Author J J Bola and agency Pontas launch prize for under-represented writers

Author J J Bola and agency Pontas launch prize for under-represented writers

The Pontas Literary & Film Agency and author J J Bola are partnering to create a mentoring prize for unagented, unpublished, underrepresented writers.

The winner will receive a £1,000 grant to support their writing, mentoring from Bola and literary agent Maria Cardona and representation from the Pontas Literary & Film Agency.

Bola, who is represented by Pontas, published his debut novel, No Place to Call Home, with OWN IT! in June 2017, and his next project, The Selfless Act of Breathing, is due for release as a lead title with Dialogue Books this March.

He said: "I’m very excited to partner with my literary agency, Pontas, to bring forward this amazing opportunity for unsigned, unpublished, and underrepresented writers in the publishing industry aspiring for a professional writing career. We’re looking for a brilliant new voice, with a meaningful story, and who is passionate about their craft.

"I never dreamt I could be a writer – I just followed something that I stumbled upon and fell in love with. Writing has changed my life, and I was incredibly lucky to be discovered by and sign with Pontas back in 2016 but I know not everyone is afforded such serendipity. So, this prize is a way of giving back what was offered to me, but with the extra support of a financial remuneration and mentorship. I encourage all who fit the profile to apply, and to not be discouraged by the result if you aren’t selected. Keep hope, keep faith, keep writing. And good luck!"

The prize is open to writers from Black, ethnic minority, LGBTQ+ and working-class backgrounds who are currently working on a novel. The writers can be based anywhere in the world as long as their work is written in English.

Writers must submit three chapters of their unpublished novel, even if it’s not finished, along with a full synopsis and a comprehensive biography before 15th March 2021 by email to The novels submitted do not need to be completed at the time of submission.

A shortlist of five emerging writers will be announced on 15th May, and the winner on 1st June 2021. The winner and shortlistees of the prize will be selected by literary agents Anna Soler-Pont and Maria Cardona, and writer Bola.