LOUISE MERIWETHER FIRST BOOK PRIZE
ABOUT THE LOUISE MERIWETHER FIRST BOOK PRIZE
The prize was founded in 2016 to honor author Louise Meriwether by publishing a debut work by a woman or nonbinary author of color, between 30,000 and 80,000 words. The prize is granted to a manuscript that follows in the tradition of Meriwether’s Daddy Was a Number Runner, one of the first contemporary American novels featuring a young Black girl as the protagonist. Meriwether’s groundbreaking text inspired the careers of writers like Jacqueline Woodson and Bridgett M. Davis, among many others. The prize continues this legacy of telling much-needed stories that shift culture and inspire new writers.
The winners of the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize are:
Melissa Valentine (2019)—author of The Names of All the Flowers
Claudia D. Hernández (2018)—author of Knitting the Fog
YZ Chin (2017)—author of Though I Get Home
The 2020 entry period is now open.
The entry period is now open. It will close on June 28, 2019.
HOW TO ENTER:
The Louise Meriwether First Book Prize is open to fiction and narrative nonfiction by women of color and nonbinary writers of color. We do not accept poetry, plays, or academic texts.
All manuscripts should be sent to louisemeriwetherprize [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject line “First Book Prize” followed by your name and book title.
Please send manuscript as a PDF.
You must include a cover letter as a separate attachment (also PDF) with the following information:
Manuscript word count
How your work fits with the Feminist Press
A brief list of writers (up to three) that you consider part of your writing lineage
If you are represented by a literary agent. If yes, please include for how long and if they are actively pitching your work.
The work submitted for consideration may not be under contract elsewhere.
One winner will be awarded a $5,000 advance (half at the time of the initial award and half upon publication) and a contract to publish their book with the Feminist Press in print and digital editions in spring 2021. We expect to work closely with the winner and provide editorial guidance on their manuscript.
The Louise Meriwether First Book Prize is open to women of color and nonbinary writers of color who are: residents of the fifty (50) United States, the District of Columbia, and US territories and possessions; 18 years of age or older at time of entry; and who have not had a book published or have a book under contract at the time of submission. All federal, state, and local regulations apply. LIMIT ONE ENTRY PER PERSON. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED. Candidates may not submit the same manuscript in subsequent years unless specifically invited by the Feminist Press. Employees of the Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine and their immediate family members and persons living in their household are not eligible to enter.
There will be two (2) rounds of judging, as follows:
Round 1: All entries will be reviewed by a group of judges made up of staff, board members, and allies of the Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine. Finalists for the prize will be notified in October 2019.
Round 2: The top five (5) submissions chosen in the first round will be reviewed by a panel of judges including Feminist Press executive director and publisher Jamia Wilson and TAYO Literary Magazine editor in chief Melissa R. Sipin. The panel will choose one manuscript as the winning entry from that group. The winner will be announced in March 2020.
MEET THE JUDGES
Meet the 2019 Winner, Melissa Valentine
The 2019 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize winner is Melissa Valentine, author of The Names of All the Flowers (Summer 2020). Valentine was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Her nonfiction has appeared in Guernica, Jezebel, Apogee, and BLACKBERRY, among others. Melissa is a graduate of the MFA program at Mills College. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Meet the 2018 Winner, CLAUDIA D. HERNáNDEZ
The 2018 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize winner is Claudia D. Hernández, author of Knitting the Fog (July 2019). Hernández was born and raised in Guatemala. She is a mother, photographer, poet, translator, and bilingual educator residing in Los Angeles. Hernández holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She is the founder of the ongoing project Today’s Revolutionary Women of Color.
Meet the 2017 Winner, YZ CHIN
The 2017 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize winner is YZ Chin, author of Though I Get Home (April 2018). Chin was born and raised in Taiping, Malaysia, and lives in New York. She works as a software engineer by day and writes by night.