The Novel Writer's Blog

Novel Writing Competitions 2020

08 Jan 2020

Novel writing competitions 2019


Last updated: 14th January 2020

We have gathered a list of the best Novel Writing Competitions in 2020  for unpublished / unagented authors.

Each of these is handpicked, with all the data checked on a regular basis (see date above for last time it was reviewed). 

Many of these novel writing competitions are very prestigious, and highly likely to lead to agent representation and / or publication. We have not included any competitions that do not present a satisfactory level of credibility and authority.

For each competition we have collated the following information into an easy to access format:

  • Name of competiton, with a link to the website
  • Deadline
  • Entry fee
  • Details of 1st Prize 
  • Eligibility - the writer (any limitations placed on who can enter)
  • Eligibility - the submission (details about what sort of work is appropriate for this competition)
  • Genre - which genres are accepted

Please note that as these are annual competitions, those with later deadlines may not have opened for submissions yet.

Entry fees vary from £10 to £20, and 1st prizes average about £1000. There are some exceptional ones, with cash prizes of £20,000. Several offer publication deals and agent representation as their first prize and even for runners up.

Most are open to entrants worldwide, but some have slightly more limited eligibility criteria, such as being only open to UK residents, people of colour, or women.

If you have a novel writing competition that you would like added to this list, please get in touch. Or, if you notice any errors in the data, please do let us know so we can correct them.

We aim to update this post regularly, to add new competitions as we discover them. If a listing is in italics, it indicates that the deadline has passed, so please scroll down past those.

Please leave your comments below and share and bookmark this page if you find it useful!

Name Deadline Entry Fee First Prize Eligibility (writer) Eligibility (submission) Genre
Exeter Novel Prize 1st Jan 2020 £18 £500 plus trophy Authors currently without representation, whether or not they have been published.   The competition is for the first ten thousand words (including synopsis) of a novel. All genres excluding children’s, but including Young Adult and New Adult, are acceptable.
Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 17th January 2020 £12 A networking dinner plus editorial consultation Women over 21 resident in the UK, who have not had a full length novel previously published. Unpublished, and must not have been accepted for future publication or self-published. All genres except picture books
Northern Writers Awards 6th Feb 2020 FREE Various Writer must be based in Northern England at the time of submission. Various Various
Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award 28th February 2020 £36 Shortlisted entries are presented to publishers and agents Unpublished and unagented writers The opening of a proposed crime novel (up to 3,000 words) and a synopsis (up to 1,500 words) outlining its further development. Crime
Kelpies Prize 29th Feb 2020 N/A Win £1,000 plus mentoring and publication, and a week-long writing retreat. You must live or work in Scotland The book must be set mainly in Scotland Children's

The Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize

1st March 2020 TBC £15,000 advance and publication Unpublished and unagented writers (self pub okay) Adventure writing only Adventure

Page Turner Awards

30Th March (early bird deadline 15th Feb) £30 (£20) Various Over 18 Unpublished, complete fiction or non-fiction Any

