Novel competitions for 2020

[Updated 27/5/2020] In keeping with my most pressing current project, I have a list of upcoming novel prizes for you. From women-only awards to tales of adventure, hopefully there will be something here for everyone. As always, please do read the fine print before you enter anything. Good luck!

  • Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020
  • Closing date: March 2
  • Prizes: 1st place a publishing contract with HarperCollins and a £5,000 advance. The publisher reserves the right to publish in the format of their choice. 2nd place receives £2,000 from the University of Hertfordshire and mentoring from their MA course in Creative Writing. A second runner-up will receive a place on the online MA in Comedy Writing from Falmouth University
  • Requirement: the first 8,000 words of an unpublished comedy novel, which needs to be a completed work of at least 85,000 words, and a one-page synopsis. If selected for the longlist, you will be asked to submit a full manuscript
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open to female (identified) writers internationally
Do you have a completed adventure novel?
  • Wilbur Smith Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript
  • Closing date: March 2
  • Prize: a publishing deal with Bonnier Books UK. The winner must also agree to representation with The Bravo Blue Agency, in association with Tibor Jones. Six shortlisted writers will be offered one-to-one manuscript development with UK literary consultant David Llewelyn, intended to help each writer reach the standard necessary for submission to agents and publishers
  • Requirement: a completed manuscript of at least 50,000 words in length. 75,000+ is ideal. Please note this is an adventure writing award (see site for their definition of the term)
  • Entry fee: £20 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Grindstone Literary 2020 International Novel Prize
  • Closing date: March 28
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £500. Four shortlisted entrants will receive £50. All prize winners receive a 15% discount for CB Creative (Curtis Brown creative writing online courses)
  • Requirement: up to 3,000 words of the opening to any finished or part finished manuscript of any genre, and a synopsis of no more than 300 words
  • Entry fee: £16 per entry, multiple entries permitted. There’s an option to get feedback on your entry for an extra £8. Open internationally
  • The Bridport Prize for Novel (The Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award)
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,500, mentoring by The Literary Consultancy, a consultation with literary agent AM Heath and publisher Tinder Press. 2nd place £750 with manuscript assessment and editorial advice from The Literary Consultancy. Three shortlisted writers will be awarded £100 each. All finalists will be invited to the awards ceremony and an excerpt from their submission will be published in The Bridport Prize anthology
  • Requirement: 5,000-8,000 words plus a 300-word synopsis. Longlisted writers will be asked for a total of 15,000 words (which includes the original word count). Shortlisted writers have to submit 30,000 words (again including the original entry and longlisted word count)
  • Entry fee: £20 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Some sponsored free places are available, see site for details. Open internationally
  • BPA First Novel Award 2020
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000 and an introduction to UK agents Felicity Bryan Associates.  2nd place a manuscript review by the Blue Pencil Agency and agent introduction. Highly Commended writers will receive an agent introduction
  • Requirement: the opening chapter or chapters of up to 5,000 words plus a 300-word synopsis and a covering letter. Shortlisted writers will be asked to submit 20,000 words (this includes the initial submission)
  • Entry fee: £20 per entry. Appears to be open internationally
  • The Bath Novel Award 2020
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £3,000. Shortlisted writers will receive manuscript feedback and literary agent introductions. The writer of the most promising longlisted manuscript will receive a place worth £1,800 on the 18-week online course Edit Your Novel the Professional Way from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy
  • Requirement: the first 5,000 words plus a one-page synopsis (longlisted writers have to submit a full manuscript)
  • Entry fee: £28 per entry, multiple entries permitted. There are some sponsored free places for low-income writers. Open internationally
  • First Novel Prize 2020
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £250, 3rd place £100. The competition is run by literary consultants Daniel Goldsmith Associates
  • Requirement: completed novels of over 50,000 words (there’s no maximum word limit, unusually) plus a synopsis
  • Entry fee: £25 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The Yeovil Literary Prize for Novel
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £250, 3rd place £100. The winner will have three opportunities to pitch their novel to literary agents: Cathryn Summerhayes of Curtis Brown; Luigi Bonomi, literary agent at LBA; and Clare Conville of Conville & Walsh
