Novel competitions for 2019

[Updated 19/8/2019] It’s been a while since I did a round-up of novel competitions, so here are a few dates to put in your diary.

Sometimes I find it helpful having a deadline as motivation to actually complete a project. But I recently attempted to write a 3-5 page synopsis of my incomplete WIP for a competition which left me convinced I was wasting my time and who on earth would want to read THAT? It was the wrong time to do it – I need to focus on finishing a first draft before worrying about the outside world’s opinion of it. But this list may be of use to someone else out there. Good luck!

  • Comedy Women in Print Prize
  • Closing date: February 28
  • Prizes: 1st place an advance of £5,000 and a publishing contract with Harper Collins UK. The runner-up wins a free place on the University of Hertfordshire’s MA in Creative Writing. The judges include Marian Keyes, so this is a very high-profile competition
  • Requirement: a one-page synopsis and the first 5,000 words of an unpublished comedy novel, which needs to be a completed work of at least 85,000 words. If selected for the shortlist, you will be asked to submit a full manuscript
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally to female writers
  • JG Farrell Award 2019
  • Closing date: May 17
  • Prize: a place on the five-day Novel Writing workshop with author and teacher Anjali Joseph as part of the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry, Co Cork, July 15-19. Accommodation will also be covered
  • Requirement: the first chapter of a novel (max 3,000 words) sent via email and two printed copies sent by post (details are not yet on the website but should be available soon)
  • Entry fee: free to enter. Open to writers resident in Munster
  • The Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award for a First Novel (The Bridport Prize)
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000 plus mentoring by editorial and manuscript assessment service The Literary Consultancy; 2nd place £500 plus a manuscript assessment; three shortlisted writers will each win £100. An anthology will be produced with extracts from the 20 longlisted novels. This will be published in October to coincide with the prize-giving ceremony
  • Requirement: 5,000-8,000 words of the opening chapters, plus a synopsis of max 300 words
  • Entry fee: £20 for each novel submitted. The award is open to writers living in the UK and Ireland
  • First Novel Prize 2019 
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £500, 3rd place £100. The competition is run by UK literary consultants Daniel Goldsmith Associates Ltd
  • Requirement: full manuscript of min 50,000 words and a synopsis. Only completed novels will be accepted. There is no maximum requirement for the number of words
  • Entry fee: £25 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Prize 2019
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000 and an introduction to Nelle Andrew, a primary agent at Peters, Fraser + Dunlop (PFD. One runner-up wins £250 and a manuscript review
  • Requirement: first chapter of up to 5,000 words, a 300-word synopsis and a cover letter with biog. Shortlisted writers will be asked to submit 20,000 words (includes the initial entry). The novel must be completed or close to completion
  • Entry fee: £20 per entry. Appears to be open internationally
  • Daily Mail First Novel Competition 2019
  • Closing date: June 14
  • Prizes: a £20,000 advance fee, the services of top literary agent Luigi Bonomi and guaranteed publication by Penguin Random House UK. There is also potential for runners-up to be offered book deals and/or feedback. (In my interview here with Cork writer Catherine Kirwan, she describes how she was offered a book deal for her debut thriller Darkest Truth after making the shortlist in 2016)
  • Requirement: the first 3,000 words plus a 600-word synopsis
  • Entry fee: free to enter. Open to writers resident in the UK or Republic of Ireland
  • Impress Prize for New Writers
  • Closing date: June 30
  • Prize: £500 and Impress Books will consider the book for publication
  • Requirement: a 6,000-word sample of the manuscript, synopsis, publishing rationale (nope, no idea what that is) and bio
  • Entry fee: £25 per entry, multiple entries allowed
  • 2019 Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize
  • Closing date: July 15 (opens for entries April 15)
  • Prize: £3,000 advance against publication with Fitzcarraldo Editions. The winner will subsequently be published in Fitzcarraldo Editions’ fiction list
  • Requirement: full manuscript of min 30,000 words, cover letter including a biog, contact details and brief outline of the novel 
  • Entry fee: free, one entry only permitted. Open to residents of the UK and Ireland
  • Curtis Brown First Novel Prize
  • Closing date: August 1 (closes 12 noon)
  • Prizes: 1st place £3,000 and an offer of representation by Curtis Brown; 2nd place a three-month novel-writing course at Curtis Brown Creative, and a mentoring session with one of the Curtis Brown literary agent team. Four shortlisted entrants will be offered a place on a six-week online course with Curtis Brown Creative and a mentoring session with one of the Curtis Brown literary agent team. The head judge is Tracy Chevalier
  • Requirement: first 10,000 words plus a one-page synopsis
  • Entry fee: free to enter. Open to writers resident in the UK or Ireland
  • The Retreat West Novel Prize 2019
  • Closing date: August 18
  • Prizes: 1st place £500 advance and a standard publishing contract with UK independent press Retreat West Books for a paperback and ebook. 2nd place a full MS critique and editorial report from Amanda Saint (author, publisher and founder of Retreat West Books). 3rd place a year’s Gold Author Membership with Retreat West
  • Requirement: first 7,500 words and a synopsis of max 500 words. Shortlisted writers will be asked to submit their full manuscript
  • Entry fee: £15 per entry
  • Novel Fair 2020
  • Closing date: September 27
  • Prize: 12 shortlisted writers will be chosen to participate in a Dragon’s Den-type fair, giving them the opportunity to bypass the slush pile, pitch their ideas and place their synopsis and sample chapters directly into the hands of top publishers and literary agents. 12 longlisted writers will receive a critique of their submissions
  • Requirement: a synopsis of a max 300 words and up to five chapters of a novel, which should be approx 10,000 words
  • Entry fee: €50 per entry, one entry only permitted. Open internationally, but successful participants will have to be able to attend the Novel Fair at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin on February 14, 2020
  • Grindstone Literary 2019 International Novel Prize
  • Closing date: September 28
  • Prize: £1,000 plus publication in an anthology, a discounted place on a Curtis Brown Creative course, as well as personalised feedback. The judge for this competition is Lucy Brown of Curtis Brown Books
  • Requirement: 3,000 words plus a synopsis
  • Entry fee: £22 per entry, one entry only permitted. Open to residents of the UK and Ireland
  • Mslexia Fiction Competition 2019: Adult Novel
  • Closing date: September 30
  • Prize: 1st place £5,000 and the option of representation by agent Charlotte Robertson. The winner and four finalists will receive manuscript feedback, and introductions to agents and editors at a special event held in London
  • Requirement: the first 5,000 words of completed, unpublished novels for adult readers, of at least 50,000 words in length
  • Entry fee: £25 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open to unpublished female writers internationally
  • Gransnet and HQ Writing Competition
  • Closing date: September 30
  • Prize: a publishing contract with HQ, an imprint of HarperCollins UK. Five shortlisted writers will receive editorial feedback
  • Requirement: a one-page synopsis and the first 20,000 words of their unpublished novel, which needs to be a completed work of at least 85,000 words. Stories must feature a female main character over the age of 40
  • Entry details: free to enter. Open to women writers over the age of 40 resident in the UK or Ireland
  • 2019 Exeter Novel Prize
  • Closing date: January 1, 2020
  • Prizes: 1st place £500 plus trophy. Five finalists each receive £100 plus a trophy
  • Requirement: first 10,000 words plus a synopsis of max 500 words
  • Entry fee: £18 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally



8 thoughts on “Novel competitions for 2019

    1. I was surprised at how many were open to international entries as it seems more complicated than, say, a short story competition. Hope there’s something suitable for you there, Jan!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you for compiling this list, Anne. Am curious about one thing. Given the entry fees and the fact that all you initially submit is the first 5-6000 words of your MS, I can’t help but think about the strongly worded advice I first heard when I entered this arena, which was not to pay an agency a reading fee. I know there is a cash prize and chance of representation (which is the end game any time you query an agency) , but these agencies are flirting with a fine line here. Would be different if these were contests awarded by neutral bodies, not those with a vested interest.


    1. Hi Karen, it’s certainly a thorny issue at the moment and one I struggle with myself (who has the money to enter loads of competitions, particularly novel ones which have quite steep entry fees?). But I guess readers have to be paid somehow for wading through the huge amounts of submissions that most competitions receive, as well as the judges for their time, before you even get to any prize funds. I trust that anyone who reads my lists will make their own judgement call on whether a particular competition is WORTH entering – and read the relevant fine print beforehand! Plus of course, there are also the traditional, free submission channels as well.

      I recently compiled a list of free competitions (short story, novel etc) if that’s of any use to you:

      Thanks for reading, Anne


  2. Great list, Anne! I’ve been checking out your blog, and I think you would be a good fit for a monthly author blog hop that I run. It’s called #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, and about 30 of us post on the theme of learning and resources for authors the third Wednesday of every month. I started the hop three years ago as a way for authors to both learn from one another and gain traction on the web, because the hop is also about reciprocal commenting/liking, and we share one another’s posts around social media. Anyway, more info about the hop is below, and whether you join or not, I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

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