Katherine Paterson Prize


No information $20 $1,000 No limitations Original, unpublished piece under 10,000 words. May be a short story or a book/novel excerpt. Young Adult and Children’s Literature
Claymore Award 1st April 2020 $40 Possible publication and agent representation. Networking opportunities (in the US) No limitations Unpublished novels containing elements of thriller, mystery, crime, or suspense. Self-published manuscripts are not eligible. Action, Adventure, Alternate History, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Suspense, Thriller, Western.
Adventure Writer's Competition 30th April 2020 $25 $1000 No limitations Novels in the genre 'Adventure' only Adventure
Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 4th May 2020 £18 Royalty advance of £10,000, publishing contract and agent representation Unpublished and unagented writers over 18 A full-length novel for children/young adults aged between 7 and 18 years. Children's
William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition May 15th TBC $45 $7,500 No limitations An original novel, previously unpublished Adults or Young Adults
First Novel Prize 2019 31st May TBC £25 £1,000 Unpublished writers English, unpublished or self-published Adult fiction genres only (no children or young adult)
The Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award for a First Novel 31st May 2019 TBC £20 £1000 plus mentoring Writers in Britain and the Republic of Ireland Full or part-written novel Any adult fiction genre including fiction for young adults (YA) providing there is a genuine crossover for adult readership. Non-fiction and fiction for children is not eligible.
Commonword Diversity Young Adult Fiction Prize  29th June TBC £10 £1000, professional mentoring, Arvon Course All entrants must be unpublished authors over the age of 16 and a permanent resident in the United Kingdom. Writing or writers must embrace ethnic diversity either through their own ethnicity and culture and/or in their writing. Middle Grade or Young Adult Fiction
Impress Prize for New Writers  30th June TBC £25 £500 advance plus publication by Impress Books 16 years of age and over A book proposal and a sample chapter of no more than 6,000 words Fiction and non-fiction across most genres (excluding poetry and children’s fiction, however we will consider Young Adult submissions)
Bath Novel Award 2nd June 2019 TBC £25 £2,500 Writers should be yet to accept a traditional publishing deal.  Novels may be unpublished, self-published or independently published. At least least 50,000 words in length. Any genre for adults or young adult (13+)
HASTINGS Litfest Crooked Cat Books Crime Novel Competition 30th June 2019 TBC £10 £150 plus publication by Crooked Cat Books Previously unpublished authors, or by authors previously published only in other genres None stated Crime
2019 Book Pipeline Competition 20th June 2019 TBC $50 $10,000 and circulation to leading production companies Unpublished Aimed at material for film and television adaptation Any genre, fiction or non-fiction
The Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award 30th June 2019 TBC £20 £1,000 and agent introduction Unpublished authors without an agent First chapter of your novel up to 5000 words along with a 300 word synopsis and cover letter Any adult fiction genre
North Street Book Prize 31st June 2019 TBC $60 $3,000 plus perks Self- published authors 200,000 words maximum. For self-published books
Curtis Brown First Novel Prize 1st August TBC TBC £3,000 and agent representation Over 18, resident in the UK or Ireland. Up to 10,000 words of a novel and a synopsis. Novel does not need to be finished. Any adult genre
Kindle Storyteller 2019 31st August TBC N/A £20,000 Over 18s You must publish your book through Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon Any genre
Greenhouse Funny Prize September (TBC - currently closed) TBC A selection of children’s books an hour-long face-to-face meeting with an agent and a publisher Unpublished and unagented authors living in the UK, Commonwealth (excluding Canada) or Europe. All entries must be in English. We are not open to work that has been published previously online. Picture books, middle grade, teen and YA stories with outstanding plots and great hooks.  Get us smiling with delight and/or splitting our sides with laughter.  Send us your funniest fiction in all genres!
David Higham Open Day for Under Represented Writers 16th September TBC Free Attendance at an Open Day meeting industry experts and receiving tailored feedback. Any un-agented writer living in the UK from an under-represented background (see website for details). None Any
Pitchwars 27th September (opens for two days only) Free Mentoring for your novel submission Unagented anywhere in the world Unpublished, including self-publishing Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, or Adult
Grindstone Literary International Novel Prize 28th September TBC £22 £1,000 No limitations Previously unpublished completed manuscripts exceeding 50,000 words in total length. All genres, but not middle grade or younger.
Mslexia Novel Award 30th September TBC £25 £5,000 Unpublished women writers of any nationality from any country. All entries must be in English, not previously published and not under consideration in other fiction competitions. Any adult genre
Flash 500 Novel Opening Chapter & Synopsis Competition 31st October (TBC £10 £500 No limitations The only stipulation is that the entry must be unpublished. Any genre
The Caledonia Novel Award 1st November (TBC) £25 £1,500 Open to unpublished and self-published novelists over 18 Original work at least 50,000 words Any genre for adults or young adults
Book Pipeline

15th November


$60 $5,000 Over 18, worldwide Specifically seeking new material for film and television adaptation Any genre
Cinnamon Press Annual Debut Fiction Prize 30th November (TBC) £12 1 Year's free mentoring worth £1,000 Open to those who have not had a novel or full-length short story collection previously published through a press. (Those who have self-published novels or collections may enter.)   Adult and crossover novels only (no children's fiction)
Betty Trask Prize 30th November (TBC) Free (as far as we can tell) £10,000 Under 35. British National or resident (see comp page for more details) First novels (published in the last year, or unpublished (see comp for more details) Traditional or romantic but not experimental style
Bath Children's Novel 17th November (TBC) £25 £2,500 Unpublished and independently published novelists Novel written for children aged 7 to 17. Children's



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