Barcelona’s Pontas Literary Agency Opens a Mentoring Prize for Authors

In News by Porter Anderson

The JJ Bola Emerging Writers Prize comes with £1,000 and a contract at the Pontas Agency, and is geared to writers from ‘Black, ethnic minority, LGBTQ+, and working-class backgrounds.’

A delivery cyclist rides by Barcelona’s Basílica de la Sagrada Família, April 9. Image – iStockphoto: Manel Subirats

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Submission Deadline: March 15
The Pontas Literary and Film Agency in Spain will have been in business for 29 years in May, and in a new announcement provided to Publishing Perspectives, Maria Cardona there tells us that the company is opening submissions for a new support-award for writers, one that provides both some money and mentoring.

Pontas AgencyNamed the Pontas and JJ Bola Emerging Writers Prize, the program expects to provide a £1,000 grant (US$1,365) and mentoring from author JJ Bola, whose 2017 novel No Place To Call Home is published by Skyhorse Publishing in North America, as well as by Crystal Mahey-Morgan’s Own It in the United Kingdom.

Bolla’s new book, Mask Off: Masculinity Redefined, is at Pluto Press, an examination of the performative nature of many masculinities and issues around “toxic masculinity” in many cultures.

Maria Cardona

The intent of the new program for authors is to have it serve, in particular, writers 18 and older, and unagented, unpublished, and under-represented.

“The prize is open to writers from Black, ethnic minority, LGBTQ+, and working-class backgrounds,” today’s (February 2) announcement says, “who are currently working on a novel. The writers can be based anywhere in the world as long as their work is written in English.”

In addition to the mentoring and money, the winner will be given representation by the Pontas Agency.

In a prepared statement, the author Bolla, is quoted, saying, “I’m very excited to partner with my literary agency, Pontas, to bring forward this amazing opportunity for unsigned, unpublished, and underrepresented writers in the publishing industry, writers aspiring to a professional writing career.

JJ Bola

“We’re looking for a brilliant new voice with a meaningful story, someone who is passionate about her or his craft.

“I never dreamed I could be a writer. I just followed something that I stumbled on and fell in love with.

“Writing has changed my life, and I was incredibly lucky to be discovered by and sign with Pontas back in 2016, but I know not everyone is afforded such serendipity. So, this prize is a way of giving back what was offered to me, but with the extra support of a financial remuneration and mentorship.

“I encourage all who fit the profile to apply, and not be discouraged by the result if you aren’t selected. Keep hope, keep faith, keep writing. And good luck.”

In submitting, writers are asked to enter three chapters of an unpublished novel—even if the book is not finished—along with a full synopsis and a comprehensive biography before March 15. Submissions are taken by email to

A shortlist of five emerging writers is to be announced on May 15, and the winner will be named on June 1. The winner and shortlistees of the prize will be selected by Pontas’ literary agents Anna Soler-Pont and Cardona, working with Bola. Selections are to be based entirely on the trio’s assessment of the writing.

Use the submissions email address to request full terms and conditions relative to the new program.

The Coronavirus in Spain

At this writing, the 522 a.m. ET (1022 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 2,822,805 cases in Spain’s population of 47 million, with 59,081 fatalities.

These numbers place Spain at seventh in the world for caseload and ninth in the world for COVID-19 deaths.

At El Pais in English, Pablo Linde is reporting that January was Spain’s worst month with the contagion to date, the health ministry reporting nearly 900,000 cases, almost twice the number in October and November. Hospitalizations were at 40 percent above those of December.

Pontas and JJ Bola Emerging Writers Prize

More from us on publishing and book awards is here. More on the Spanish market is here, and more on literary agencies is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.