10 Grants and Awards for Debut Writers to Make a Mark in the Publishing World

awards for debut writers
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Team P3 curates a list of grants and awards for debut writers to make a mark in the publishing world.

Publishing for the first time is a mix of nerves and anticipation. However, you can navigate these initial stages smoothly with the right guidance. This article lists some notable grants, residencies, and awards for debut writers. It’s a solid foundation to commence your publishing journey by getting the backing of reputed organisations.

Comment below any relevant grants or awards we might have missed, and we will add them to our compilation. Let’s begin!

List of Grands and Awards for Debut Writers

1. Write Beyond Borders

Awards for Debut Writers

Write Beyond Borders is a mentoring initiative catering to emerging writers of South Asian descent residing in the UK and South Asia. This project pairs successful applicants with experienced author mentors, guiding one-on-one sessions and masterclasses. Beyond geographical and political boundaries, mentees have the opportunity to build a writing community. Eligibility requires applicants to be 18 or older, of South Asian origin, residing in the UK or South Asia. Un-agented writers, without a published full-length work, including self-published authors, are encouraged to apply. Commitment to attending masterclasses, engaging with mentors, and contributing to the project’s blog is essential.

2. Pen Center Emerging Voices Fellowship

Awards for Debut Writers

The Emerging Voices Fellowship offers a virtual five-month immersive mentorship for early-career writers from underrepresented communities. Focused on supporting Black writers and inclusive of Indigenous, LGBTQ+, persons of color, immigrants, writers with disabilities, and those outside urban centers, the program provides one-on-one mentorship, editor/agent introductions, and workshops on editing, marketing, and platform creation. Originating from a 1994 PEN America Los Angeles forum, it wants to demystify the path to publication, fostering a diverse creative community. The Emerging Voices Workshop, an in-person week-long iteration, further enhances this initiative, promoting inclusivity in the publishing and media industries.

3. The Kolam Writers Workshop

Awards for Debut Writers

The Dum Pukht Writers’ Workshop, emerged from a critical reflection on the limitations of traditional writing workshops. The workshop, held at the Adishakti Theatre Complex in Pondicherry, addresses issues like brevity, affordability, and the lack of lasting impact. The founders, after over four years and fifty participants, used the pandemic pause to reevaluate their role in the writer’s world. Evolving into the Kolam Writers’ Workshop, it draws inspiration from the ancient Tamil art form, the “kolam,” symbolizing uncertainty, impermanence, creativity, discipline, and boundlessness—the essence of the writing life. The workshop offers an affordable, transformative, and enduring experience for writers.

4. Audible Emerging Playwrights Fund

Awards for Debut Writers

In 2017, Audible launched a theater initiative to focus on expanding access to outstanding plays and performances. A primary part of this effort is the Emerging Playwrights Fund which supports and nurtures emerging playwrights. Through this initiative, Audible aims to unite exceptional performers with original audio-centric, yet theatrically spirited, works, reaching millions of listeners. Audible ensures that at least 50% of commissions for emerging playwrights go to individuals of color and women for diversity of perspectives and opinions. The Fund is dedicated to developing unique voices and pushing the boundaries of audio storytelling.

5. Wallace Stegner Fellowship

Awards for Debut Writers

Stanford University’s Stegner Fellowship offers ten two-year fellowships annually split between fiction and poetry. A sanctuary for working artists, the program has writing and weekly workshops, omitting formal degrees. Their selection criteria prioritise creative prowess, growth potential, and workshop dynamics over your background. Open to diverse styles and demographics, applicants need no specific degrees, with a minimum age requirement of 18. A full-time commitment, the fellowship provides a living stipend, covering tuition and health insurance. The two-year journey also offers optional teaching opportunities for fellows. The program’s financial support and honing of literary craft is a tempting opportunity for emerging writers.

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6. The AutHer Award for Best Debut Author

Awards for Debut Writers

The AutHer Award celebrates the invaluable contributions of women authors to break biases and promote creativity within the literary space. By acknowledging and honoring them, the initiative seeks to inspire more women to embrace writing, proudly sharing their first stories. The award encourages transparency, urging authors to discard pseudonyms and create a respectful space for women writers. The AutHer Award for Best Debut Author specifically recognizes outstanding first full-length novels or original collections of short stories, providing a platform for talented women to gain recognition.

7. MacDowell Colony Fellowship

Awards for Debut Writers

The MacDowell project annually grants Fellowships to around 300 artists spanning seven disciplines, solely based on artistic excellence. Stressing inclusivity, there are no residency fees, and need-based stipends, along with travel reimbursement grants, to ensure accessibility for artists from diverse backgrounds and countries. MacDowell welcomes applications from creatives in architecture, film/video arts, interdisciplinary arts, literature, music composition, theatre, and visual arts. They encourage potential applicants with projects outside these disciplines as well to seek guidance for a supportive and open admissions process.

8. GrubStreet’s The Emerging Writer Fellowship

Awards for Debut Writers

The Emerging Writer Fellowship nurtures fresh voices in writing, offering three writers per year tuition-free access to GrubStreet’s classes and two Muse & the Marketplace summits. Spanning one year, the fellowship includes a mix of seminars, multi-week courses, and Muse & The Marketplace programming to enrich fellows’ understanding of craft and the publishing industry. It’s for writers aged 18 and above who are passionate, committed, and require financial aid. The fellowship, comprising 4 multi-week courses, 4 one-day classes, and 4 three-hour seminars, aspires to break financial barriers through diverse voices and inclusivity in the literary community.

9. Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award

Awards for Debut Writers

The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, an annual $2,000 grant, supports emerging writers of color in crime fiction. Administered by Sisters in Crime, an international organization, the grant helps in career development through workshops, seminars, conferences, retreats, online courses, and research activities. Founded in 1986, Sisters in Crime promotes the advancement of women crime writers. The recipient is also expected to serve on the 2024 award selection committee.

10. The Diverse Writers Grant

Awards for Debut Writers

The Diverse Writers grant supports speculative fiction writers from marginalized groups, including people of color, women, queer individuals, and disabled writers. The focus is on overcoming writing obstacles and the publishing process without requiring the project to center on identity issues. The grant seeks deep characterization, complex cultural landscapes, and high literary quality. Eligible projects must be book-length works of speculative fiction, spanning genres from hard science fiction to magical realism. Nonfiction, poetry, picture books, and editorial projects are not eligible. The grant aims to foster new, in-progress work and facilitate its completion rather than recognizing already published works.

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh doesn't know what to do with his life, so he writes. He also doesn't know what to write, so he reads. Gift him a book if you chance upon him and he'll love you forever.

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