The Primadonna Prize

The 2023 Primadonna Prize: NOW OPEN!

The Primadonna Prize is for unsigned and unrepresented new writing talent. It was established to open up access to the publishing industry, and is judged anonymously and without regard to grammar or spelling: a first for a literary prize.

This year’s Primadonna Prize for unsigned and un-agented authors will, for the first time, offer the winner a book contract with HQ with an advance of £7.5k for World English rights.

The winner will also work with Curtis Brown’s Alice Lutyens, who will develop their shortlisted piece into a publishable book. There is a cash prize for the runner-up, as well as a mentoring session with a member of the Primadonna team.

Meet this year's judging panel...

Andi Osho

Author Andi Osho says: ‘it’s so important to create better access to the industry, and this is a fantastic way to get those unheard voices out there.'  


Claire Malcolm

Claire Malcolm is founder and Chief Executive of New Writing North, and can't wait to read this year's entries to the Prize. 

Alice Lutyens

Alice Lutyens is an agent at Curtis Brown.

‘I could not be more excited about joining the exemplary team for the annual Primadonna Prize,’ she says. ‘I’ve seen first hand how valuable prizes are for aspiring authors to achieve recognition and exposure, and this one is particularly special as the first to disregard grammar and spelling – a challenge for most agents!’

Lisa Milton

Lisa Milton is Executive Publisher HQ Stories as well as sitting on the Exec Committee of HarperCollinsUK. She joined HarperCollins in 2015 after a decade as Managing Director of Orion Publishing where she was responsible for Orion, Orion Children’s, Gollancz and Weidenfeld & Nicolson, which was awarded Imprint of the Year at the 2015 Bookseller Industry Awards. Whilst there she published major bestsellers and award winning authors including Maeve Binchy, Ian Rankin, Gillian Flynn and Malala Yousafzai. Lisa is the head judge for this year's Prize. 

Shona Abhyankar

Shona Abhyankar is an award-winning book publicist and one of the Primadonna founding members. She is associate director at ed public relations, a boutique PR agency who specialise in fiction and non-fiction book campaigns, as well as publishing awards and events. Shona’s former roles include Head of Publicity at Penguin Random House and PR Lead for Amazon Publishing UK. She is a mentor for the Publishers Publicity Circle (PPC) and has won PPC awards for her work. Shona’s previous authors include Arianna Huffington, Abi Morgan and Sheryl Sandberg. Find her on Twitter @PublicityShona and on Instagram @shonaandotherstories.

Elissa Soave

Elissa Soave is a Scottish writer. She won the inaugural Primadonna Prize in 2019 and her first novel, 'Ginger and Me' is published by HQ in July 2022.

To enter the Primadonna Prize simply write 500 words of new writing (fiction) on the theme of ‘renewal’ and email them, along with proof of payment of your £8 entry fee, to

To pay your entry fee, click here. If you can’t meet the entry fee, free entries are available – email us for information or see the competition Ts&Cs, below. 

Those shortlisted from the first round will be invited to submit entries of 3000 – 5000 words. This must be previously unpublished work. All second-round entries must be accompanied by a ‘back-of-book’ blurb of 250 words max.

The first prize is a contract worth £7,500 with HQ and representation by Alice Lutyens from Curtis Brown. The runner-up will receive £100 and an online mentoring session with one of the Primadonnas. All shortlisted entrants will be offered two complimentary tickets to the festival and a Primadonna Festival T-Shirt.

Click to read The Primadonna Prize – Terms and Conditions in full.