Competition Time

….Which, aficionados will know, is also the title of a Father Ted episode.

I’ve blogged on here about how I think it’s possible to get published in a year. Believe me, I’m not the kind of peppy optimist you’d want to slap round the head with your unpublished MS, so I really mean it. To help you out with this, because I’m nice that way, I’ve put together some lists of resources that I think will be useful. First up: writing competitions. These are incredibly important, as agents and editors will be scouting the results to find new talent. Winning isn’t really important here. Get short or long-listed and you could find editors and agents chasing you down.

There are many short-story comps out there, but if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool novelist like me you might find the short story baffling. It’s possible that (also like me) you’ll be rubbish at it. The forms are very different. So I’ve put together a list of the new-writing novel competitions I know of.

Ones that don’t include a publishing deal in the prize:

Contrary to what you might think, it’s probably more useful to be in one of these. The reason is that if you win a prize with a small publishing house, you could be tied into an unadvantageous contract, and you might find they don’t do the best job with the cover and editing. In those below, you won’t get a guaranteed deal, but you might find the attention you receive is even more valuable.

The Mail on Sunday have run a competition for the past few years to submit the opening page of a novel. No details appear online but this is the gist of what appears in the paper:

CWA Debut Dagger (disclaimer: I work for the CWA, but it’s still a great competition with an impressive track-record of getting people published) It’s for crime/thrillers only and opens in October each year.

Mslexia: a women-only competition where you submit the first 5,000 words. Open now!

Harry Bowling Prize: first chapter and synopsis of a novel with any urban setting. Runs every two years – also currently open!

Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize: another one for women, aged over 21. Has closed for this year.

Lightship First Chapter competition: Has just closed for this year and I’m not clear if it does include publication, but seems worthwhile

Competitions that include getting published:

I’d advise carefully reading the terms and conditions for these ones. You may not actually want to be published with a smaller press in the end.

Chapter One Promotions (book doesn’t have to be finished as they’ll help you)

Virginia Prize (also for women, closing soon):

Dundee book prize:

Bridgehouse run several book competitions:

Brit Writers’ Award: there has been a fair bit of controversy over this new prize, but it’s worth keeping up with.

Unbound press – currently open:

Nemesis Publishing: also currently open

Impress prize: closed in June for this year

Macmillan new writing: a new venture where you can submit directly to Macmillan (so not really a competition). Currently closed but will open again later in the year

So there you go – lots of opportunities. It’s 5 July and the summer’s stretching ahead. If you write for an hour a day with no editing, you could be halfway through a novel by September. Get going!

With apologies for the overly positive tone above. I’m much more moany in real life.

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