£3,500 prize on offer in link-up between OWN IT! and Amazon aiming to increase diversity in commercial fiction

‘Storytelling brand’ OWN IT! is teaming up with Amazon Publishing to offer a £3,500 cash prize in a new writing contest which aims to boost diversity in commercial fiction.

The New Voices Award is open to unagented and under-represented writers of commercial fiction. There will be three finalists and an overall winner to be revealed in October by Sean Godfrey, author of the novel Sasha Knight.

You can find out more details about the award and how to enter at the OWN IT! website.

The winner will get £3,500, editorial feedback, and mentoring from an OWN IT! agent and Amazon Publishing editor. The finalists will also get a full editorial review of their entry from an Amazon Publishing editor and a virtual mentoring session from an OWN IT! agent. 

Submissions are focused on commercial fiction manuscripts by writers from traditionally under-represented backgrounds, including authors who are neurodivergent, from a Black, Asian background or ethnic minority background, who are a member of the LGBTQ community, are disabled, have a low household income, those who have had a lack of academic or vocational training opportunities, those who have experienced homelessness, or are a single parent.

OWN IT’s! marketing and brand executive Shae Davies says: ‘We care about contributing to creating an ecosystem where universal stories can come from a truly representative community of eclectic voices and diversity is measured through creativity. However, we understand that to do this, we first need a more level playing field so that all writers from all backgrounds feel valued and are given equal opportunities.’

Submissions will be open from August 15 until September 2. Authors should submit the first 2,000 words of their manuscript to the OWN IT! site, writing in genres including crime, mystery, romance, historical and book club fiction. 

Sammia Hamer, editorial director at Amazon, says, ‘I am thrilled that Amazon Publishing is teaming with OWN IT! It is so important for me to find stories that are unique and fresh and come from different perspectives; authors whose backgrounds might have made it more difficult to be discovered.’

OWN IT! is a publisher, agency and lifestyle brand set up by Crystal Mahey-Morgan and Jason Morgan to address a lack of representation in the arts and creative industries. It recently joined The Partnership Group and is looking to develop a production arm.