As part of as yet undisclosed ‘bigger plans’, prize sponsor drops debut authors’ prize in favour of year-round online promotion

Orange, sponsor of the Orange prize for fiction, has told publishers it has new plans for the prize in 2011, including a year-long digital promotion for new writers. But the £10,000 Orange Award for New Writers, which has run since 2005 and celebrated novelists including Irene Sabatini and Francesca Kay, is to be dropped.

Naomi Li of Orange’s PR representatives M&C Saatchi, said the telecom company’s future plans for book promotion were still partly under wraps, with announcements of “bigger plans” to come later. But she confirmed that Orange intended to expand its Orange Book Club, and feature an online promotion for new writers all year round. “At the moment the Orange Book Club only exists for current Orange customers … It’s hidden away and we haven’t shouted about it,” Li said. “But we’re launching a website at Christmas, and a Facebook group … We’ll sell e-books, and the Orange prize website will be revamped and integrated into the site.”

Li said that new writers would get a push in an online promotion from early 2011, with one first-time author featured each month. “The feedback we’ve got from publishers is that it’s quite difficult to get exposure for first-time writers. This will extend the exposure, because we’ll be able to feature 12 authors rather than the three who are shortlisted for the Award for New Writers at present,” she said.

Publishers said they were being kept guessing about the exact nature of Orange’s plans, but that signs were good. “The Orange prize is fantastically important and the Award for New Writers has been a real landmark so I’m sorry to see it going,” said Virago’s Lennie Goodings. “But Orange have always been amazing, they’ve done more backroom work than any other prize, and on their track record their future plans should be exciting.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds