(Re)Presenting Romance: a mentoring scheme for underrepresented

(Re)Presenting Romance: there’s still time to enter our mentoring scheme for budding writers

Love, lust and captivating characters who live in your head rent-free: this is the stuff of brilliant romantic fiction. A new mentoring scheme, (Re)Presenting Romance, is looking for fresh voices to breathe new life into the genre. Here’s how to get involved. 

If you’ve ever dreamt of writing a great love story, consider this your sign to open up that Word doc and start typing. Stylist has partnered with the publishing powerhouses at HarperFiction and The Good Literary Agency to launch (Re)Presenting Romance: a mentoring scheme for underrepresented writers – and it’s now open for submissions. 

There are few topics more universal than love, and yet many of us browsing the romance section of our local bookshop will struggle to find a love story we can see ourselves in. This scheme, open to those who are currently underrepresented in mainstream publishing – including writers of colour, disabled writers, LGBTQ+ writers and working class writers – seeks to change that, offering the winning author a £1,000 grant and a year of mentoring from an industry insider. 

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The prize will be judged by a panel of experts: renowned authors Sareeta Domingo, Talia Hibbert and Lindsey Kelk; editorial director at HarperFiction, Martha Ashby; literary agent at The Good Literary Agency Kemi Ogunsanwo and Stylist’s features editor Meena Alexander. Looking for all kinds of adult romantic fiction with a particular interest in romcoms, they’re set to spend the summer narrowing down submissions to a shortlist of the most exciting new voices.

“There is a clear need to ensure that the beauty of romantic fiction is one that should reflect the realities of a broad range of readers, from different backgrounds and experiences,” says Ogunsanwo. “I am incredibly excited about the quality, diversity and breadth of writing that we expect to see come out of such a wonderful initiative.”

If you’re just starting out in your writing career, don’t let that put you off – there’s no requirement to have a finished manuscript before you enter and inexperienced writers are actively encouraged to apply.

Sound like the big break you’ve been waiting for? Here’s everything you need to know to get involved. 

How do I enter? 

To enter, you’ll need to send the first 5,000-8,000 words of your romance novel, a short synopsis of the story (max. 500 words) and a short paragraph about yourself to representingromance@harpercollins.co.uk. You can read the full terms and conditions before sending your entry here.  

When is the deadline for submissions? 

Submissions are open for four months and will close on 1 August 2022.

Is there a prize? 

One overall winner will be chosen to receive a £1,000 writing grant from HarperCollins plus a year of mentoring (up to 12 one-hour sessions) from either Martha Ashby or Kemi Ogunsanwo.

Two runners-up will also receive a year of mentoring from Martha Ashby or The Good Literary Agency.  

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Who are the judges? 

Judging the prize will be renowned authors Sareeta Domingo, Talia Hibbert and Lindsey Kelk; Martha Ashby, editorial director at HarperFiction; Kemi Ogunsanwo, literary agent at The Good Literary Agency; and Meena Alexander, Stylist’s own features editor.

When is the winner announced? 

The shortlist will be announced w/c 12 September 2022 and the winner and two runners-up will be announced on 17 October 2022. Good luck!

For more information on the scheme, visit representingromance.co.uk.

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