Novel Writing Competitions 2023

We have gathered a list of the best Novel Writing Competitions in 2023 for unpublished / unagented authors.

Each of these is handpicked, with the data checked on a regular basis.

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 competition, 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

They are listed in date order, so you can scroll down to find the ones with deadlines coming up soon.

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

Entry fees vary from free to £10 to £20, and 1st prizes average about £1000. There are some exceptional ones, with cash prizes of £20,000. Several offer mentoring, 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.

Please share and bookmark this page if you find it useful!

Exeter Novel Prize

Deadline 1st Jan
Entry Fee £18
First Prize £500 plus Trophy
Eligibility (writer) Authors currently without representation, whether or not they have been published.
Eligibility (submission) The competition is for the first ten thousand words (including synopsis) of a novel.
Genre All genres excluding children’s, but including Young Adult and New Adult, are acceptable.

Author Mentor Match

Deadline 14th Jan
Entry Fee FREE
First Prize Mentorship
Eligibility (writer) Unpublished writers of young adult, middle grade, and select adult novels, about to start querying (or have only queried lightly) who are looking to find an agent and/or traditional publisher for their manuscript.
Eligibility (submission) A completed manuscript for Middle Grade, Young Adult or Adult
Genre All genres

WriteMentor Children's Novel Award

Deadline 31st Jan
Entry Fee £12
First Prize Mentorship
Eligibility (writer) Unpublished writers of children's novels
Eligibility (submission) A completed children's manuscript
Genre All genres (children's)

Next Generation Indie Book Awards

Deadline 11th February
Entry Fee $75
First Prize $1500 and trophy
Eligibility (writer) Indie authors
Eligibility (submission) Book independently published within the last few years (see website for details)
Genre All genres

Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize

Deadline 9th February
Entry Fee £12
First Prize £1500, networking dinner and editorial consultation
Eligibility (writer) Women over 18 resident in the UK, who have not had a full length novel previously published.
Eligibility (submission) Unpublished, and must not have been accepted for future publication or self-published.
Genre All genres except picture books

Northern Writers Awards

Deadline 17th Feb
Entry Fee FREE
First Prize Various
Eligibility (writer) Writer must be based in Northern England at the time of submission.
Eligibility (submission) Various
Genre Various

Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award

Deadline Last working day in February
Entry Fee £36
First Prize Shortlisted entries are presented to publishers and agents
Eligibility (writer) Unpublished and unagented writers
Eligibility (submission) The opening of a proposed crime novel (up to 3,000 words) and a synopsis (up to 1,500 words) outlining its further development.
Genre Crime

Chapter One Prize for Novelists

Deadline 1st March
Entry Fee $20
First Prize $1,000
Eligibility (writer) Over 18
Eligibility (submission) First chapter of an Adult or Young Adult novel (full novel does not need to be completed).
Genre Adult and Young Adult

The Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize

Deadline Awaiting Updates
Entry Fee £39
First Prize £15,000 advance and publishing deal
Eligibility (writer) Unpublished and unagented writers (self pub okay)
Eligibility (submission) Adventure writing only
Genre Adventure

Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense

Deadline 15th March
Entry Fee $15/$30
First Prize Exposure to agents and editors
Eligibility (writer) Unagented, unpublished
Eligibility (submission) Unpublished, and must not have been accepted for future publication or self-published.
Genre Romantic suspense and mystery / thriller / suspense

Cheshire Novel Prize

Deadline 1st April
Entry Fee £25 - 10% of which goes to charity
First Prize £1500 plus lunch with 6 judges in London on 1st August 2022 (or remotely if can’t attend)
Eligibility (writer) Any unagented unpulished or unagented self published writers
Eligibility (submission) Initially first 5000 words, plus 1 page synopsis. Shortlisted authors will be required to submit full manuscript.
Genre Any except Children’s or picture books (YA allowed)

Claymore Award

Deadline 1st April
Entry Fee $40
First Prize Possible publication and agent representation. Networking opportunities (in the US)
Eligibility (writer) No limitations
Eligibility (submission) Unpublished novels containing elements of thriller, mystery, crime, or suspense. Self-published manuscripts are not eligible.
Genre Action, Adventure, Alternate History, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Suspense, Thriller, Western.

