Friday, 18 March 2011

Ankara Press Calls for Submission: Purse-size romance novella

Ankara Press is devoted to publishing easy-to-read, purse-size romantic fiction titles with African settingas, storylines and characters.  We believe that one way to get young people reading is to introduce them to short, snazzy, fast-paced stories about the life they live or yearn to live.  The stories will be engaging, and above all, they will allow women to see the best version of themselves in print. These purse-novellas will be issued at regular monthly intervals.

Women of all ages have always enjoyed romance. They ask for it in their movies, their music, from their lovers and in their books.  But in Africa, they have had to find it in the pages of Western series like Mills and Boon, Silhouette and other Harlequin titles. It is time that the continent’s rising consumer class gets romances that reflect the complexity of their modern lives.

Our reader

She is young, single and confident with some money in her purse and time to read. She is (or wants to be) financially independent, ambitious and interested in challenging boundaries and going beyond expectations. She enjoys fashion, Nollywood films, contemporary African pop music and she wants to see herself reflected in what she consumes in her leisure time.

What we are looking for

We are looking for strong, original voices to write romance novels for the African market.  But we don’t want stories that simply recreate traditional romances. Often, these rely on dangerous notions of male dominance, control and manipulation that have done great harm to women all over the world.  Many women tolerate abusive situations because they wrongly believe that this is what romance should look like.

We are looking for a new kind of romance. One in which the thrill of fantasy is alive but realized in a healthier, more grounded reality. One that gives women the tools to shape their own destinies. We want romances in which strong, capable female characters meet handsome, charming men who are secure in their identities and respectful of a woman’s choices.

The novels should be 40,000 – 45,000 words long (they should not exceed this word limit) and should be divided into about 10-15 chapters.


The main character should be an African woman between 20-30 years old who comes from a middle or lower-middle class background, and who because of her intelligence, ambition and hard work has a bright future ahead of her. She must be realistic - with both good and bad qualities - but not so complex that the reader won‘t be able to relate to her.  The heroine should be wholesome, likeable and assertive. She should not be shown to be helpless, or wholly dependent on anyone. Even when she finds herself in situations beyond her control, she should always have an optimistic and proactive attitude.

The heroine’s love interest should be an African man. He is attractive and successful in his own field. While standard careers such as doctors, lawyers and businessmen are welcome, alternative careers such as the arts and in skilled labour (mechanics, carpenters, taxi drivers etc.) should be explored and are encouraged. He should be sensitive and realistic without conforming to the romantic hero stereotype (i.e. domineering, arrogant, and dismissive).

He and the heroine should have a genuine connection beyond physical attraction. They should have something in common. While they may have differences which may be the source of the story’s conflict, they should remain respectful of each other. More importantly, they should be passionate about their desire for each other and everything else they do. 

Plot and Setting

The novels should be set in an urban environment. They can feature international locales, but a real (not fictionalised) African city should be where the primary story takes place. The story should reflect contemporary speech patterns and expressions without being pretentious or too localized.

The plot should be fast-paced and entertaining. It should focus on the development of a central romantic relationship while the heroine struggles to realize her ambitions. Don’t dwell too much on her trials and tribulations; rather frame them in terms of how she relates to the people in her life. In other words, no sob stories!

No matter what else goes on, the novels should end on a positive note. Major plot threads should be resolved. The heroine should be or about to be in a promising love relationship by the end, but not by giving up her ambitions or her values. 

Point of View

The novels should be written in the third person, preferably from the point of view of the heroine. Other points of view may be employed to add depth and insight to the narrative, but should be used sparingly.


Authors are advised to keep sub-plots to a minimum. Interesting minor characters are welcome, but they should not dominate the story.


Profanity, explicit sex scenes, religious or ethnic intolerance are not acceptable. There can be a strong physical attraction between the heroine and her Mr. Right, but it should not be the focus of their relationship. They can sleep together during the course of the novel, but if they do, it should be done tastefully and they must practice safe sex at all times or be able to discuss it.

What to do next?

Email a 500-word synopsis outlining the characters and the plot of the novel and attach the first 3 chapters of your story as a Word document. Be sure to pay attention to punctuation, spelling and grammar before submitting your sample.

Please include your name (aliases and pen names will only be considered once the manuscript has been accepted), the title of the book, your phone number and email address on a separate cover page.  Your name or identity must not appear on the manuscript itself.  Please include the title of the manuscript and page numbers at the top of each page. Submissions will not be accepted without this. There is no limit to how many or how often submissions can be made. Please note all rights sold will include print, electronic, film, audio and digital rights. 

If your sample is selected, you will be contacted and asked to submit a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the novel. If that is satisfactory, you will be asked to sign a legal contract and submit a completed manuscript within approximately three to four months. So please indicate your availability to start writing with your response.

If you have an existing work you want to adapt, please send a synopsis along with a chapter of the work as your submission. All finished manuscripts will be paid for on our acceptance of a completed manuscript.

To email your sample and synopsis or for further information, please contact Chinelo Onwualu at:


  1. aw cool. This is a little like nollybooks isn't it?

  2. Anonymous8:51:00 pm

    ...I really like the Nigerian flavour, but I think it is too restricted...That is why I am not contributing...Our wings of creativity should not be clipped...i am only thinking aloud...

  3. Anonymous7:00:00 pm

    Ditto first anon. And who knows how many more out there feel the same way? Why so prescriptive? Talk about fettered 'creativity', a misnormer right? You either have creativity (allow authors to think for themselves) or you write your own books!

  4. Anonymous12:46:00 am

    What does the writer mean by 'no explicit sex scenes'? Does it refer to erocita? I have full-described sex scenes although, they are (in my opinion) very tastefully done. (i.e. I won't be embarrassed if my mother read them - or my future mother in law for that matter)

  5. @authorsoundsbetterthanwriter - Perhaps, we can compare it to nollybooks, but you know series find their own voice once they start.
    @anon 1 and 2 - Have you heard that long cliched saying: 'one's man meat is another man's poison?'
    @Empi - Now what do we say to that :)

  6. Ali Abare11:21:00 am

    I see this as an opening for many aspiring writers seeking outlets for their creativity. The idea of being restrictive is just of the mind as even writing within given bounds surely require a certain measure of mental exertion, creative imput and a strong will to achieve results.

  7. Anonymous4:57:00 pm

    is it too late to submit. i'm just coming across this.


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