Novel competitions for 2022

[UPDATED 6/8/22] High time for a fresh round-up, I feel. Here are the novel competitions currently open for entries, with a wide variety of prizes and judges. They range from established awards like the Bridport Prize to newcomer the Cheshire Novel Prize (which ambitiously promises feedback on every single entry!).

Entering competitions like this can be a great opportunity to test the waters with your WIP, and placing is an encouraging sign that you’re on the right track. It also gives weight to your query letter when you’re submitting to agents. Some writers even find their agents or publishing deals through them, even if they don’t make it all the way to the winners podium. If nothing else, commiting to a deadline or two will hopefully provide motivation to make progress with your WIP – it has certainly helped me in the past when I’ve felt stuck.

I will update the list as more competitons set out their 2022 stalls, so do pop back from time to time. As ever, check out the small print before entering to make sure you’re happy with the T&Cs. And the very best of luck!

  • Retreat West First Chapter Competition 2022
  • Closing date: January 30
  • Prizes: 1st place a submission package review (cover letter, synopsis and first three chapters) and feedback from literary agent Nicola Barr from The Bent Agency. 2nd place feedback on first three chapters from Amanda Saint, publisher and commissioning editor at Retreat West Books. Shortlisted writers will receive short feedback from Nicola, which will be provided in the blog announcing the results
  • Judge: Nicola Barr
  • Requirement: a first chapter of 3,500 words max
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Reflex Press Novella Award 2022
  • Closing date: January 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000. Two runners-up will each receive £500. All three will be published by Reflex Press
  • Judges: doesn’t say
  • Requirement: a full manuscript of 15,000-40,000 words. Novellas-in-flash will be accepted
  • Entry fee: an unusual one – simply buy a book (print or eBook) from the Reflex Press online bookshop, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize
  • Closing date: February 11 (12 midday)
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,500. The winner and shortlisted entrants will each receive a half-hour, one-to-one consultation with the Peters Fraser + Dunlop literary agency (subject to them not already having an agent), who will give editorial feedback and discuss the marketability of the work submitted
  • Judges: panel includes PFD literary agent Tim Bates, novelist Sara Collins and HarperCollins editorial director Phoebe Morgan
  • Requirement: the first 40-50 pages and a synopsis of three-five pages long
  • Entry fee: £12 per entry, one entry only. Some subsidised entries available for low-income writers, to be submitted by February 9. Open to unpublished women writers who live in the UK or Ireland
  • Spotlight First Novel Award 2022
  • Closing date: February 14
  • Prize: a mentoring package with UK literary consultancy Adventures in Fiction worth up to £1,950, which will include a full manuscript appraisal, a development strategy and two consultations. The winner will also have a dedicated author profile page on the website
  • Judges: doesn’t say
  • Requirement: the first page of your novel and a one-page synopsis
  • Entry fee: £16 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award 2022
  • Closing date: February 28 (6pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place £500. Shortlisted authors will receive a brief professional assessment of their entry. The winning entries are sent to UK publishers and agents and will be given public exposure on the CWA platforms and in national media
  • Judges: the longlisted submissions will be read by a judging panel comprising crime fiction editors from major publishing houses and literary agents
  • Requirement: the first 3,000 words of a crime novel, and a synopsis of max 1,500 words
  • Entry fee: £36 per entry (blimey!), multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Cheshire Novel Prize
  • Closing date: April 1
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,500 and an engraved trophy. One Highly Commended writer will receive £500, while one shortlisted writer will win three mentoring sessions with author, mentor and editor Anna Vaught. In addition, throughout January-March, there will be a monthly lucky dip draw and one entrant each month will win a free manuscript assessment worth £895. Shortlisted writers will be invited to a lunch in London in August. It’s also worth noting that the competition promises a few lines of feedback for EVERY entry
  • Judges: it’s an impressive panel for a brand new competition! Literary agents Juliet Mushens from Mushens Entertainment and Honor Spreckley from RCW, Penguin Michael Joseph editorial director Clio Cornish, writers Moyette Gibbons and Awais Khan, and book doctor Sally O-J
  • Requirement: first 5,000 words of your novel and a one-page synopsis
  • Entry fee: £25 per entry, multiple entries permitted. A percentage of the entry fees will be donated to the judges’ charities of choice. Some sponsored places are available, on application. Open internationally
  • BPA First Novel Award 2021
  • Closing date: May 29
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000 and introduction to an agent. One runner-up will receive a manuscript review and an agent introduction. One Highly Commended writer will receive an agent introduction
  • Judges: literary agents Rowan Lawton and Marina de Pass from The Soho Agency, and author Jo Bloom
  • Requirement: an opening chapter or chapters of up to 5,000 words plus a 300-word synopsis and a covering letter
  • Entry fee: £20 per entry, multiple entries permitted. There are twenty free entries available for UK-based writers on low incomes or from communities traditionally underrepresented in publishing, on application. Open internationally
  • The Yeovil Literary Prize for Novel
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,250, 2nd place £300, 3rd place £125
  • Judge: author Barney Norris
  • Requirement: opening chapters and a synopsis, coming to a combined total of 10,000 words max
  • Entry fee: £14.50 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • First Novel Prize 2022
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £250, 3rd place £100. The competition is run by UK literary consultants Daniel Goldsmith Associates
  • Judges: Jamie Cowen, a literary agent with The Ampersand Agency, and Melissa Cox, Editorial Director at Coronet, an imprint to Hodder & Stoughton/Hachette UK
  • Requirement: completed novels of over 50,000 words (no maximum word limit) plus a synopsis
