The Primadonna Prize

The 2022 Primadonna Prize: SHORTLIST REVEALED!

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 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.

We are delighted to announce our shortlisted five writers: 

CT Allen
Jo Morey
Natalie Gregory
Shelley Hastings
Zee Younus

They have been invited to submit entries of 3000 – 5000 words, which must be previously unpublished work, for judging by our panel of experts. Their entries must be accompanied by a ‘back-of-book’ blurb of 250 words max. The winner will be announced at a special event at the Primadonna festival at 5pm on Friday 28 July. 

Congratulations to Alice Willitts, Amelia Butterly, Christina May, Elizabeth Joseph, Iva Litova, Kayleigh Cassidy, Kristin Pedroja, Mark Bowsher, Samira Carroll, Sinead Beverland and Viktoria Dahill for making the longlist. 

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.

To read more about our previous winners, click here. 

We set up the Primadonna Prize in 2019 with the aim of opening up access to the publishing industry, and creating a network of writers that supported one another. No one embodied these aspirations more than Claire Mannion, who was shortlisted for the inaugural Primadonna Prize. She strongly believed that although writers were competing against each other for the Prize, it was more important that the competition should bring writers together, and that they should help and support each other, wherever they were on their writing journey.

Following her death in January 2023 at the age of just 42, we wish to honour Claire’s life and writing by offering an additional prize in her name – the Claire Mannion Literary Endeavour Prize – which will be awarded to two of the shortlisted writers. These two writers will be offered mentorship or writing feedback from previous Primadonna shortlisted writers, Farah Ahamed and Elissa Soave. It is hoped that by offering this prize in Claire’s name, her legacy of supporting and helping fellow writers will endure.