Novel Writing Competitions List for 2021

Novel Writing Competitions List updated 2 May 2021. These competitions are for unpublished or self-published novels and novellas for international writers, plus a few for UK or US residents only. It’s a long list and accurate as far as possible, updated monthly, so bookmark this page! I can’t vouch for all these comps personally, but if you have experience of them, let us know in the comments. Good luck!

Please be sure to check the websites for more information, submission requirements and deadlines.

Adventures in YA Publishing

Regular Contests and Workshops open to young adult, middle grade, and new adult writers. 1st Five Pages workshops run every month, and the contests are annual. Receive constructive feedback. Submissions are sent during specific time windows to be read by agents. Many contestants are asked to submit full manuscripts.

Entry Fee: Free

Deadline: ongoing – see website

Submit: varies per contest but you’ll need a strong pitch. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Adventure Writer’s Competition

Sponsored by the Clive Cussler Collector’s Society. Annual competition to recognise and celebrate adventure writing. Open to unpublished novels and published novels that have sold no more than 10,000 copies. Must be an action-adventure novel. Win $1,000 plus marketing help with your novel, and more.

Entry Fee: $35

Deadline: 30 April 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: complete manuscript. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Amazon Literary Contests

Amazon KDP runs regular contests for authors self-publishing on their KDP platform in various territories, such as Kindle Storyteller and Pen to Publish. Each contest has specific rules for entry and usually involves publishing within a particular period covered by the contest. Prizes vary and can include cash advances, publishing contracts with Amazon, and mentoring from top authors.

Entry Fee: Free

Deadline: varies by contest – see website

Submit: published book. Check website for full submission details and rules.

A Woman’s Write

International prize for an unpublished novel written in English. Open to women only. All submissions receive a critique. Prize $500 and certificate! Runs every year and opens on 1st January.

Entry Fee: $40

Deadline: 30 November 2021

Submit: first 50 pages, a detailed synopsis and bio. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Bath Novella-in-Flash Award

Annual prize for novellas of between 6,000 and 18,000 words, where each flash (or chapter) is no more than 1,000 words. Win £300 plus publication in print and digital anthology. Two runners up receive £100 each. Any subject or theme, but must be in English and written for adults or young adults.

Entry Fee: £16

Deadline: 17 January 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: full manuscript via email. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Bath Novel Award

International prize for aspiring and self-published novelists. Win £3,000, plus literary agent introductions. Long-listed entrants will be asked to submit their complete manuscript (min. 50,000 words). One long-listed entrant also gets access to an online editing course worth £1,800 from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.

Entry Fee: £28

Deadline: 31 May 2021

Submit: first 5,000 words and 1 page synopsis. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Bath Children’s Novel Award

International prize for aspiring and self-published writers of children’s fiction. This competition runs in rotation every other year with the Bath Novel Award for adult fiction. For all genres of chapter, middle grade and young adult novels.

Entry Fee: £25

Deadline: 29 November 2020 *CLOSED*

Submit: first 5,000 words and 1 page synopsis. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Big Moose Prize

Run by independent publisher Black Lawrence Press for an unpublished novel. Open to new, emerging and established writers with an innovative and intoxicating manuscript. Win $10,000 and publication. Opens for entries in November each year.

Entry Fee: $25

Deadline: 31 January 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: full manuscript. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Book Pipeline Contests

Two competitions, one for unpublished and one for established writers. Win $2,500 in the Unpublished Contest, plus circulation of your manuscript to publishers and agents. Win $10,000 in the Adaptation Contest for published novels, plus film/TV industry circulation and development. Entry fee depends on deadline.

Entry Fee: $45 – $60 (unpublished); $55 – $70 (adaptation)

Deadlines: Unpublished – Early 1 June 2021; Regular 15 August 2021; Late 5 September 2021; Extended 10 September 2021

Adaptation – Early 20 May 2021; Regular 15 August 2021; Late 31 August 2021

Submit: first 5,000 words plus synopsis for both contests. Check website for full submission details and rules.

BPA First Novel Award

Blue Pencil Agency competition for unrepresented and unpublished authors of any genre, including YA if there’s an adult crossover. They’re looking for a strong voice and an original, unforgettable story. Win £1,000 and introduction to literary agent. Shortlisted entrants will be asked to submit 20,000 words.