  • Requirement: opening chapters and a synopsis, coming to a combined max of 15,000 words
  • Entry fee: £12 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Madeleine Milburn Mentorship Programme
  • Closing date: June 1
  • Prizes: six writers will be chosen for a six-month mentorship programme with the Madeleine Milburn Literary, Film and TV Agency, London. This will include: an editorial letter for the first 15,000-20,000 words (structural edit); phone conversation or meeting with a literary agent; follow-up read at 6 months; mentorship programme day; representation from an MM Agency literary agent
  • Requirement: 15,000-20,000 words of your manuscript, along with a synopsis and pitch letter
  • Entry fee: free to enter, presumably one entry only. Open internationally
  • JG Farrell Fiction Award
  • Closing date: EXTENDED to June 5 (the West Cork Literary Festival has been cancelled but the award is going ahead)
  • Prize: a free place on a five-day novel online workshop with The Good Son author Paul McVeigh (worth €225). This prize was originally to be taken as part of a trip to the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry, west Cork, scheduled for July, so they’re still hammering out alternative arrangements. The good news is that there will be online workshops and readings
  • Requirement: an opening chapter of max 3,000 words
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open to writers resident in Munster
  • Writers & Artists Working Class Writers’ Prize 2020
  • Closing date: June 15
  • Prizes: 1st place a year-long writing mentoring with judge Lisa McInerney; a cash prize of £200; a year’s free subscription to The Society of Authors; free admission to any one-day W&A event; the latest edition of either the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook or Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook; a copy of the Writers’ & Artists’ Guide To Getting Published and Writers’ & Artists’ Guide To How To Hook an Agent. Five shortlisted entries will receive a copy of one of the latest Yearbooks, W&A writing guides, as well as a year’s free subscription to The Society of Authors
  • Requirement: the beginning of an unpublished work-in-progress, max 2,000 words, a one-page synopsis that corresponds and a description of up to 200 words outlining your writing background and how you self-identify as a working-class writer (this description does not have to be 200 words. The organisers also stress that they are not looking for writing ‘credentials’ or steadfast justification, but simply how this prize speaks to you)
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open to writers resident in UK or Ireland
  • The Novel Prize
  • Closing date: July 1
  • Prize: US$10,000 to the winner in the form of an advance against royalties, and simultaneous publication of their novel in the UK and Ireland by London-based Fitzcarraldo Editions, in Australia and New Zealand by Sydney publisher Giramondo, and in North America by New York’s New Directions, all working in collaboration
  • Requirement: full manuscript of minimum 30,000 words, a cover letter including a biographical note and brief outline of the novel
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open internationally (make sure you check which region to submit your entry to)
  • Irish Novel Fair 2021
  • Closing date: September 25
  • Prizes: Dragons’ Den type showcase, meeting agents and publishers from Ireland and the UK
  • Requirement: a synopsis of max 300 words and up to five chapters, which should be 10,000 words (+/- 10%)
  • Entry fee: €55 per entry, one entry only permitted. Open internationally, however in order to be eligible, applicants must be available to attend the whole day of the Fair on February 12, 2021
  • Flash 500 Novel Opening Chapter & Synopsis Competition
  • Closing date: October 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, 2nd place £200. Entries will be judged by Headline Publishing
  • Requirement: an opening chapter of up to 3,000 words, plus a one-page synopsis
  • Entry fee: €13/£10 per entry, multiple entries permitted. There is also an option to receive a critique of your chapter and synopsis for €32.50/£25 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The Caledonia Novel Award 2021
  • Closing date: November 1
  • Prizes: £1,500, and a trophy specially designed by Edinburgh artist Lucy Roscoe. The writer of the best novel from the British Isles and Ireland, as judged by literary agent Laura Williams, will receive a free place on a writing course at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre in the Scottish Highlands. The winner will be able to choose from a selection of week-long residential courses taking place in 2021. The prize includes accommodation, food and tuition
  • Requirement: first 20 pages and a 200-word synopsis
  • Entry fee: £25 per entry, multiple entries permitted. There are a number of sponsored entries for low-income writers. Open internationally

Photos: Pexels/Pixabay; Nino Caré/Pixabay; Tafilah Yusof/Pixabay

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