  • Entry fee: £25 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The Bridport Prize / Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,500, mentoring by The Literary Consultancy, and consultations with London literary agency AM Heath and publisher Tinder Press. One runner-up will win £750 and a manuscript assessment by The Literary Consultancy. Three shortlisted writers will receive £150. All finalists will be featured in the Bridport Prize annual anthology
  • Judge: novelist Monique Roffey
  • Requirement: opening chapters of 5,000-8,000 words plus a 300-word synopsis. Novellas are permitted provided the author would be able to submit approximately 30,000 words if selected for the shortlist
  • Entry fee: £20 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open to writers resident in UK or Ireland, and British writers living overseas
  • Fiction Factory First Chapter + Synopsis Competition
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £500 and an appraisal. All shortlisted entrants will receive an appraisal
  • Judge: literary agent Joanna Swainson of Hardman & Swainson
  • Requirement: 5,000 words of your first chapter and a one-page synopsis
  • Entry fee: early bird entry of £15 until March 15, thereafter £35, which includes optional assessment, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • W&A Working-Class Writers’ Prize
  • Closing date: July 18
  • Prizes: 1st place £200, two mentoring sessions with judge Jessica Andrews, access to a number of Writers’ & Artists’ writing and publishing events, one year’s membership to The Society of Authors, a writing guide bundle including the latest edition of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook or the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ YearbookWriters’ & Artists’ Guide To Getting Published or Writers’ & Artists’ Guide To How To Hook an Agent and a selection of Bloomsbury books. The five shortlisted entries will receive a writing guide bundle, one year’s membership for The Society of Authors, as well as support from the W&A team
  • Judge: author Jessica Andrews
  • Requirement: first 2,000 words and a one-page synopsis. You must also include a short piece of writing (200 words) in the covering letter about yourself and why this prize speaks to you
  • Entry fee: free to enter. Open to writers living in the UK or Ireland
  • 2022 Madeleine Milburn Mentorship Programme
  • Closing date: July 31 (5.30pm UK time)
  • Prizes: there will be six spaces on the mentorship scheme run by Madeleine Milburn Literary, Film and TV Agency, all for writers from underrepresented backgrounds. This includes, but is not limited to, writers from an ethnic minority background, LGBTQ+ writers, writers who are disabled or neurodiverse, and writers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The programme will include online sessions given by editors, agents on international rights, film and TV, as well as bestselling authors. These sessions will give valuable insight into the industry process from pitch to publication. Each mentee will be partnered with an MM literary agent mentor and will receive personalised editorial feedback on their manuscript, as well as guaranteed representation from an agent
  • Judges: doesn’t say, but presumably Madeleine Milburn staff
  • Requirement: the first chapter, along with a two-page synopsis and pitch letter
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open internationally
  • Wilbur Smith Unpublished Manuscript Competition/New Voices Award
  • Closing date: August 10
  • Prizes: the award will support five authors in developing a WIP over the course of eight months, from initial idea to complete first draft. Each writer will receive regular one-to-one mentoring and editorial guidance from a first-class editor over the eight-month period. Upon completion, each manuscript will be considered by publisher Bonnier Books UK and all writers will receive guidance on seeking a literary agent
  • Judges: doesn’t say
  • Requirement: three chapters and a full plot outline of no more than 1,000 words detailing where you imagine the story will go. ‘Work must be intended for an adult readership and set in our world, whether that’s contemporary or historical. It must be a work of narrative fiction and commercially viable’
  • Entry fee: £20 per entry. Ten fee waivers are available for authors who cannot make the financial commitments of entry, on application. Open internationally
  • Flash 500 Novel Opening & Synopsis Competition
  • Closing date: October 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, 2nd place £200
  • Judges: judged by Headline Publishing, which publishes Maggie O’Farrell, Neil Gaiman and Martina Cole, among others
  • Requirement: first 3,000 words and a one-page synopsis
  • Entry fee: £10 for one entry, £18 for two, £26 for three. There is also an option to receive feedback for £25 per entry. Open internationally
  • The Caledonia Novel Award 2023
  • Closing date: November 1
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,500, and a specially designed trophy. There is also a special prize for the best novel from the UK and Ireland of a place on a writing course at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre in the Scottish Highlands
  • Judge: literary agent with Johnson & Alcock Charlotte Seymour
  • Requirement: first 20 pages of a novel and a 200-word synopsis
  • Entry fee: £25 per entry. A number of sponsored places are available to low-income writers. Open internationally
  • The 2022 Exeter Novel Prize
  • Closing date: January 1, 2023
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000 plus a trophy. ​Five runners-up will receive £100 and a paperweight
  • Judge: literary agent with Janklow & Nesbit Hellie Ogden
  • Requirement: first 10,000 words of a novel and a synopsis of max 500 word
  • Entry fee: £20 per entry, multiple entries permitted. A number of sponsored places are available to low-income writers. Open internationally
  • Reflex Press Novella Award 2023
  • Closing date: January 31, 2023
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000 and publication with Reflex Press. Two runners-up will each receive £500 and publication with Reflex Press
  • Judges: members of the Reflex Press team
  • Requirement: a completed novella of 15,000-40,000 words
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Some free entry places available on request. Open internationally

PS. What’s that, you say? You wish you could buy me a coffee in return for all this invaluable information? Funnily enough, there’s a way to do that now on my brand-new Ko-fi page – link here

Photo: Kranich17/Pixabay; Geralt/Pixabay; Hermann/Pixabay


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