Penguin Random House division William Heinemann is launching a new imprint in partnership with musician Stormzy called #Merky Books.
It will launch with a title by the grime rapper himself entitled Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far this November and publish two to three titles per year, aiming to "form a home for a new generation of voices". It will also offer a paid internship and include and open submissions competition.
Stormzy said that his life-long journey with words, poetry and writing started at school, and that he intends for the imprint to be empowering for young writers.
"I read books religiously and often wrote poems which were undeniably setting me up for a career as a songwriter and a rapper", said the musician. "We’ve created #Merky Books for many reasons, the first simply for it to be a reference point for talented young writers to say 'I can be an author' and for that to be a feasible and realistic achievement and not something in the distance."
He added: "We hope this imprint will instil belief and ambition in young writers, making publishing seem less prohibitive and making the dream of being a published author a reality. We want #Merky Books to be a source of confidence and I look forward to publishing writers from all different walks of life, especially those who may have never had the opportunity to get into the industry so early."
Rise Up will be published on 1st November 2018 and will feature a number of never-before-seen photographs, annotated lyrics and contributions from those closest to him.
Editorial director Tom Avery acquired world rights directly from the author.
Penguin Random House said: "A showman like no other, Stormzy’s remarkable ascent has been accompanied by his honest and relatable character. A true spokesman of black empowerment and social activism, Stormzy is one of the UK’s most inspiring young men who has consistently stood up for people from all areas of life, encouraging his fans and listeners alike to speak openly about their beliefs, vote and fight for their rights.
"Rise Up is the story of how he got there. It’s a story about faith and the ideas worth fighting for. It’s about knowing where you’re from, and where you’re going. It’s about following your dreams without compromising who you are."
Future #Merky Books initiatives include an open submission competition to find new works of fiction, non- fiction or poetry, and a paid internship. More information is available from the imprint's website.
Avery said he'd been a long-time fan of Stormzy’s and praised him for "shaping British culture".
"He is not only an exceptionally talented and dedicated musician, but also an artist who is shaping British culture. Rise Up explores a remarkable ascent and the lessons learned along the way, and #Merky Books will look to the future, establishing a platform and a home for new writing that matters," he said.
Real name Michael Omari, Stormzy is a musician from Thornton Heath, South London. He won the BBC Music Award for ‘Artist of the Year’ in 2017, and received two BRIT Awards for ‘Male Solo Artist’ and ‘Best Album’ in February 2018. His debut album, "Gang Signs & Prayer", debuted at number one in the UK album charts, the first ever grime album to do so. The album was subsequently nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize and also won the Ivor Novello ‘Album Award’ in June 2018. He lives in London.
PRH has launched a number of initiatives to support its commitment to increasing diversity, including an "Inclusion Tracker" intended to measure the diversity of its authors and staff in the pursuit of a new company-wide goal to "reflect UK society by 2025", as well as its WriteNow campaign, a scheme which intends to find and develop new writers from under-represented communities.
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