A Call for Joy


For too long the stories of Black boys have been written for us and our joy has been omitted. No longer. I want to present, read, and tell stories that center the joy of Black boyhood. 

I am putting together and editing a to-be-announced Middle Grade anthology (i.e. targeted towards readers age 8-12) that will center the joy of Black boyhood. A stellar group of authors have agreed to come with me on this journey, and a fantastic publisher is committed to publishing these stories.

Something that is near and dear to my heart is the idea of mentoring and providing space for up-and-coming writers. To that end, I am launching a call for submissions with the hope of finding two writers to be published in this anthology. I did not get to where I am by myself. Other authors reached back, boosted, lifted, and helped me climb, and I want to do the same.


  • A Black male/non-binary author as specified above
  • Unagented and non-traditionally published  (if you’ve previously published novellas or short stories, that’s fine!)
  • Must be 18 years old or older in order to submit a story

Submission Requirements

  • Stories should be typed in a manuscript format and emailed as an attachment to BlackBoyStories@gmail.com
  • Submissions should be submitted between August 16th and November 1st, 2020, at 11:59pm ET. Submissions sent before the call for submission opens and after the call for submission ends will not be considered.
  • In addition to the short story, all submissions must include a 150 words or less bio that tells me about you.
  • Due to the volume of submissions, submissions will not be returned and comments will not be provided. (It’s just me, y’all.)
  • If selected, then you agree upon request to cooperate with the editor (me) and the publisher and in the editing and publishing process. You further understand that you will be asked to sign a contributor agreement in a standard form acceptable to the editor (me) and the publisher, and your submission may not be published if you elect not to sign.  You further agree that the submission may be edited for length, format or otherwise by the editor (me) and the publisher.
  • If selected, you will be paid $2,000 on delivery and acceptance, and you will receive credit upon publishing.

Short Story Requirements

  • Short stories must be written for a Middle Grade audience, i.e. for readers age 8 to 12 years old. Stories can be of any genre, i.e. contemporary, science-fiction, fantasy, etc.
  • Stories must be no more than 3000 words in length.
  • Stories should not have been previously commercially published and you must  be the sole author of the story you submit.
  • Stories should center joy (which doesn’t mean excluding other experiences) and feature and center Black boys (which doesn’t mean excluding other characters. Say it with me: Centering doesn’t mean excluding.)
  • All short story submissions must be typed in a manuscript format.
  • The submission must not contain any material that violates or infringes upon the rights of any third party, including without limitation any copyright, trademark or right of privacy or publicity, or that is unlawful, in violation of or contrary to any applicable law or regulation, or the use of which as described in this call for submissions by the editor would require a license or permission from or payment to any third party; and the submission must not contain any material that is defamatory.
  • By submitting, the applicant represents and warrants that the applicant owns the copyright in the submission, has complied with all of the requirements and has obtained all permissions, licenses and consents that are necessary for the submitting of the submission and to the use of the submission by the anthology editor and publisher and their licensees. The anthology editor reserves the right in the editor’s sole discretion to disqualify any submission that the editor determines does not comply with these requirements, or to require the applicant to make such changes to any submission as are necessary to make it compliant.


Disclaimer: There is no guarantee that your submission will be published or read in its entirety. Kwame Mbalia has no obligation to applicants whose submissions are not selected.