Manchester Metropolitan University is launching a new international prize for novellas that is aimed squarely at e-reader users in search of good short reads.

The MMU Novella Award, established by the Department of Contemporary Arts at the University’s Cheshire campus, partnered by Sandstone Press and Time to Read, will reward the winning entrant with a £1,000 cash prize.

Sandstone Press, who have twice had titles long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, will publish the winning novella, which must be between 20,000 and 40,000 words long. Diana Beaumont of Rupert Heath Literary Agency will give serious consideration to offering the winning author representation.

“The short novel is experiencing a renaissance at the moment. It’s ideal for book lovers who are on the move and using tablets and e-readers,” said Robert Graham, Creative Writing Programme Leader at MMU Cheshire.

Robert Davidson, Managing Director of Sandstone Press said, “The novella is a form that has given us such classic works as Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain and Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Sandstone Press is proud to be MMU’s partner in this fine project.”

Novelist Jenn Ashworth, author of A Kind of Intimacy and Cold Light, will lead the judging panel. The Sunday Times described Jenn’s latest book as “Utterly, compulsively readable. The Friday Gospels could be this award-winning young author’s best novel yet.”

Jane Mathieson, coordinator of Time To Read, a partnership between twenty-two library authorities in the North West, said, “Novellas can get lost on library shelves, so this gives us an opportunity to bring them to the attention of readers. We will also be supporting entrants to the competition by hosting a series of writing workshops. It’s exciting to be in at the start of something new.”

The winner of the award will be announced at a one-day Novella Festival, held at MMU’s Cheshire campus in July 2014, where there will also be readings, talks and panel discussions.

The closing date for the competition is 23 May 2014.