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26th October 2020

Spotlight: #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize

Aileen Loftus explains how this years #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize will work
Spotlight: #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize
The HarperCollins Author Academy trains and supports writers from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds

#Merky Books is a new imprint within Penguin Random House UK, curated by Stormzy. It launched with his first book Rise Up in November 2018 and set up the #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize last year.  

#Merky Books is aimed at giving publishing opportunities to writers ‘from under-represented communities’, which includes writers of colour, black writers, queer writers and more.

The #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize is open to young, underrepresented, and unpublished writers from across the UK and ROI. The imprint is designed as a home for a new generation of voices, with focus on supporting younger writers.  It is specified, entrants must be aged 16 to 30 and apply before the deadline on Friday 30th October 2020

The competition is asking for a 200 word synopsis and 1,500 word extract from a work of fiction and non-fiction. For poetry, a 200 word synopsis and 500 word extract. They accept only one submission per author.

Writers who are shortlisted or longlisted will received personalised one-on-one feedback on their work from one of the #Merky Books editors.

All longlisted writers will be announced on Monday 14th December 2020. Between 30-50 writers will be longlisted in total. All shortlisted writers will be announced on Friday 5th February 2021, with just 5-10 shortlisted.

Shortlisted authors will be asked to submit their full manuscript for review by the judges by Wednesday 10th February 2021.

Stormzy: “I know too many talented writers that don’t always have an outlet or a means to get their work seen. Hopefully #Merky Books can now be a reference point for them to say “I can be an author”


The 2020 judges are an inspiring group, including an athlete, a blogger and a comedian. Judging the work alongside Stormzy will be Candice Braithwaite, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Emma Dabiri and Guz Khan.

There were two winners in 2019, and so the aim is to announce 1-2 winners again this year. The winner/s will receive a publishing contract with #Merky Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK.

#Merky Books have recently signed Malorie Blackman to publish her autobiography, so the winner will be alongside the former children’s laureate. Blackman told The Guardian that ‘I have been thinking about writing my memoirs for a while now, but the right moment never presented itself until a meeting with #Merky Books… an imprint that embraces new methods and ideas’.

To apply, fill out the form before midnight on Friday 30th October 2020.

Aileen Loftus

Aileen Loftus

Books Editor

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