The prize was founded in 2016 to honor author Louise Meriwether by publishing a debut work by a woman or nonbinary author of color. 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 inaugural prize was awarded to writer YZ Chin in 2017 for her short story collection, Though I Get Home. The Feminist Press published Chin’s collection in April 2018. In 2018, the prize was awarded to Claudia D. Hernández for her nonfiction fusion of poetry and narrative essay, Knitting The Fog (April 2019).

First time authors, submit your complete manuscript, either fiction or nonfiction (such as: novel, memoir, short story collection, biography, manifesto, or other work of nonfiction), of 30,000 to 80,000 words, and you could receive a $5,000 advance and publication by the Feminist Press.

Finalists will be notified in October. One winner will be announced in February 2019.


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.

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 February 2019.

Meet our judges!


Contest entries will be accepted beginning at 12:01:01 AM (Eastern Time) on March 1, 2018 and all entries must be received no later than 11:59:59 PM (Eastern Time) on June 30, 2018. Entries submitted prior to or after the entry period will not be considered.


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 an a cover letter as a separate attachment with author statement, a brief bio, how your work fits with the Feminist Press, your manuscript’s word count, and a brief list of writers (up to three) you consider are part of your writing lineage. This document should also be a PDF.

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 2020. We expect to work closely with the winner and provide editorial guidance on their manuscript.

The submissions period is now open.

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.

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A haunting, surprising, and rebellious collection that contains multitudes.
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Though I Get Home
13.56 16.95

YZ Chin
Interlinked stories trace postcolonial memory and political dissidence across the globe.

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Meet the 2018 Winner, CLAUDIA D. HERNáNDEZ!


Claudia D. 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.

How exciting that Hernández’s voice joins the canon of contemporary Latina stories.
— Bridgett M. Davis

Photos from the 2017 celebration!

We celebrate and invest in extraordinary emerging writers from communities whose stories are often unheard or under-supported. The Prize creates space for fresh narratives that shift culture, inspire action, and expand our vision for the future.
— Jamia Wilson, executive director and publisher of the feminist press

Get reading!

Daddy Was a Number Runner
13.56 16.95

Louise Meriwether
"[A] tough, tender, bitter novel of a black girl struggling toward womanhood."

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Into the Go-Slow
13.56 16.95

Bridgett M. Davis
A novel about sisters, the legacy of the Black Power Movement, and the troubled bond between African Americans and Africans.

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Though I Get Home
13.56 16.95

YZ Chin
Interlinked stories trace postcolonial memory and political dissidence across the globe.

Add To Cart