Novel writing competitions 2021

Novel Writing Competitions 2021

Last updated 6th April.

We have gathered a list of the best Novel Writing Competitions in 2021 for unpublished / unagented authors.

Each of these is handpicked, with 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 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 £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.

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

Exeter Novel Prize

Deadline 1st Jan
Entry Fee £18
First Prize £500 plus Tropy
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.

Click here to visit the Exeter Novel Prize website

 

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

Click here to visit the Author Mentor Match website

 

Grindstone Crucible First Novel Prize

Deadline 1st February
Entry Fee FREE
First Prize Exposure to agents
Eligibility (writer) No limitations
Eligibility (submission) Previously unpublished completed manuscripts.
Genre Crime, mystery and thriller

Click here to visit Grindstone Literary International Novel Prize website

 

First Pages Prize

Deadline 7th Feb (extended deadline 21st Feb)
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

Click here to visit the First Pages Prize website 

 

Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize

Deadline 12th 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

Click here to visit the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize website

 

Northern Writers Awards

Deadline 18th 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

Click here to visit the Northern Writers Awards website

 

Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award

Deadline 26th February 2020
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

Click here to visit the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award website

 

Voyage YA First Chapters Contest

Deadline 28th February 2021
Entry Fee $20
First Prize $3000 and agent consultation
Eligibility (writer) All writers working in English
Eligibility (submission) First chapter of a Young Adult novel (full novel does not need to be completed), and from the point-of-view of a young adult, meaning through the lens of a teen protagonist
Genre Young Adult

Click here to visit the Voyage YA First Chapter Contest website

 

Chapter One Prize for Novelists

Deadline 1st March 2021
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

Click here to visit the Chapter One Prize website

 

The Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize

Deadline 7th March
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

Click here to visit the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize website

 

 

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

Click here to visit the Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense website

 

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.

Click here to visit the Claymore Award website

 

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

Click here to visit the Adventure Writer's Competition website

 

Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition

Deadline 14th May
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

 Click here to visit the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition website

 

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

 Click here to visit theWriteMentor Novel-In-Development Award website

 

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)

Click here to visit the First Novel Prize website

 

Bridport Prize Novel Award

Deadline 31st May
Entry Fee £20
First Prize £1500 plus mentoring
Eligibility (writer) riters 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.

Click here to visit the Bridport Prize Novel Award website

 

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

Click here to visit the Page Turner Awards website 

 

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+)

Click here to visit the Bath Novel Award website

 

The Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award

Deadline 31st May
Entry Fee £20
First Prize £1,000 and agent introduction
Eligibility (writer) Unpublished authors without an agent
Eligibility (submission) First chapter of your novel up to 5000 words along with a 300 word synopsis and cover letter
Genre Any adult fiction genre

Click here to visit The Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award website

 

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

Click here to visit The Guppy Books Middle Grade Open Submission website

 

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

Click here to visit North Street Book Prize website

 

Staunch Book Prize

Deadline "The award is taking a break for 2021"
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

Click here to visit Staunch Book Prize website

 

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

Click here to visit the Fiction Factory First Chapter Competition website

 

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

Click here to visit Kindle Storyteller website

 

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

Click here to visit Book Pipeline Adaptation Contest website

 

 

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)

Click here to visit the Impress Prize for New Writers website

 

 

The Query Letter

Deadline Awaiting announcement of 2021 comp.
Entry Fee Free
First Prize $500
Eligibility (writer) No restrictions
Eligibility (submission) 100 words blurb. The novel does NOT need to be written.
Genre Any genre

Click here to visit The Query Letter website

 

Mslexia Children's and YA Novel Competition

Deadline Awaiting announcement of 2021 comp.
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 Childrens and Young Adult

Click here to visit Mslexia Children's and YA Novel Competition website

 

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.

Click here to visit Grindstone Literary International Novel Prize website

 

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

Click here to visit The First Page Challenge (The Darling Axe) website

 

Pitchwars

Deadline Awaiting dates for 2021
Entry Fee Free
First Prize Mentoring for your novel submission
Eligibility (writer) Unagented anywhere in the world
Eligibility (submission) Unpublished, including self-publishing
Genre Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, or Adult

Click here to visit the Pitchwars website

 

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

Click here to visit the Book Pipeline Unpublished Competition website

 

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

Click here to visit the Flash 500 Novel Opening Chapter & Synopsis Competition website

 

Cinnamon Press Annual Debut Fiction Prize

Deadline Opens late Spring 2021
Entry Fee £16
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)

Click here to visit the Cinnamon Press Annual Debut Fiction Prize website

 

The Caledonia Novel Award

Deadline Awaiting announcement of 2021 dates.
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

Click here to visit The Caledonia Novel Award website

 

William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition

Deadline Awaiting announcement of 2021 dates.
Entry Fee $45
First Prize $7,500
Eligibility (writer) No limitations
Eligibility (submission) An original novel, previously unpublished
Genre Adults or Young Adults

Click here to visit The William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition website

 

QuoScript NaNoWriMo Challenge

Deadline Awaiting announcement of 2021 dates.
Entry Fee £30
First Prize Publication Contract (all entrants receive a critique)
Eligibility (writer) Writers in UK and USA 
Eligibility (submission) 10,000 words plus synopsis
Genre Crime Fiction and Young Adult Fiction

Click here to visit The QuoScript NaNoWriMo Challenge website

 

Bath Children's Novel

Deadline Awaiting announcement of 2021 dates.
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

Click here to visit The Bath Children's Novel website

 

Betty Trask Prize

Deadline Awaiting announcement of 2021 dates.
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

Click here to visit The Betty Trask Prize website

 

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

Click here to visit the David Higham Open Day for Under Represented Writers website

 

Daisy Pettles Writing Contest for Women

Deadline Awaiting announcement of 2021 dates.
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.

Click here to visit the Daisy Pettles Writing Contest for Women website

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