First Pages Prize

Deadline 10th April (extended deadline 21st April)
Entry Fee $20/$35
First Prize $2,000, agent consultation and developmental editing
Eligibility (writer) Any writer worldwide over 18 years of age who is currently un-agented
Eligibility (submission) First 5 pages (1,250 words max) of a longer fiction or creative non-fiction manuscript
Genre All genres

Adventure Writer's Competition

Deadline 30th April
Entry Fee $35
First Prize $1000
Eligibility (writer) No limitations
Eligibility (submission) Novels in the genre 'Adventure' only
Genre Adventure

Blue Pencil First Novel Award 2023

Deadline 31st May
Entry Fee £24 (free entries for low income writers available)
First Prize £1,000 + Agent Introduction
Eligibility (writer) Unrepresented and unpublished authors
Eligibility (submission) Opening chapter or chapters up to 5000 words plus a 300 word synopsis and a covering letter.
Genre Any Adult Genre

WriteMentor Novel-In-Development Award

Deadline 16th May
Entry Fee £10
First Prize 1 year of Spark Mentoring (at Level 3, 5000 words a month)
Eligibility (writer) Any unagented or unpublished writer
Eligibility (submission) First 1,500 words of your novel and a 1-page synopsis
Genre Children's

Page Turner Awards

Deadline 30th May
Entry Fee £30 (£20)
First Prize Various
Eligibility (writer) Over 18
Eligibility (submission) Unpublished, complete fiction or non-fiction
Genre Any

First Novel Prize

Deadline 31st May
Entry Fee £25
First Prize £1,000
Eligibility (writer) Unpublished writers
Eligibility (submission) English, unpublished or self-published
Genre Adult fiction genres only (no children or young adult)

Bridport Prize Novel Award

Deadline 31st May
Entry Fee £20
First Prize £1500 plus mentoring
Eligibility (writer) Writers aged 16 and over living in Britain (including the Channel Islands and Isle Of Man) and Ireland (Northern Ireland and Republic Of Ireland) and British writers living overseas.
Eligibility (submission) Full or part-written novel
Genre 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.

Bath Novel Award

Deadline 31st May
Entry Fee £28
First Prize £3,000
Eligibility (writer) Writers should be yet to accept a traditional publishing deal. 
Eligibility (submission) Novels may be unpublished, self-published or independently published. At least least 50,000 words in length.
Genre Any genre for adults or young adult (13+)

Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition

Deadline 1st June
Entry Fee £18
First Prize Royalty advance of £10,000, publishing contract and agent representation
Eligibility (writer) Unpublished and unagented writers over 18
Eligibility (submission) A full-length novel for children/young adults aged between 7 and 18 years.
Genre Children's

Guppy Books Middle Grade Open Submission

Deadline 7th - 11th June
Entry Fee None
First Prize Editorial Meeting and Publication Offer
Eligibility (writer) Unagented and unpublished authors
Eligibility (submission) First three chapter and a synopsis
Genre Middle grade

North Street Book Prize

Deadline 30th June
Entry Fee $65
First Prize $5,000 plus perks
Eligibility (writer) Self- published authors
Eligibility (submission) 200,000 words maximum.
Genre For self-published books

Gutsy Great Novelist Page One Prize

Deadline July 14th
Entry Fee $20
First Prize $1,000
Eligibility (writer) Open internationally to all writers over 18 who are working on an as-yet-unpublished novel in the English language.
Eligibility (submission)

FIRST PAGE of an unpublished novel written in the English language. Novel can be in any stage of completion.

Genre Any genre of novel for adults or young adult readers.

Morley Prize for Unpublished Writers of Colour

Deadline 29th July
Entry Fee FREE
First Prize £500 cash and a consultation with an agent from Rachel Mills Literary Agency
Eligibility (writer) The writer must be over 18, a resident of the UK or Republic of Ireland and a person of colour - Asian, Asian/British/Arab/Black, African, Caribbean or Black British/mixed or multiple ethnic groups or other marginalised ethnic groups. The applicant must not previously have had a novel or novella published. They must not be signed with an agent.
Eligibility (submission) For a work of fiction, 30 pages of an original novel plus an outline of no more than three pages. For non-fiction, a summary of not more than 30-pages, plus a 3,000 word writing sample.
Genre There are two prizes, one for fiction and one for non-fiction

Staunch Book Prize

Deadline 31st July
Entry Fee FREE or £65 with feedback report
First Prize International publicity
Eligibility (writer) No limitations
Eligibility (submission) Completed novel - can be traditionally published, self-published or unpublished.
Genre A a thriller in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered

Fiction Factory First Chapter Competition

Deadline July 31st (early bird 15th June)
Entry Fee £18 (£15)
First Prize £500 and reading by top London agent
Eligibility (writer)

Previously unpublished authors. International entries welcome.

