021
Voting comment for Remember Mr Sharma by AP Firdaus, winner of The Bath Novel Award 2021 and publishing with Hachette in July 2023.
#BNA2022 I thought this was really wonderful: a beautiful, heartbreaking prologue sets the scene, followed by fluid prose, sparky dialogue, and the promise of a well-drawn plot. A convincingly visceral rendering of the Victorian setting. YES— The Bath Novel Awards (@BathNovelAward) June 29, 2022
Voting comment for Victoriana by Francesca Robbins – BNA2022 winning manuscript signed by Nelle Andrews at Rachel Mills Literary
The Bath Novel Award longlist announcement, including total entry numbers, will be posted on our website at 10am BST on 30th June and will email all entrants a prompt once the announcement is up.
The writers of the longlisted titles will be invited to submit their full manuscripts by 23:59 BST on 2nd July for the final judging stages. Please note we do not notify listed entrants beforehand so make sure your manuscript is ready to go!
Best of luck to all, we can’t wait to read your work.