Profile and Aitken Alexander create academics’ non-fiction prize


Profile Books and Aitken Alexander have launched the Profile Aitken Alexander Non-Fiction Prize, awarded to the best debut trade non-fiction proposal from an academic.

The new award features a £25,000 advance and a deal with Profile; shortlisted entrants will receive support from Aitken Alexander agents. Submissions must be a 3,000 to 4,000 word outline or essay setting out the intended subject, argument and approach for a non-fiction trade book, to be submitted by 30th April.

The winner and two runners-up will be selected by a panel of judges that includes Ed Lake, editorial director at Profile Books, Chris Wellbelove, recently appointed director at Aitken Alexander, Matthew Reisz, books editor at Times Higher Education, historian and professor Margaret MacMillan and mathematician and author Eugenia Cheng.  The winner and runners-up will be announced in October 2019.

The competition is open to those with a PhD or an equivalent qualification, graduate-level lecturers in a University or College, and senior researchers at an institute or think-tank. The submission must be for an author’s first trade non-fiction book and must be focused on an area in which the entrant holds a post-graduate qualification.

The deal follows recent reports signaling a shift in the non-fiction market with “more intelligent” titles on the rise, and greater emphasis on non-fiction titles, while Ebury announced earlier this month the creation of two narrative non-fiction hubs.

Lake (pictured) said: “This prize is designed to spot the non-fiction stars of the future – the thinkers, explorers, researchers and communicators who can explain the world, and in so doing change it, one reader at a time.”

Wellbelove added: “Whether or not we’re in an ‘Age of Experts’, the last few years have shown that there is continuing appetite among readers for good and original ideas, engagingly expressed. UK institutions are full of talented academics working on such ideas, and we are delighted to be launching this prize with Profile to find them.”

Judge Matthew Reisz said: “It is always fascinating when academics manage to bring serious scholarship to a wider readership by writing a trade book. I look forward to learning more about some of the rising stars this prize is bound to uncover.”

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