An annual prize jointly presented by Morley College London and the Rachel Mills Literary Agency, awarded to a previously unpublished aspiring authors of colour. The prize is intended to nurture and provide opportunities for aspiring novelists of colour, promote diverse fiction across the broader literary landscape of Britain and continue Morley College’s long history of educational excellence, community engagement, and support for social justice.We are delighted to annouce that for 2022, as well as being open for works of fiction, we are now broadening the scope to include Life Writing and Creative Non fiction. For this new added component, we would ask that all writing should have some kind of personal story-telling element but the scope itself is unlimited. Think anything from Roxanne Gay, or Renni Eddo Lodge, to Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, or Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.
Prize co-founder Nelle Andrew, Literary Agent at RML and Agent of the Year at the British Book Awards 2021 says:
“The illustrious, wise and supremely talented Toni Morrison once wrote: “If you are free then you need to free somebody else. If you have power then it is your job to empower somebody else.”
My name is Nelle Andrew and, as a Literary Agent who is also a woman of colour, I have made my way in the world when those who looked like me and had the same background as me were few and far between. I am thrilled to say that this is no longer the case (although in my opinion, publishing still has a way to go before the balance is completely achieved).
One of the most exciting parts my job is to find exciting new talent, empower arresting new voices and advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. I have had the privilege to work with many people from across many backgrounds in my career, and now with the help of Morley College, this is the latest initiative in which I hope to achieve that ambition Toni Morrison advocated so many years ago.
The Morley Prize for Unpublished Writers of Colour is a brilliant opportunity to source talent and give a platform to incredible new voices who may not have had the exposure or encouragement to enter the Publishing Industry and talent pool before. Sponsored by Rachel Mills Literary, the prize seeks to encourage anyone who is has not been published, and is not agented regardless of age or experience, to submit either an extract of a novel whether it is unfinished or finished for the chance to win an insight and editorial feedback from myself as well as prize money for the best piece of work from an author of a BME background.
The winner will receive a £500 prize, but the real reward here is that those shortlisted will be given individual editorial consultations with an agent on their work, and the chance to ask any questions about the agent/editorial process and how to secure an agent – opportunities available to very few budding authors, but advice and connections which for those without access might mean the difference in achieving a career as a writer.
The aim of this prize is to discover and empower the next pool of talent from diverse British backgrounds to continue and reignite the rich cultural history we have of diverse authors who defined and distinguished the writing cannon of authors from Octavia E Spencer to Zadie Smith; from Andrea Levy to Sara Collins and Candice Carty-Williams.
Whether this is a long held dream or a recent aspiration, we encourage you to enter. We cannot wait to discover you.”
To enter this prize with a work of fiction, you will need to submit a manuscript of the first 30 pages of an original novel, as well as a 3-page maximum outline summarising the rest of the book.
To enter with a work of non-fiction, you will need to submit a detailed summary of the work of not more than 30 pages, including a table of contents and a coherent 3,000 word writing sample.
Manuscripts should be submitted in MS Word document or PDF, in Times New Roman font, size 12, 1.5 spaced.
Filenames and title pages should include the applicant’s name and the title of the work.
Short fiction, poetry and works written for children (including YA) are not eligible for entry into this prize.
Only one submission per applicant is permitted.
The submission must not, in whole or part, have been previously published, including print, ebook, self-publishing or web-publishing.
Manuscripts may be submitted under a pseudonym, but the applicant’s legal name should be included in the application itself to ensure compliance with the prize rules.
Morley College and RML do not assert any copyright claim whatsoever over any works submitted for this prize, which remain the property of the author.
Unsuccessful applicants from previous years may resubmit works to subsequent years, but we expect that resubmissions will have been substantially revised in the intervening year.
All entries will receive an email confirming receipt within a week of submission. If you do not receive one, please contact us as your submission may have been incorrectly flagged by our spam filters. All entrants will be notified by email of whether their submission was successful or not on the release of the prize longlist.
In accordance with its ambition to improve access and diversity in publishing and British literature this prize is intended for unpublished writers of colour, a term defined in accordance with the terminology style guide of the Office of National Statistics as being a person of Asian, Asian British / Arab / Black, African, Caribbean or Black British / Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups, or other marginalised ethnic groups.
To be eligible an applicant must:
1) Be over the age of 18
2) Be resident in the UK or Republic of Ireland for the duration of the prize.
3) Have not previously had a novel or novella published, including self-publishing and e-publishing.
4) Not be signed with an agent at the time of application.
Applications require a personal statement of not more than 300 words for fiction and 500 words for non-fiction. Please explain in this statement your eligibility for this prize against the criteria above. For non-fiction please also include a statement on why you chose to write on this particular subject. These should be attached to the final page of your entry, not send as separate files.
Any confusion over eligibility is subject to the judges’ discretion. The decisions of the judging panel are final.
Please note that apart from those listed above, the prize places no restriction on a submission’s subject, style or setting. Entries are welcome from any genre, and there is no obligation for entries to be centred on or address the experiences of people of colour – these decisions are entirely up to the author. Judges will make selections based on their perceptions of the quality of the work, and not specifically on its subject.
5th May 2022 – Applications open
29th July 2022 – Applications close
1st September 2022 – Longlist announced
1st October 2022 – Shortlist announced
20th October 2022 – Prize-giving event
· Short-listed applications will receive a certificate, an invitation (+1) to the prize launch, a digital advice session with a literary agent, and the opportunity to exhibit an extract of their work online and as part of the Cardew Gallery exhibition.
· The winner will receive the above shortlist prizes, and in addition £500, an award certificate, a discount voucher for a Morley College course of their choice, and a free manuscript review and one-hour in person meeting with a professional literary agent from RML, as well as an appearance on Pamela R. Haynes’s Island Girls podcast to discuss their work.
· The prize does not guarantee representation for the winner or for short-listed applicants. Offers of representation will be entirely at the discretion of RML.
· Shortlisted authors, including the winner, may be required to participate in limited promotional activities for the prize, such as contributing to a blog or podcast episode, and the prize should be acknowledged in any shortlisted works subsequently published.
APPLICATIONS FOR 2022 OPEN ON 5th MAY
To apply, simply send a an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This email should include your name and the word “application” in the subject line. The application should include an attachment containing your manuscript pages or summary, and a personal statement of no more than 300/500 words which explains your eligibility for the prize, as laid out in the Submissions Guidelines above.
Please send any enquiries or questions to the same address.