Eligibility (submission) The competition is for the first 5,000 words of a completed novel (The wordcount does not include the 1 page synopsis). If the first chapter is longer, the 5000-word point must be clearly marked.
Genre All except Children’s and YA

Kindle Storyteller

Deadline Open for entries between 1st May and 31st August
Entry Fee Free
First Prize £20,000
Eligibility (writer) Over 18s
Eligibility (submission) You must publish your book through Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon
Genre Any genre

Book Pipeline Adaptation Contest

Deadline August 31st (early deadline May 20th)
Entry Fee $45
First Prize $10,000 + Film/TV Industry adaptation consideration /circulation
Eligibility (writer) Self-published authors (and trad published authors)
Eligibility (submission) Published (including self-pub) books, graphic novels, short stories (trad published / produced plays also accepted)
Genre Any genre

Impress Prize for New Writers

Deadline 13th September
Entry Fee £25
First Prize £500 advance plus publication by Impress Books
Eligibility (writer) 16 years of age and over
Eligibility (submission) A book proposal and a sample chapter of no more than 6,000 words
Genre Fiction and non-fiction across most genres (excluding poetry and children’s fiction, however we will consider Young Adult submissions)

Mslexia Novel Competition

(Childrens' and Adults' on alternate years)

Deadline 20th September
Entry Fee £25
First Prize £5,000
Eligibility (writer) Unpublished women writers of any nationality from any country.
Eligibility (submission) All entries must be in English, not previously published and not under consideration in other fiction competitions.
Genre Either Adult or Children on alternate years (Adult in 2021, Children in 2022)

Grindstone Literary International Novel Prize

Deadline 28th September
Entry Fee £20
First Prize £1,000 + Full MS Request
Eligibility (writer) No limitations
Eligibility (submission) Previously unpublished completed manuscripts exceeding 70,000 words in total length.
Genre All adult genres, but not middle grade or younger. YA allowed.


Deadline 30th September (opens 26th September)
Entry Fee FREE
First Prize Mentoring (multiple winners)
Eligibility (writer) No limitations
Eligibility (submission) Query + 1 page single-spaced synopsis + 1st chapter
Genre Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, or Adult

The First Page Challenge (The Darling Axe)

Deadline Opens May 2021
Entry Fee $5 CAD
First Prize $200
Eligibility (writer) No limitations
Eligibility (submission) First page of a novel
Genre Any genre

Book Pipeline Unpublished Competition

Deadline 5th October (Early deadline June 1st)
Entry Fee $45 - $60
First Prize $2,500 for each of six winners and industry circulation
Eligibility (writer) Any writer worldwide over 18 years of age
Eligibility (submission) Unpublished, full-length manuscripts of fiction and nonfiction
Genre Young Adult, Sci-Fi / Fantasy, Mystery / Thriller, Literary, Outsider / Experimental, and Nonfiction

Flash 500 Novel Opening Chapter & Synopsis Competition

Deadline 31st October
Entry Fee £10
First Prize £500
Eligibility (writer) No limitations
Eligibility (submission) The only stipulation is that the entry must be unpublished.
Genre Any genre

The Caledonia Novel Award

Deadline 1st November
Entry Fee £25
First Prize £1,500
Eligibility (writer) Open to unpublished and self-published novelists over 18
Eligibility (submission) Original work at least 50,000 words
Genre Any genre for adults or young adults

Bath Children's Novel

Deadline November 30th (opens 1st June)
Entry Fee £25
First Prize £2,500
Eligibility (writer) Unpublished and independently published novelists
Eligibility (submission) Novel written for children aged 7 to 17.
Genre Children's

Searchlight Writing for Children Awards

Deadline November 22nd (opens 20th August)
Entry Fee £11
First Prize £500 and Agent 121
Eligibility (writer) Over 16
Eligibility (submission) Opening of a novel written for children aged 8 to 18.
Genre Children's and Young Adult

Cinnamon Press Annual Literature Award

Deadline 30th November
Entry Fee £18
First Prize Book published by Cinnamon Press
Eligibility (writer) 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.)
Eligibility (submission)  Unpublished
Genre Adult and crossover novels only (no children's fiction)

Betty Trask Prize

Deadline 30th November
Entry Fee Free (as far as we can tell)
First Prize £10,000
Eligibility (writer) Under 35. British National or resident (see comp page for more details)
Eligibility (submission) First novels (published in the last year, or unpublished - see comp for more details)
Genre Traditional or romantic but not experimental style

David Higham Open Day for Under Represented Writers

Deadline TBC
Entry Fee Free
First Prize Attendance at an Open Day meeting industry experts and receiving tailored feedback.
Eligibility (writer) Any un-agented writer living in the UK from an under-represented background (see website for details).
Eligibility (submission) None
Genre Any

Daisy Pettles Writing Contest for Women

Deadline December 12th
Entry Fee $0-25-45 (sliding income waivers)
First Prize $1,000 plus a month-long free residency in the Daisy Pettles' Writer's House
Eligibility (writer) Women writers, aged 40+, published OR unpublished
Eligibility (submission) 20 pages of sample writing
Genre Fiction or non-fiction. Not poetry.