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Arts, Innovation

The Bracken Bower Prize

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Overview

2016 winner

Nora Rosendahl, Mental Meltdown

Finalists

• Scott Hartley for ‘The Fuzzy and the Techie’

• Igor Pejic for ‘Blockchain Babel’

• Nora Rosendahl for ‘Mental Meltdown’

View excerpts from the proposals

About the Prize

The Financial Times and McKinsey & Company, organisers of the Business Book of the Year Award, want to encourage young authors to tackle emerging business themes. They hope to unearth new talent and encourage writers to research ideas that could fill future business books of the year. A prize of £15,000 will be given for the best book proposal.

The prize will be awarded to the best proposal for a book about the challenges and opportunities of growth. The main theme of the proposed work should be forward-looking. 

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fallback Add to my Calendar 09/30/2016 00:00:0009/30/2016 00:00:00falseThe Bracken Bower Prize2016 winnerNora Rosendahl, Mental MeltdownFinalists• Scott Hartley for ‘The Fuzzy and the Techie’• Igor Pejic for ‘Blockchain Babel’• Nora Rosendahl for ‘Mental Meltdown’View excerpts from the proposalsAbout the PrizeThe Financial Times and McKinsey & Company, organisers of the Business Book of the Year Award, want to encourage young authors to tackle emerging business themes. They hope to unearth new talent and encourage writers to research ideas that could fill future business books of the year. A prize of £15,000 will be given for the best book proposal.The prize will be awarded to the best proposal for a book about the challenges and opportunities of growth. The main theme of the proposed work should be forward-looking. The-Bracken-Bower-Prize979d7360aec49763e331264c4eaa7ae9MM/DD/YYYY

Register Your Interest in Bracken Bower Prize

Register Your Interest

Extended Overview

The Financial Times and McKinsey & Company, organisers of the Business Book of the Year Award, want to encourage young authors to tackle emerging business themes. They hope to unearth new talent and encourage writers to research ideas that could fill future business books of the year. A prize of £15,000 will be given for the best book proposal.

The prize will be awarded to the best proposal for a book about the challenges and opportunities of growth. The main theme of the proposed work should be forward-looking. In the spirit of the Business Book of the Year, the proposed book should aim to provide a compelling and enjoyable insight into future trends in business, economics, finance or management. The judges will favour authors who write with knowledge, creativity, originality and style and whose proposed books promise to break new ground, or examine pressing business challenges in original ways.
The Bracken Bower Prize is named after Brendan Bracken who was chairman of the FT from 1945 to 1958 and Marvin Bower, managing director of McKinsey from 1950 to 1967, who were instrumental in laying the foundations for the present day success of the two institutions. This prize honours their legacy but also opens a new chapter by encouraging young writers and researchers to identify and analyse the business trends of the future.

Only writers who are under 35 on November 22 2016 (the day the prize will be awarded) are eligible. They can be a published author, but the proposal itself must be original and must not have been previously submitted to a publisher.

The proposal should be no longer than 5,000 words – an essay or an article that conveys the argument, scope and style of the proposed book – and must include a description of how the finished work would be structured, for example, a list of chapter headings and a short bullet-point description of each chapter. In addition entrants should submit a biography, emphasising why they are qualified to write a book on this topic. The best proposals will be published on FT.com. Co-authored entries are welcome.

The organisers cannot guarantee publication of any book by the winners or runners-up. The finalists will be invited to the November 22 dinner where the Bracken Bower Prize will be awarded alongside the Business Book of the Year Award, in front of an audience of publishers, agents, authors and business figures. Once the finalists’ entries appear on FT.com, authors will be free to solicit or accept offers from publishers.

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2016 Judges

  • Vindi Banga, Partner, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice
  • David Young, Former chief executive, Orion Publishing Group
  • Isabel Fernandez-Mateo, Adecco associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship, London Business School
  • Jorma Ollila, Chairman, Outokumpu, and former chairman Royal Dutch Shell and Nokia
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Entry Guidelines

Format

● no longer than 5000 words

● essay article with the argument, scope and style of the proposed book

● a description of the finished work’s structure

● for example: a list of chapter headings with a short bullet-point description of each chapter

Content

● tackle emerging business themes

● identify and analyse the trends of the future in business, economics, finance or management

● focus on the challenges and opportunities of growth

● examine pressing business challenges in original ways

Author

● must be under 35 on November 22 2017

● can be a published author

● the proposal itself must be original, not previously submitted to a publisher

● submit a biography

● co-authored submissions are welcomed

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Advice from the FT's Andrew Hill

As one of the FT and McKinsey team that filters Bracken Bower Prize entries for our judges, I’m always pleasantly surprised by the overall quality - and I’m delighted a number of our finalists have managed to land publishing deals. Still, there are few do’s and don’ts worth bearing in mind:

DO give the judges a flavour of the book. Outline how the whole work would hang together, but try to write your proposal in the style that you would adopt, rather than in bullet points.

DO write as much as you can. Brevity is a virtue, but in this case you would be better writing 4,999 words than sending a few short paragraphs.

DO submit a book proposal - not a business idea or an advertisement for your company. This is not the place to get your business plan noticed.

