Novel competitions 2022/2023

[Updated 31/10/22] It’s been a while since my last novel list so I thought I’d do a quick update covering what’s left of the year.

My own WIP is slightly MIA – it’s been a tough year in terms of writing fortitude. But I’ve picked myself up, dusted off book two and am in the middle of a five-week novel course with Curtis Brown Creative. It’s called Inside Story with David Nicholls (one of my writing heroes) and I’ll report back on it once I’m done. What I can say is that we’re two weeks in and it’s already sparking all sorts of ideas. My main character is speaking to me again, where she had gone silent.

As always with my lists, please check out all the details for yourself before entering any competition – make sure you’re happy with the small print! Good luck and happy writing.

  • 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
Moniack Mhor writers’ retreat in Scotland
  • The Caledonia Novel Award 2023
  • Closing date: November 1
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,500 and a specially designed trophy. There is also a 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
  • Blue Pencil Agency Pitch Prize 2022
  • Closing date: November 6
  • Prizes: up to 10 writers will get to pitch their novel to an agent via zoom, get editorial feedback and recommendations, industry insights and advice on next steps
  • Judge: literary agent Hattie Grünewald, The Blair Partnership
  • Requirement: first 500 words of your opening chapter and a 300-word synopsis
  • Entry fee: £12 per entry, multiple entries permitted. A number of free places are available to low-income or underrepresented writers. Open internationally
  • Writers & Artists x whitefox: A Helping Hand Competition
  • Closing date: November 14 (9am)
  • Prizes: 1st place an editorial report from an editor at creative publishing agency whitefox and a follow-up consultation with a member of the editorial team, a place at a Writers & Artists writing masterclass and a writing guide bundle. Three shortlisted entries will receive a book bundle and a free place at a W&A writing or publishing event
  • Judges: the Writers & Artists team and whitefox editorial team
  • Requirement: first 1,000 words from your unpublished WIP (fiction or non-fiction), a synopsis and a short note (200 words) about yourself and your writing influences
  • Entry fee: free to enter. Open to writers in UK and Ireland
  • Penguin Michael Joseph Undiscovered Writers’ Prize 2022/23: Crime & Thriller
  • Closing date: November 30
  • Prizes: a publishing contract with Penguin Michael Joseph worth at least £10,000, and representation by the DHH Literary Agency. All shortlisted writers will also receive one-to-one editorial feedback and guidance from an editor or agent
  • Judges: full list on the website
  • Requirement: 2,000 words of a thriller/crime novel and a 200-word synopsis
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open to writers who are resident in the UK or Ireland, and who are from a background that’s currently underrepresented in publishing – that would include but is not limited to writers from a socio-economically marginalised background, Black, Asian and minority ethnic writers, LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) writers or disabled writers
  • 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 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
  • Orna Ross Green Stories Novel Prize 2022
  • Closing date: January 3, 2023 (opening for entries soon)
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £500. The top three entries will be offered a half-price manuscript appraisal (worth £300-400) by literary consultancy Daniel Goldsmith. Peter Cox from the literary agency Redhammer Management will provide a one-to-one mentoring session with the winners (at their office in London or virtual meeting). If you want to pursue the independent publishing route, winners can access a package of support from the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) set up by Orna Ross that includes a year’s membership of ALLI and a free pass to the Self-Publishing Advice Conference
  • Judges: doesn’t say
  • Requirement: three chapters (4,000-10,000 words) plus a synopsis of 500-1,000 words
  • Entry fee: free to enter. Open internationally. All submissions must conform to the green stories criteria of showcasing positive visions of a more sustainable society or incorporating green solutions into the context of an otherwise mainstream story
Head judge Kate Mosse
  • Women’s Prize Discoveries Award 2023
  • Closing date: January 15, 2023
  • Prizes: 1st place £5,000 and an offer of representation from Curtis Brown. The 16 longlisted authors will receive a bespoke two-week online Discoveries Writing Development Course taught by author Charlotte Mendelson and an annual Audible subscription; the six shortlisted authors will also have access to mentoring with a Curtis Brown agent, a free place on a six-week online writing course with Curtis Brown Creative and a studio session focused on writing and recording for audio with Audible. One promising writer – named the ‘Discoveries Scholar’ – will also win a free scholarship to attend a three-month Writing Your Novel course with Curtis Brown Creative
  • Judges: novelists Kate Mosse, Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Chibundu Onuzo; Curtis Brown literary agent Lucy Morris, and Anna Davis, founder and managing director of Curtis Brown Creative writing school
  • Requirement: the first 10,000 words and a synopsis of max 1,000 words
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open to women writers based in the UK or Ireland
  • Retreat West First Chapter Competition 2023
  • Closing date: January 29, 2023
  • Prizes: 1st place feedback and a submission package review (ie. cover letter, synopsis and first three chapters) from literary agent Rachel Mann. 2nd place feedback on first three chapters from Amanda Saint, publisher at Retreat West Books. Shortlisted writers will receive short feedback from Rachel on the first chapter she reads during the judging process. This will be provided in the blog announcing the results
  • Judge: Rachel Mann from Jo Unwin Literary Agency (JULA)
  • Requirement:  first chapter of up to 3,000 words
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry, multiple entries permitted. 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

Photos: Melk Hagelslag/Pixabay


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