Influx Press launches first novel prize for Black British women with Black Ballad

Influx Press launches first novel prize for Black British women with Black Ballad

Independent publisher Influx Press is launching a new fiction prize for Black British women, in partnership with lifestyle platform Black Ballad.

The Black Ballad X Influx First Novel Award will be an annual prize for the best debut by a Black British woman, with submissions opening on 8th September and closing on 20th October.

One winner will receive £1,500 and their novel will be published by Influx in autumn 2022. The runner up will receive a free, detailed manuscript assessment from Sanya Semakula and Kit Caless from Influx Press. Judges will be author Natasha Brown (pictured), head of editorial at Black Ballad Jendella Benson, and Semakula, acquiring editor at Influx Press. A shortlist will be drawn up by mid-December, with the winner announced in January 2022.

Applicants should submit an unpublished novel, and the author should not have had a novel published previously, though other fictional work, such as short stories are permitted. Submissions must be written by a Black woman who has been living in the UK for more than five years, or has UK citizenship. Agented and un-agented writers are accepted.

Benson said: “Providing opportunities for Black women writers has always been a central part of the vision for Black Ballad, so working with Sanya and Influx on this prize is a wonderful partnership. Natasha Brown is a phenomenal talent and we’re so glad she’s on board to judge. We can’t stress enough the importance of having black women involved at every stage of publishing, and it is an honour to be part of the much-needed change happening.”

Semakula added: “Every first novel is a momentous achievement. We wanted to celebrate that with this prize opening and to be a part of the journey with a talented writer. I'm thrilled we'll be working with Black Ballad and Natasha Brown on this, and I can't wait to see what comes in.”