DO think about the title - but DON’T agonise over it. Judges will look at the whole proposal. There are no extra points for a clever title. It will probably change if your book makes it to publication.

DO make your biography relevant. The judges don’t need your life story, but if you’ve done something that makes you particularly well qualified to write this book, make sure you include it.

DON’T miss the deadline. Some of our finalists admit they filed their successful entries with seconds to spare - like good journalists - but there are no extensions.

DON’T copy. We run longlisted entries through an automated check for plagiarism. Quotations are fine, but the computer won’t swallow large chunks of undigested text from elsewhere.

DON’T write in a foreign language. The optimist who decided submitting his proposal in Russian would catch the judges’ eye was sorely mistaken. English only, please.

DO have fun. Remember that we are looking for proposals for books that are “compelling and enjoyable”.

Andrew Hill is the FT management editor and helps organise the Bracken Bower Prize and the Business Book of the Year Award.

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Photos 2016

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To view photos of the Business Book of the Year Award, click here.

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2015 Finalist Jonathan Hillman

Every writer craves two things: an idea worth sharing and an audience willing to listen. Comparatively speaking, the idea is the easy part. Big ideas spring from disasters, triumphs, and everyday events. They’re discovered through personal experience, conversations with colleagues, and fresh looks at the past. But good audiences are not so easily found. This is particularly true for young writers, who in the stampede for attention, are often the first to get trampled.  

That’s why the Bracken Bower Prize is the rarest of invitations. Your audience is an expert panel that’s forgotten more about business, writing, and the business of writing, than most of us will ever know. Making it to the shortlist brings credibility to your idea, and with it, the opportunity for other audiences. As a finalist, you meet leaders at FT and McKinsey who are genuinely interested in giving young writers a shot. For aspiring writers, the potential upside is not simply a springboard, but a rocket ship.

It’s been a remarkable ride since last year’s contest. Andrew Hill generously mentioned my proposal in his column on strategic quitting. FT readers sent notes of encouragement and insight. A talented team at Javelin, an agency in Washington, DC, helped me sharpen the proposal. And two days ago, my idea reached an entirely new audience: publishers. Whatever comes next, the contest has already delivered more than I could have expected.

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2015 Finalist Irene Sun

A year ago, publishing a book was still one of my pipe dreams: a furtive idea I hesitated to share beyond my family and a handful of close friends. I was an aspiring first time author, with no name recognition, no ‘platform’ (as they say in the industry), no agent, and no publisher.

I still don’t have the first two, but the Bracken Bower Prize did a lot to get me the latter two. As one editor I met put it, “Recognition by the FT is literally the best thing that could happen to you” as an unknown first-time author.

When I emailed agents with the news that I was a Bracken Bower Prize finalist, all of a sudden, multiple agents read my proposal within the next three days. The night of the Bracken Bower Prize ceremony, I met Howard Yoon, who was attending because he was the agent for one of the FT-McKinsey Business Books of the Year finalists. He instinctively understood what I was trying to do with my book, and I liked that he was as demanding about the quality of my writing as the quality of my ideas.

I spent the next few months reworking the proposal with Howard’s help. When we submitted to publishers, Harvard Business Review Press stood out. The editor there, Jeff Kehoe, not only ‘got it’ from the ideas standpoint, but also was enthusiastic about elevating the quality of ideas out there about Africa, China, and the non-Western world more generally. HBRP’s core audience was exactly the one that I am trying to reach, and I was also drawn to its strength across multiple media types.

The months following have been filled with writing, researching, rewriting, and more rewriting. Most days, I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. But now I have an amazing editor and agent by my side, and for that, I have the Bracken Bower Prize to thank.

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2014 Winner Saadia Zahidi

My first reaction on hearing that I had been selected as winner of the inaugural FT / McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize for my book proposal Womenomics in the Muslim World was surprise. After all, I had only decided to submit the proposal three days before the deadline and I was in no way convinced that I would be able to capture the judges’ imagination, or persuade them there was even enough material for a book in the first place.

But then I realised I had been writing this book subconsciously for most of my life; from growing up in Pakistan and seeing first-hand the potential of “womenomics” to my current work at the World Economic Forum leading gender, education and employment initiatives.

All those years in between of research, brainstorming and project work provided the background to the work I did in those three days. So my second emotion was pride. Not only did winning the prize provide valuable funding for the project, it also validated the idea itself and gave me the confidence to devote time to seeing it through to completion.

I’ve been reflecting on this a lot as I near the end of the writing process, and as prospective authors reach out for advice. As somebody that can lay no claim on being either a professional journalist, academic or author (on the contrary I love my day job and agonise whenever I take time off from it) the best advice I have been able to give is to rely on one’s passion and knowledge to get through those inevitable hard days when the task at hand has felt insurmountable.

My journey has been one of great learning from a world of agents, publishers and editors that I hadn’t previously known existed and from 200-plus interviews to help make sense of the data. I’ve also learned the value of the kindness of friends, mentors and strangers, without whose support I may well have lost sight of the bigger prize: that my book may one day, in its own small way, help women in the Muslim world transform their lives and the lives of others.

Saadia Zahidi’s book, Forty Million Rising, will be launched in May 2017, published by Nation Books.

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CONTACT US

Abigail Lewis
Media Partner and Press Enquiries
Financial Times