Entry Fee: £20

Deadline: 31 May 2021

Submit: first chapter (up to 5,000 words) plus 300 word synopsis and covering letter. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Bridport Prize Novel Award

Win £1,500 plus mentoring and other prizes. Open to UK residents only. For a complete or nearly complete (min. 15,000 words) novel in any adult or young adult fiction genre. Shortlisted entrants will have to submit at least 30,000 words for final judging.

Entry Fee: £20

Deadline: 31 May 2021

Submit: the first 5,000 to 8,000 words, plus a 300 word synopsis. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Caledonia Novel Award

International competition for unpublished and self-published novels in any genre for adults or YA. Win £1,500, plus a free place on a week-long residential writing course in Scotland (for the best novel from the UK & Ireland). Long-listed entrants will be asked to submit their complete manuscript (min 50,000 words).

Entry Fee: £25

Deadline: 1 November 2021

Submit: the first 20 pages plus 200 word synopsis. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Chanticleer Book Awards

International book awards to discover outstanding works by published and self-published authors. Win cash prizes, promotional materials and reviews for fiction and non-fiction. There are multiple awards for different genres and deadlines vary by contest. Fees are high but so are the cash prizes, and both vary by contest.

Entry Fee: $99 – $199 for non-members

Deadlines: check site for latest

Submit: full manuscript in pdf or Word doc. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition

Annual competition open to unpublished and unagented writers of fiction for 7-18 year olds. Win publication with Chicken House plus advance of £10,000. All long-listed entrants receive a reader’s report. Entries should be a minimum of 30,000 words and no more than 80,000 words.

Entry Fee: £18

Deadline: 14 May 2021

Submit: full manuscript, 1 page synopsis, and cover letter. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Cinnamon Literature Award

Annual competition open to all writers, both debut and established. Submit either poetry, short stories, or a novel. The winner will have their book published by Cinnamon Press. Opens for entries TBC.

Entry Fee: £16

Deadline: TBC

Submit: first 10,000 of your novel. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Cinnamon Pencil Mentoring Competition

The Cinnamon Press mentoring programme offers a full year of feedback on fiction or poetry. Win a free place on the Cinnamon Pencil mentoring scheme. Two runners up will receive 50% bursaries. Open to all writers, including novels, poetry and short stories. Your submission should be a work in progress and not previously published. Opens for entries in autumn 2021.

Entry Fee: £10

Deadline: TBC

Submit: first 10,000 words of novel or 3 short stories. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Claymore Award

Open to unpublished manuscripts in thriller, mystery, crime, Sci-Fi, fantasy, and more. Win possible publication and agent representation. This is an international competition but many of the prizes require your presence in the USA.

Entry Fee: $40

Deadline: 1 April 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: first 50 pages and online submission form. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award

International annual competition for unpublished crime writers. Self-published writers can enter if they’ve never been traditionally published. Win £500. All shortlisted entrants receive a professional assessment of their work. Re-opens on 1 October 2021.

Entry Fee: £36

Deadline: 26 February 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: first 3,000 words, a 1,500 word synopsis, plus entry form. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award

An award of £10,000 for a first-time prose writer whose work shows literary talent and who would benefit from financial support in order to complete their work. Open to residents of the British Commonwealth and Eire only who haven’t published or self-published a full-length book of prose. The entry can be fiction or non-fiction. Three runners-up will receive £1,000.

Entry Fee: Free

Deadline: 1 July 2021

Submit: 15-20,000 words, plus brief synopsis and bio. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Exeter Novel Prize

International annual competition open to writers who don’t have an agent and are not currently under contract with a publisher. Win £500. Five runners up receive £100. All genres except children’s, but they will accept YA.

Entry Fee: £18

Deadline: 1 January 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: first 10,000 words, including 500 word synopsis. Check website for full submission details and rules.

First Novel Prize

Daniel Goldsmith Associates literary prize for unpublished and self-published novelists. Win £1,000 for a novel of at least 50,000 words in any adult genre.

Entry Fee: £25

Deadline: 31 May 2021

Submit: full manuscript plus synopsis. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Flash 500 Novel Opening Chapter Competition

Annual competition for unpublished novels to be judged by senior editors at Accent Press. Win £500. Runner up £200.

