During lockdown, the power of a book is even more profound

Grace French
Written by Grace French

Tags: fiction Lockdown Prize reading Women

In our second year working with the prestigious Women’s Prize for Fiction, we’ve found ourselves pitching the story to the press in amongst an incredibly unpredictable and competitive media landscape. Headlines are rightfully dominated by news around the ever-evolving coronavirus pandemic, and media outlets are increasingly offering support and guidance to the public on how to navigate our temporary ‘new normal’.

In this astounding landscape we find ourselves in, more and more people in lockdown are turning to the power of a book for comfort, escapism, and inspiration. Our strategic thought for the Women’s Prize for Fiction focuses on communicating how books written by women are for everyone, so we knew that this year more than ever, it was vital for these fantastic books to reach as many people as possible.

We announced the 2020 shortlist on 21st April, in the Prize’s 25th anniversary year. We were determined to cut through the noise with a quality and diverse list of books that readers could truly benefit from during this challenging time. With a digital shortlist announcement taking the place of an event due to the lockdown, we changed tack and left no stone unturned during our media sell in. We developed and shared a visually rich media package and offered in-depth interviews with chair of Judges Martha Lane Fox, and with the shortlisted authors.

The moment Martha Lane Fox took to twitter to announce the shortlist in a video broadcast, the shortlist was discussed in detail on BBC Front Row. The launch secured over 311 dedicated hits across broadcast, print and online including 23 national, 12 consumer and 263 regional – and counting. Achieving our strategic goal of reaching new audiences, we secured numerous hits in new publications for the Prize including The Sun and SheerLuxe..

With the winner’s announcement rescheduled till 9thSeptember, we’ll be spending the next few months amplifying the shortlist – and curled up on our sofas working our way through the books ourselves!

The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 shortlist:

  • Dominicana by Angie Cruz
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell
  • Weather by Jenny Offill

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