AUTHORS and publishers are needed to enter new books into Cumbria’s leading literary awards.

The Lakeland Book of the Year Charity Luncheon and Awards Ceremony takes place every summer and is now in its 29th year.

The competitions are open to established authors as well as first-time writers. As long as the books to be entered are about anything to do with Cumbria and are published during 2012, they are eligible to enter. Over 50 books are entered in a typical year, and in excess of 70 books is not uncommon.

The judges have the onerous task of reading all the books and selecting the winners.

Cumbrian author Hunter Davies is chairman of the Judges Panel and the inspiration behind the event.

He has ghost-written a number of high-profile biographies about celebrities such as Wayne Rooney, Paul Gascoigne and John Prescott , as well as acclaimed works about Wordsworth and Wainwright. In 2012 he published a successful new book, with the support of Yoko Ono, about the John Lennon letters.

The panel also includes ITV and BBC newscaster Fiona Armstrong, and Gardner’s Question Time Chairman and Chair of Cumbria Tourism, Eric Robson.

There will be five topical categories, with each one providing a prize of £100. But the real prize is the Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year Award, given to the book judged to be the overall winner.

All prizes will be presented at a charity awards luncheon at Castle Green Hotel, Kendal, on July 2. Over the years, the luncheon has raised many thousands of pounds for local charities and the charity benefitting this year will be announced shortly.

Previous winners of the Lakeland Book of the Year have included Alfred Wainwright in 1985; Vivian Russell in 1990, Harry Griffin in 2000 and Booker Prize nominee Sarah Hall won a category in 2003. Lord Melvyn Bragg was also highly commended in 1988 for his book, the Maid of Buttermere.

Last year’s winner was “Dear Mary, Love Percy” edited by David Cross and Mary Burkett and published by Skiddaw Press, Cockermouth. It is based on correspondence between Mary Burkett and the famous Cumbrian Artist, Percy Kelly, whose letters are beautifully crafted and illustrated in his own inimitable style.

The awards were founded by the Hunter Davies and Cumbria Tourist Board (now Cumbria Tourism). The awards are organised by Chris Tomlinson OBE, Pauline Crossley and Vicky Robinson, with support from Cumbria Tourism.

The deadline for submissions to this year’s competition is March 20th and entry forms are available by emailing or by contacting Cumbria Tourism on 01539 8222222.