Entry Fee: £10

Deadline: 31 October 2021

Submit: opening chapter of no more than 3,000 words, plus 1 page synopsis. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Green Stories Novel Competition

Open to any full-length novel written in English that uses ideas of building a sustainable society or environmental sustainability. Your story should offer a positive vision of the future rather than a dystopian one. Win manuscript appraisal by literary consultancy Daniel Goldsmith Associates, plus mentoring from an agent. More details on submissions TBC. Opening TBC.

Entry Fee: Free

Deadline: December 2021 TBC

Submit: first 5,000 to 10,000 words and one page synopsis. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Immigrant Writing Prize

Prize run by Restless Books for an outstanding literary debut by a first-generation immigrant. Awarded for fiction and non-fiction in alternate years – this year the prize is for fiction. Win $10,000 and publication by Restless Books. Your entry should address issues of identity, culture and immigration, and you must be a first-generation resident of your country.

Entry Fee: Free

Deadline: 31 March 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: manuscript plus cover letter and CV. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Impress Prize for New Writers

International annual prize for debuts from unpublished novelists and non-fiction writers. Your entry should be developed enough that it could be published within a year. Win possible publication by Untold Publishing plus £500 advance.

Entry Fee: £25

Deadline: 13 September 2021

Submit: sample chapter (no more than 6,000 words) plus book proposal. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Jhalak Prize

Annual prize for a published or self-published book by a BAME writer. Open to UK residents only. All genres including fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, children’s and YA. The aim is to find the best writers of colour in the country. Win £1,000.

Entry Fee: Free

Deadline: 15 December 2020 *CLOSED*

Submit: two copies of the book by post or ebook via email. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize

Open to women novelists over the age of 21 for unpublished novels, including children’s and YA, but not picture books. UK residents only. Win the opportunity to attend a networking dinner plus editorial consultation. All shortlisted entrants also receive the editorial consultation.

Entry Fee: £12

Deadline: 12 February 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: first 50 pages, plus a 3-5 page synopsis. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Mslexia Adult Novel Competition 

Open to women only. For unpublished novels by women for adults, at least 20,000 words. Win £5,000, all finalists get feedback on their manuscript plus invite to networking event in London. Opening TBC.

Entry Fee: £25

Deadline: 21 September 2020 *CLOSED*

Submit: first 5,000 words. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Mslexia Memoir & Life-Writing Competition

Open to women only. For an unpublished completed memoir narrating events in your life and/or a quest or investigation you undertake. Your memoir must be at least 50,000 words in length. Win £5,000, plus feedback and introductions to agents and editors at a networking event in London.

Entry Fee: £25

Deadline: 21 September 2020 *CLOSED*

Submit: first 5,000 words. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Myriad First Drafts Competition

Looking for exceptional new voices. Open to unpublished writers for a novel or short story collection. Women writers of African heritage or descent only. Win a week-long writing retreat in West Dean College near Chichester (UK), plus editorial feedback from the judges. Next opening TBC.

Entry Fee: £10

Deadline: TBC

Submit: 5,000 words of a work in progress plus synopsis. Check website for full submission details and rules.

MWA First Novel Competition

St Martin’s Minotaur is open to any crime writer who has never been published in any genre. Your novel must include murder or serious crime as the heart of the story and be at least 40,000 words in length. Win $10,000 advance and possible publication by Minotaur Books.

Entry Fee: Free

Deadline: 1 January 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: full manuscript and entry form. Check website for full submission details and rules.

New Voices Competition

Open to novelists in all genres. Win a mentoring package worth £550, including manuscript appraisal and guidance from Adventures in Fiction. Designed for first time writers in the early stages of a novel.

Entry Fee: £10

Deadline: 14 September 2021

Submit: one page synopsis and first page of the novel. Check website for full submission details and rules.

North Street Book Prize

For self-published books in various categories: Mainstream/Literary fiction, Genre fiction, Creative Non-fiction and Memoir, Poetry, and Children’s Picture Book. Win up to $5,000 plus marketing services and advice. Open to ebooks and print books.

Entry Fee: $65

Deadline: 30 June 2021

Submit: details on opening. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Orison Prizes in Poetry and Fiction

Annual competition run by Orison Books for a spiritually engaged book-length manuscript of short stores, novella, or novel. One prize for poetry and another for fiction – both win $1,500 plus publication. Fiction manuscripts must be a minimum of 30,000 words and written in English. Opens for entries in December 2021.

