The McCoy Grant

2023 McCoy Grant Recipients

Kendra Gayle Lee

Owner of Bookish Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia.
“There’s something so magical about people responding to the stories I tell. Receiving the Sarah McCoy grant felt like a huge vote of confidence from the Universe– and a much appreciated financial boost to support my writing. I believe Black Lives Matter. I care deeply about housing justice, education, reproductive justice and finding magic in this world.”
Kendra lives with her “most adorable” 7th grader, an incorrigible Boxer named Delilah, and her bestie/partner Simon. She’s queer, sober for 14+ years, loves coffee, and writing about all of those. Follow her @remotelyintellectual.

Rachel Randolph

Frontline bookseller at Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee.
“I am so thankful to Sarah McCoy and the folks at SIBA for the opportunity to apply for this grant. Elevating female and nonbinary voices is of the utmost importance, and I hope the stories I write will always do so. I know this grant will be a stepping stone that I look back on with immense gratitude. Thank you!”
Rachel is a recent graduate of Lipscomb University with a degree in Creative Writing. She is, at heart, a fantasy writer but also a part-time poet who is working on her first fantasy novel. Her work explores the divinity of being human and the magic taken for granted in the modern world. She lives with her Pit Bull baby Hermes. Follow her @ReadWriteRach.

Submission is now open.

Who is The McCoy Grant for?

The McCoy Grant is for unpublished southern women or nonbinary booksellers who harbor ambitions to be published writers and meet all the following criteria:

  1. Identify as a woman or nonbinary. (Whether they are cisgender, transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, or bigender.)
  2. Have a novel, memoir, essay collection or poetry collection in progress.
  3. Are a U.S. citizen.
  4. Are based in the territories of Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Mississippi.
  5. Are at least 18 years old.
  6. Previous McCoy Grant recipients are ineligible. 

** Must be unpublished as an author of fiction, portions of memoir, or poetry, including trade publishing, self-publishing in the U.S. or abroad. An applicant with a book deal for an as-yet unpublished book is considered published for the purposes of this grant and is ineligible. Applicants remain eligible if they have published essays, short stories, and/or articles autonomous of the current work being submitted.

What should The McCoy Grant be used for?

Two grants of $1,500 each to be used toward craft development, work-related materials, childcare, bills, or any other financial obstacle.

How do I apply?

Applications will close on March 21, 2024. Recipients will be announced in July and awarded at SIBA’s 2024 New Voices New Rooms Town Hall meeting in August. Full eligibility details and online grant application can be accessed through the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, an organization dedicated to literacy, diversity, and creating a world where all stories are given equal voice and respect. Thank you for being our bookseller champions.

Please check back for information about 2024’s application season and Follow Sarah’s Instagram @SarahMMcCoy for more news about The McCoy Grant.

Letter To Applicants

Dear Friend,

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to be able to give back financially to the community of book people who have given so much time, energy, and compassion to me. The McCoy Grant is a love letter to you. So, I hope you take the opportunity to submit.

I’ve wanted to do an initiative like this since I was in MFA school, teaching undergraduate students during the days to pay for my own courses. Between office hours, grading papers, studying, and writing, I also took on a weekend job to navigate the bills that seemed to never stop piling up. I swore then that when I could, I would help other writers in similar financial and time straits.

If you’re a hoper, a dreamer, a story stoker opening your laptop and a 99¢ can of tuna fish on the coffee table for dinner while you do the work that really lights your fire… then you’re a kindred spirit. That was me, too. Still is on many nights. You are not alone. $1,500 won’t magically transform everything, but it’s enough to buy bread to go with that tuna. If you have someone in mind who could benefit from this grant, please share.

No effort is small. I’m a woman who believes in the power of positive multiplicity. Every word is a precious stone. One by one, they build castles, create reserves, and fortify our imaginations. If you are an unpublished, bookseller writer with a stack of hidden words, take a step of faith. You never know what wonders you might unleash. I believe in you.

With great love,