The unweekly herding: a list of novel competitions

I’m currently working on a book project that feels like wading through mud which has been liberally infused with treacle. And it is wreaking havoc on my fancy lead boots. The one thing that seems to help me focus is a deadline, so I’ve been looking at novel competitions for anything that might be a good fit later on down the line. I’ve noticed that while there are many helpful blogs around listing short story awards, the same can’t be said for novel prizes. So, for anyone with a WIP that’s in better shape than mine, here is a compilation of what’s coming up so far this year in Ireland and the UK.

Competitions are listed in order of closing date. They’re open internationally unless otherwise stated. As always, do let me know if I’ve missed anything major. And please read all the fine print before entering any competition – I don’t want to be held responsible if you have to hand over your firstborn as part of a binding contract.


  • The Bath Novel Award
  • Closing date: April 30
  • Prize: 1st prize £2,500. Shortlisted writers will receive literary agent introductions and manuscript feedback. The writer of the most promising longlisted novel will receive a place on Learn to Edit Your Novel the Professional Way – an 18-week online course  from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, valued at £1,800
  • Requirement: the first 5,000 words plus a synopsis. Manuscripts can be for adults or YA
  • Entry fee: £25


  • IMG-0784
    Sunny Bantry – if you’re lucky

    JG Farrell Fiction Award 2018

  • Closing date: May 18
  • Prize: a free place on a five-day Novel Writing workshop with American novelist Katharine Weber as part of the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry, Co Cork (July 13-20) plus accommodation
  • Requirement: first chapter of a novel-in-progress, max 3,000 words
  • Entry fee: free to enter (only open to writers resident in Munster)


  • Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award (part of The Bridport Prize)
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prize: 1st prize £1,000 plus mentoring by The Literary Consultancy, 2nd prize £500 plus manuscript assessment, 3rd prize £100 for three shortlisted entries
  • Requirement: opening chapters of 5,000-8,000 words, plus a synopsis of max 300 words
  • Entry fee: £20 (open to writers in Britain and the Republic of Ireland)


  • First Novel Prize 2018 (run by literary consultants Daniel Goldsmith Associates Ltd)
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st prize £1,000, 2nd prize £250, 3rd prize £100
  • Requirement: full manuscript for completed book of min 50,000 words plus synopsis
  • Entry fee: £25


  • feat-rjsearchforabestseller2018Richard and Judy’s Search for a Bestseller 2018
  • Closing date: June 14 (shortlisted writers will by contacted by June 28!)
  • Prize: £30,000 publishing deal with Bonnier Zaffre and specialist advice from literary agency Furniss Lawton
  • Requirement: 10,000-12,000 excerpt, synopsis (max 1,000 words) and author bio
  • Entry fee: free to enter (open to writers resident in the UK or Ireland)


  • Impress Prize for New Writers
  • Closing date: June 29 (opens for entries May 1)
  • Prize: publishing contract with Impress Books in both print and eBook, and a £500 advance
  • Requirement: a 6,000-word sample, synopsis, publishing rationale (nope, no idea what that is) and bio
  • Entry fee: £25 per entry, multiple entries allowed


  • Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award
  • Closing date: June 30
  • Prize: 1st prize £1,000 plus introduction to agent Madeleine Milburn, 2nd prize £250 and manuscript feedback
  • Requirement: the first chapter(s) up to 5,000 words, a synopsis of max 300 words and short bio
  • Entry fee:  £20 per entry, multiple entries permitted


  • The Daily Mail Penguin Random House First Novel Competition
  • Closing date: July 13
  • Prizes: 1st prize is an advance of £20,000, an offer of publication and representation by literary agent Luigi Bonomi of LBA books Ltd. There will also be a Highly Commended prize of representation by LBA
  • Requirement:  the opening chapter(s) of a first novel of max 3,000 words, plus a synopsis of no more than 600 words
  • Entry fee: free (open to writers resident in the UK or Ireland)


  • Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize 2018
  • Closing date: July 15
  • Prize: an advance of £3,000 against publication with Fitzcarraldo Editions
  • Requirement:  full manuscript (min 30,000 words), cover letter with biog and brief outline of the novel
  • Entry fee: appears to be free (open to writers resident in the UK or Ireland)


  • Cinnamon Press Annual Debut Fiction Prize (for a novel, novella or short story collection)
  • Closing date: July 31
  • Prize: 1 year’s free mentoring worth £1,000 or (for those who have completed mentoring with Cinnamon Press) 100 copies of the novel/collection and publishing contract
  • Requirement: the first 10,000 words of a novel or novella, or three short stories. Shortlisted entrants will be asked to submit full manuscripts
  • Entry fee: £12


  • Copy_of_Novel_Fair_2018_Social_740xIrish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair 2019 (formerly Greenbean Novel Fair)
  • Closing date: September 28
  • Prize: 12 writers will be offered the chance to pitch their novels to publishers and agents at a Dragon’s Den-style event, as well as a workshop to help them prepare their presentations
  • Requirement: up to five chapters or 10,000 words (+/- 10%), plus a synopsis of max 300 words
  • Entry fee: €50 or €40 for IWC members, one entry only. While the competition is open internationally, successful candidates have to be available to attend the fair in February 2019



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