Entry Fee: $25

Deadline: 1 April 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: full manuscript. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest

Run by FC2, a not-for-profit publisher of adventurous, non-traditional fiction. Submissions must be in English and can be of any length: a collection of short stories, novella or novel, as long as it hasn’t been previously published. Win $1,500 and publication by FC2.

Entry Fee: $25

Deadline: 1 November 2020 *CLOSED*

Submit: full manuscript plus cover letter and bio. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Rubery Book Award

International book award for independent and self-published books of poetry, fiction, or creative non-fiction. All genres including children’s and young adult. Win £1,500, plus three category winners of £150 each. The winning book will be read by a leading literary agency.

Entry Fee: £37 or $60 USD

Deadline: 31 March 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: one copy of the book, plus book blurb and entry form. See website for full submission details and rules.

SI Leeds Literary Prize

Biennial competition for Black and Asian women writers. UK Residents only. Win £3,000 for a finished novel or collection of short stories. The winner also receives a free place on an Arvon creative writing course. Loads of other prizes for runners-up, and the winner’s book will be considered for publication by Peepal Tree Press.

Entry Fee: £10

Deadline: 30 April 2020 *CLOSED*

Submit: full manuscript, plus 500 word synopsis. Check website for full submission details, rules and eligibility.

Society of Authors Awards and Prizes

Various competitions run by the Society of Authors. The Betty Trask Prize is for traditional or romantic novels by authors under the age of 35 and open to Commonwealth citizens only. Prize money of £20k to be used for foreign travel. CLOSED.

The McKitterick Prize is for first novels by international writers over the age of 40, published or unpublished. Win £4,000 or £1,000 for runner up. Your novel must be complete before entry. CLOSED.

The Young Writer of the Year Award is for published or self-published fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers aged 18-35. Open to UK and Irish writers only. Win £5,000 for a work of outstanding literary merit. Open for entries.

Entry Fee: Free

Deadlines: Young Writer Award – 22 June 2021

Submit: copies of the book (varies by prize) or manuscript, for McKitterick unpublished novels send the first 30 pages. Check the website for full submission details and rules.

Spotlight First Novel Competition

Open to international unpublished novelists in all genres. Win a mentoring package from Adventures in Fiction worth up to £1,270, and a page featuring your work on their website.

Entry Fee: £16

Deadline: 14 February 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: one page synopsis and first page of the novel. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Virginia Prize for Fiction

International competition open to women novelists only. Win editorial guidance and possible publication by Aurora Metro Press. Your novel must be complete (at least 45,000 words) and never have been published or self-published. Runs every two years. Fee depends on deadline.

Entry Fee: £15 – £25

Deadline: Early Bird 1 June 2021; Standard 1 August 2021; Late 1 October 2021

Submit: completed novel. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize

Annual award for the best published and unpublished adventure novels. Winner of unpublished novel receives £15,000 advance for a publishing deal. Self-published e-books are eligible. Winner of published novel receives £10,000. Entries must be longer than 50,000 words.

Entry Fee: Free for published; £39 for unpublished

Deadline: 7 March 2021 *CLOSED*

Submit: full manuscript as a pdf. Check website for full submission details and rules.

Yeovil Literary Prize

International writing competition judged by professional writers aimed at aspiring novelists. Win first prize £1,000, second £250, third £100. Your novel must be unpublished and must not be under consideration in any other competition. Opens 1 January each year.

Entry Fee: £12

Deadline: 31 May 2021

Submit: synopsis and first 3 chapters (up to a total of 15,000). Check website for full submission details and rules.

More competitions here:


Before entering any competition make sure you check the entry requirements and rules. If I’ve missed any good novel competitions, please let me know in the comments below…

Note: This is a list of competitions I’ve compiled from information available online. I have no connection to any of the companies. Any problems or queries should be directed to the companies concerned.

3 comments

  1. Hi,
    Thank you so much for this list.
    Is there any reason the Chanticleer Book Awards are not included?
    I got onto the shortlist last year with one novel and am currently on the longlist with another. I must admit I dont know how well respected they are.
    Best wishes
    Marilyn

    Like

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