The Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME award



Gollancz, the UK’s oldest science fiction and fantasy imprint, and Ben Aaronovitch, author of the bestselling RIVERS OF LONDON series, are teaming up with some of the foremost voices in the industry – including NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH and THE GOOD LITERARY AGENCY – to launch a new writing prize that aims to champions underrepresented voices in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

The award responds to stark new statistics illustrating the worrying lack of diversity in science fiction and fantasy publishing with Nielsen Bookscan figures for the genre showing that of the 4,589 books published in this category in 2018, only five authors featured were British writers of colour.

Launching on the 1st of October, THE GOLLANCZ & RIVERS OF LONDON BAME SFF AWARD will give Black, Asian and minority ethnic writers the opportunity to submit a short sample of writing within the genres of science fiction, fantasy or horror. Those writers will then be in with the chance to win a selection of mentoring and monetary prizes of values of up to £4,000, so as to support their future writing careers.

The award will run over several months offering writing advice and insights aimed at demystifying the publishing process across a long open submissions period. A shortlist will be announced in Spring 2020, with a final winner to be selected by a panel of well-known SFF authors and industry professions in the Summer 2020.

Coming on board to support the award and extend both its reach and capabilities are THE GOOD LITERARY AGENCY and, non-profit writing organisation, NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH (NANOWRIMO).


Submissions are now closed.


ANNE CLARKE, GOLLANCZ PUBLISHER says: ‘The current lack of representation in science fiction and fantasy is no secret and it has to change. As modern speculative fiction publishers, we at Gollancz have a responsibility not just to say our doors are open, but to actively seek out and support writers whose backgrounds and experience have historically been – and still are – under-represented in our genre. I hope this award will encourage writers who have perhaps not always felt welcome in the world of science fiction and fantasy publishing and I’m looking forward to discovering exciting new writing talent within the submissions.’

BEN AARONOVITCH, bestselling author of RIVERS OF LONDON says: ‘There’s a problem with British Speculative Fiction – it lacks diversity. It is, in fact, whiter than a polar bear in a snowstorm who’s decided to redecorate their cave with Dulux’s brand new white, with a touch of white collection. Since it’s inconceivable that there are no potential SF writers of colour looking to get published, we have to assume that something is getting in their way. A great many somethings, in fact, not least the monolithic monocultural nature of publishing itself and the direct effect racism has on constraining people’s freedom of action. This is a great loss for the writers because they’re not getting published, and a greater loss for British SF because it is denied their talents and perspective. SF is a hungry beast of a genre that constantly devours new ideas and perspectives to drive the churning engines of our collective imagination. It needs to be fed – we need to feed it. Something has to be done and this competition is my small contribution. Will it solve the problem? No, systemic racism is not going to be defeated by a literary competition, but it will, hopefully, draw a great deal of neglected, undiscovered and tentative talent into the hungry gaze of the devouring SF beast. I make no promises, but I think it’s worth a punt – don’t you?’

GRANT FAULKNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF NANOWRIMO says: ‘NaNoWriMo’s mantra is, “Everybody has a story to tell, and everyone’s story matters.” We’re fundamentally about access, inclusion, and our mission is to galvanize all people’s creativity so that they feel the power of their voices and put their voices into the world. NaNoWriMo’s programs teach its participants to reject the message that their stories aren’t worth telling, which is why we’re teaming up on this award: we think this award will help people to savour the raw joy of making things and change the world with their stories. We understand ourselves and the world we live in through our stories, so we need diverse points of view and experiences. NaNoWriMo has always been known as a gate-crashing organization, so we want to crash through the gates of exclusion, and this award is one way to do so.’

ABI FELLOWS, AGENT AT THE GOOD LITERARY AGENCY says: ‘We are thrilled to be working with Gollancz to find BAME writers in the genres of fantasy, science fiction and fantasy.  The statistics speak for themselves: this is a much-needed initiative and a fantastic opportunity for writers to receive meaningful mentoring and support as well as insights into the publishing industry. We can’t wait to read and work with the amazing writers that this process will undoubtedly reveal.’

Applicants will be able to submit entries to the prize from 1st Oct 2019 and will close on midnight GMT of 31st Jan 2020. A short list of finalists for the prize will be announced in Spring 2020 and an overall winner and runners-up will be announced in Summer 2020.



1st Prize – £4,000 prize money, alongside a critique of work submitted and a year long mentoring programme* with Gollancz commissioning editor Rachel Winterbottom. (*This mentoring programme will consist of four, one hour-long, phonecalls to talk through the writer’s progress and continue opening up the publishing process.) This prize will be awarded to one person.

2nd Prize – £2,000 prize money, alongside a critique of work submitted. This prize will be awarded to one person.

Five runners up – Will all receive a cash prize of £800 each.

All of the above will be invited to London to take part in an insight into publishing day when the prize’s shortlist is announced in Spring 2020. Required travel and accommodation will be covered by Gollancz and all shortlistees will take away a goodie bag of Gollancz books.



5,000 – 10,000 words consisting of either a self-contained short story or the opening of a novel that fits into the scifi, fantasy or horror genres.

A one page synopsis summarising their story.

A cover letter containing a little bit about themselves.



People who identify as Black, Asian or an ethnic minority.

People who are resident of the UK or Ireland.

People who have not previously had a novel traditionally published by a UK publisher or are under contract with a UK publisher.

People who have not had their entry submission previously published or had their submission winning another competition.

People who are over the age of 18.

Only one entry is allowed per person.


Submissions are now closed.




Gollancz is the oldest specialist SF and Fantasy publisher in the UK. Founded in 1927 and with a continuous SF publishing programme dating back to 1961, this imprint of the Orion Publishing Group is home to a galaxy of award-winning and bestselling authors. Through our long-running SF Masterworks programme, and major digital initiative the SF Gateway, Gollancz has one of the largest ranges of SF and Fantasy of any publisher in the world. Authors include Brandon Sanderson, Ben Aaronovitch, Ursula K. LeGuin, Aliette de Bodard, Nalini Singh, Emma Newman, Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Dhonielle Clayton, and Joanne Harris.

Ben Aaronovitch was a screenwriter for Doctor Who and a bookseller at Waterstones. He now writes full time, and every book in his Rivers of London series has been a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. He is published in 14 languages and has sold more than 2 million copies around the world. Aaronovitch is also a trustee on the board of Cityread London and is a long-time supporter of Nigeria’s premiere arts and cultural festival, The Aké Festival. He still lives in London, the city he likes to refer to as ‘the capital of the world’.

National Novel Writing Month is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes your story matters. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.

The Good Literary Agency is a social enterprise literary agency from the team behind the award-winning book The Good Immigrant. Inspired by a desire to increase opportunities for representation for all writers under-represented in mainstream publishing, the agency is focused on discovering, developing and launching the careers of writers of colour, disability, working class, LGBTQ+ and anyone who feels their story is not being told in the mainstream. The agency is supported using public funding by Arts Council England as well as through support from publishers and other industry organisations and through money raised via their crowdfunding for The Good Journal, a quarterly literary journal for writers of colour. Headquartered in Bristol, the agency is committed to working with writers across the UK and has a focus on helping writers develop their craft as well as helping them find the perfect publisher.


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