Before the longlist

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

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.


Voting comment for A Ruined Girl by Kate Simants, winner of The Bath Novel Award 2019 and published in 2020 by Viper Books

Voting comment for The Arrow Garden by Andrew J King, winner of The Bath Novel Award 2020 and published in 2023 by Aderyn Press

Voting comment for Remember Mr Sharma  by AP Firdaus, winner of The Bath Novel Award 2021 and  publishing with Hachette in July 2023. 

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.