Competitions at the Festival of Writing

You need to be booked to attend the Festival to enter these competitions

Friday Night Live

An amazing opportunity that could lead straight to an agent - and a book deal. Here's how it works: You send us up to 500 words from your manuscript.

  • We'll pick the seven entries we like the best.
  • The seven shortlisted writers will read their work out on Friday night.
  • We'll have some expert judges to offer their views ...
  • But the final vote will be left to the Festival audience.
  • The winner gets a bottle of fizz. Better still, you'll get the attention of every agent in the room.

The wonderful track record of success: Last year, having won the Friday Night Live Comp Joanna Cannon walked away with seven offers from literary agents. Shortly after she signed with Susan Armstrong, and this year they're back at York to judge the opening chapter comp (see below for details). And in 2013, after reading for Friday Night LIVE, writer Deborah Install, was approached on the spot by agent Jenny Savill and is now the proud owner of a six-figure publishing deal. 

From great beginnings: In its inaugural year, the winner of the comp was Shelley Harris, who was offered representation by a number of different agents as a result. She signed up with Conville & Walsh, who had multiple publishers interested. Weidenfeld & Nicolson won the auction ... and the book is now available from all good bookshops.

This year could easily be your year, you just need to enter! And to do just this, all you need to do is: 

Email us by 19th August. Your email must have "Friday Night Live" as the subject and you should attach an excerpt from your manuscript (max 500 words) as a Word document or PDF file. Please include your booking ref. in the body of the email. 

We will acknowledge receipt of entries by 30th August. Thereafter only the seven shortlisted candidates will be notified of their success - by 1st September. Please don't email us to chase us! We have enough to do around then.

One entry per ticket. If you're chosen as one of the seven, you will need to be present on the Friday night, so do make sure your ticket includes the full Festival weekend - or at least make sure that you can get to York for that evening.


 

Best opening chapter 

Judged by Agent Susan Armstrong and Author Jo Cannon.

Here's how it works: you send us your opening chapter (up to a max of 3000 words) plus a one-paragraph descriptionof the book.

  • We'll winnow the entries down to a shortlist of 6 or so, then we'll pass on those entries to our judging panel of top agent, Susan Armstrong, and last year's Friday Night LIVE winner, Jo Cannon. Jo signed with Susan shortly after last year's event. Her first novel The Problem with Goats and Sheep is out soon.
  • They'll then pick a winner and two runners-up.

Email us by the 19th August with your entry using "Best Opening Chapter" as the subject line of your email. You should attach the opening chapter of your MS (up to a max of 3000 words) preceded by a short one para summary of the book. Those things should be in a single document, which may be either a Word document or a PDF file. Please include your booking ref. in the body of the email. 

We welcome fiction and non-fiction; work aimed at adults or children; and any genre at all.

If your book contains a prologue, we suggest you skip that and send the first chapter instead - but we don't know your book and can't advise you. It's up to you to make the call. Just send us a maximum of 3000 words drawn from the start of your book.

We will acknowledge receipt of entries by 30th August. Shortlisted candidates only will be notified by 2nd September. Winner and runners up will be announced at the Gala Dinner on Saturday night. The winner will be invited to read a short extract from their work following the dinner - but that's optional.


 

Let’s find a children’s book star of 2016!

Judged by Agent Julia Churchill.

Julia joined AM Heath in 2013 as Children's Agent, after four years building up the UK side of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, and six years at the Darley Anderson Agency where she grew the children’s list. She represents some fabulous writers, but is always on the treasure hunt for new writing talent. She’s looking for debut and established authors with storytelling magic, from picture book texts right up to YA fiction.

To enter please email us by 19th August. Your email must have "Children's book star of 2016" as the subject. To get a good sense of the voice, concept and where the character is headed, we’d like to see the first 5,000 words PLUS a short description of the book (a few lines) AND a one page outline that shows the spine of the story. Please also include your booking ref. in the body of the email. 

If you’re submitting a picture book (or shorter fiction that comes in under 5,000 words), then please send the complete text.


 

We're looking for the perfect pitch: So what's the hook?   

Judged by Agents Jo Unwin and Sam Copeland.

If a book doesn't have a strong, convincing and intriguing concept, your book will not be taken on by an agent. Jo Unwin and Sam Copeland are looking for the best elevator pitch of 2015. If you're not sure what one of those is, here's our Harry with a quick reminder.  

 We're wanting your best one paragraph (max 150 words) book pitches – one children’s prize and one adults.  It needs to be a grabbing, easily communicated concise description of what your story is about.

To enter please email us by 19th August. Your email must have "Pitch Perfect" as the subject and you should attach a one paragraph (max 150 words) book pitch as a Word document or PDF file. Please include your booking ref. in the body of the email. 

We will acknowledge receipt of entries by 30th August. Thereafter only the shortlisted candidates will be notified of their success - by 1st September.


 

Submit your superb blurb for the chance to win an extra-special print package

Send in your superb blurb for the chance to win ten copies of your book in beautiful paperback, just in time for Christmas. What's more, the winner will receive help from the expert team at CompletelyNovel.com to design their book, inside and out. 

 To be in with the chance of winning this extra-special prize, all you need to do is send us a short promotional piece for your book (max 100 words). We're looking for the positive, colorful description you envisage on the back cover. 

To enter please email us by 19th August. Your email must have "Best Blurb" as the subject and you should attach a one paragraph (max 100 words) book blurb as a Word document or PDF file. Please include your booking ref. in the body of the email.

We will acknowledge receipt of entries by 30th August. Thereafter only the shortlisted candidates will be notified of their success - by 1st September.