Romantic Novelists' Association

The Romantic Novelists’ Association And Hodder & Stoughton Announce New Writing Prize With Bestselling Author Mike Gayle

27 June 2023

Portrait of Mike Gayle, writer. A black man sits in a cafe wearing a stylish black suit, glasses, coffee cup on a ledge next to him.

Logo for new Love at First Line award with the RNA and Mike GayleHodder & Stoughton are delighted to be pairing with the Romantic Novelists’ Association on a one-off prize entitled LOVE AT FIRST LINE. This summer, Hodder & Stoughton, bestselling author Mike Gayle, and the Romantic Novelists’ Association will be joining forces to champion love stories and discover new voices in commercial fiction.

Working closely with Hachette UK’s The Future Bookshelf, Hodder & Stoughton are excited to be launching a new writing prize for writers from a Black, Asian and Mixed Heritage background who want to write, or are already writing, fiction with a romantic theme. Those who are over 18, living in the UK and currently unpublished are welcome to enter. The prize will also encourage those who identify as belonging to an underrepresented group in the romance genre to get in touch to receive a free writing resource to assist with their writing journey.

The winner will receive a cash prize of £2500 and a 45-minute virtual feedback session with brand author and repeat bestseller Mike Gayle to discuss their writing. In addition, they will get 4 x 1hr virtual mentoring sessions with a commissioning editor from Hodder & Stoughton and entry onto the RNA New Writers Scheme, currently worth £195.

Three runners-up will receive vouchers for RNA writing courses, a bundle of romantic fiction novels published by Hodder & Stoughton, and a 500 word written critique on their entry from a member of the judging panel.

The judging panel will comprise of Mike Gayle, who this year celebrates 25 years of publishing, Ariella Feiner of United Agents, Nick Sayers, Publisher at Hodder Fiction, Jean Fullerton, Chair of the RNA and Leah Davies, host of the Capital Xtra Book Club, Radio DJ and bookworm. Further information on the panel can be found below.

Mike Gayle says, ‘I’m absolutely thrilled to be involved in this prize along with the RNA. We’re both passionate about broadening the appeal of stories with love at their centre and encouraging new voices to tell them.’

Jean Fullerton of the RNA says, ‘Romantic fiction is absolutely booming, and we’re so proud to celebrate the power of love stories to reflect our own lives, help us escape them, break our hearts or put them back together. The Romantic Novelists’ Association is delighted to be joining with Hodder Fiction to discover more diverPortrait of Mike Gayle, writer. A black man sits in a cafe wearing a stylish black suit, glasses, coffee cup on a ledge next to literary voices.’

Nick Sayers says, ‘Writing about relationships is the bedrock of fiction. People want to read about them and it is important that good authors tell these stories. I’m delighted to be a judge for this prize, which is designed to encourage writers to begin, or continue, their journey towards publication, with stories that will reach the widest range of readers.’

Ariella Feiner says, ‘So many readers are turning increasingly to love stories, which tell us so much about the human experience. It’s crucial that we as a publishing industry are encouraging writers from as diverse a background as possible to share these tales. I am therefore delighted to be working with the RNA as a judge on this prize and look forward to seeing the entries flood in.’

Submissions for the Love at First Line prize will open on 22nd June 2023 and close on 1st October 2023. During this period, budding writers are invited to submit the first 5,000 words of their novel, as well as a synopsis of up to 500 words. Submissions can be made here: