#Merky Books New Writers’ Prize: FAQs

Here's everything you need to know before entering the #Merky Books New Writers' Prize.

The word FAQs in block yellow writing on a swirly black and white backgroud.

Got a question about the #Merky Books New Writers' Prize? Take a look below to find out the answer.

Can I enter on behalf of someone else?

Yes, as long as the person you are submitting on behalf of fits the eligibility criteria and can be contacted via email or telephone.

I've just turned 36. Can I enter?

#Merky Books was created as a home for a new generation of voices, and to encourage a new generation of readers. We want to focus on supporting younger writers, so we settled on the 18–35 age range. If you are 36 or older by the time applications close on Tuesday 29th August 2023, or 17 or younger, you will unfortunately not be able to enter. 

Why has the age criteria changed?

#Merky Books has a passionate and evolving audience that we value and listen to. In the past few years of running the NWP we have received feedback that the original cut off age of 30 was too young. This year we have decided to amend the age range for entries from 18 to 35.

I've only just started my book project. Can I still enter?

Yes, providing you have enough material to complete the application form (including a synopsis of 200 words and an extract of 1,500 words for fiction.

Shortlisted writers will be assessed, and a winner decided based on the strength of their manuscript (or as much of their manuscript as is available).

Are you accepting entries for children's books?

No. We may however adapt the New Writers’ Prize to focus on children’s and young adult books in the future.

Why are you not accepting non-fiction or poetry this year?

This year we wanted to focus on literary and commercial fiction. We are looking for the next Bolu Babalola, Cecile Pin and Caleb Azumah Nelson. We still publish non-fiction and poetry.

Can I enter if I already have a literary agent?

Unfortunately not. We want to discover new voices and writers who don’t already have access to the publishing industry. The winner will be introduced to our network of agents.

If you already have a literary agent, you can ask them to submit your work to an editor at #Merky Books separately from this prize.

Can I enter if I've already had work published? What if I'm self-published, published in another format or genre, or published as part of an anthology?

We aren’t able to accept applications from writers who have had a book published in the UK before. We would be happy to receive applications from writers who have been published in another format altogether such as a magazine or newspaper.

Can I post my submission to you?

We are only accepting entries via our online portal, which is open from Tuesday 25th July – Tuesday 29th August 2023.

Can I submit my project to you outside of the prize?

#Merky Books does not accept unsolicited submissions but we are always open to receive submissions via literary agents.

Can I submit more than one manuscript?

Unfortunately not. We are accepting only one entry per applicant. 

Will the judges read every entry?

The judges will read all shortlisted entries. The #Merky Books team, Penguin Random House UK editors and additional staff will however be reading and reviewing every entry.

Will I get any feedback on my application?

Due to the volume of submissions expected, we unfortunately are not able to give individual feedback to every applicant. If you are successfully shortlisted, you will receive personalised one-on-one feedback on your work from one of our editors.

Timing and next steps

When will I know if I've been shortlisted?

We will be announcing all selected writers on Wednesday 18th October 2023.

Please do follow us on our social media channels for all updates, tips, advice and information on the New Writers’ Prize and how you can submit. 

What happens if I'm selected?

You will be invited to our Writers’ Camp event on Saturday 28th October 2023, where you can expect to meet the #Merky Books team and editors from Penguin Random House, as well as literary agents and published authors.

How many writers will be shortlisted?

Around twenty writers will be chosen.

Do I have to attend the Writers’ Camp to be in with a chance of being winning? And will you cover my travel expenses?

Attendance at the Camp is not compulsory. It is an opportunity to meet other writers, hear from publishing professionals and receive feedback on your work. If you cannot or would not like to attend, you can still receive feedback over email or a telephone call, and it will not harm your chances of winning in any way. All reasonable travel costs will be reimbursed by Penguin Random House. 

What happens after that?

You’ll be asked to submit 5,000 words of your novel by Monday 27th November 2023. This will be reviewed by our judges and the #Merky Books editorial team.

What do I get if I win?

The winner/s will receive a publishing contract with #Merky Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK.

Will I receive an advance if I win?

Yes, you will receive a book contract which includes an advance.

What if I win and I don't accept the terms of the acquisition/advance? Can I take my project elsewhere?

We would hope that we can agree a deal that is acceptable to you. However, if you decide that the terms are unacceptable, you are entitled to reject them. In that event, we may select another winner from the group of shortlisted writers.

If I win, when will my book be published?

A publishing schedule will be drawn up depending on the project, and taking into account how much material is available, and a publication date will be decided collaboratively, with the winning writer, your agent, and the #Merky Books team. For most books, we would expect to publish approximately a year after a final manuscript is delivered.

Question not answered above?

Get in touch with us on Twitter or Instagram @MerkyBooks. Alternatively you can email us at We'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Competition terms and conditions

1.   By entering this competition, you agree to accept and be bound by these terms and conditions.  All entry instructions form part of the terms & conditions of this competition. 

2.   This competition is open to anyone aged eighteen (18) to thirty-five (35) who is a resident of the UK or the Republic of Ireland, except for employees of The Random House Group Limited (promoter), Penguin Books Ltd, its subsidiary companies, their families and any other company connected with the competition.

3.   Entries must be received by Tuesday 29th August 2023 at 23:59 GMT (closing date) via the competition website only.  Entries that are illegible, incomplete, corrupted or which fail to be received by the closing date for any reason, will not be considered. The promoter is not responsible for entries delayed or lost in the post. Automatically generated entries or entries via agents or third parties are invalid and shall not be considered.

4.   Only one entry per person. No entrant may win more than one prize.

5.   To enter please fill in your details and copy or attach your entry via the online form found at The entry requirements are a 200 word synopsis and 1,500 word extract for works of fiction. Entries must be in the English language and must be submitted electronically in either word or pdf form.  All entries must be original, previously unpublished works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry.  Entrants must not have previously written a work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry published under a valid ISBN including works that have been self-published or are only available as eBooks.  Entrants must not be currently represented by a literary agent.

6.   The Promoter regrets that entries cannot be returned, nor will the Promoter or the competition judges enter into correspondence or give feedback on individual entries. 

7.   All correctly completed entries will be forwarded to #Merky Books and Penguin Random House UK. A shortlist of writers will be selected and asked to submit a 5,000-word extract. The manuscripts of the shortlisted writers will then be forwarded to a judging panel, and staff of #Merky Books, and the winner will be the entry that in the opinion of the judges is of the highest quality.

8.   The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be offered.

9.   Notwithstanding anything set forth in these terms and conditions if, in the sole opinion of the Promoter, none of the entries (including that of the winner) are of a sufficiently high standard to merit the winner’s prize, such prize shall not be awarded but shall instead be substituted with 10 books of the winner’s choice which are published in the UK by the Promoter

10.   Events may occur which render the awarding of the prize impossible due to reasons beyond the control of the promoter and the promoter may, at its absolute discretion, vary, amend or suspend with or without notice. 

11.   Shortlisted writers will be notified within 21 days of the closing date. The winner will be notified by January 2023. The winner must claim their prize within 5 days of the promoter sending notification. If the prize is unclaimed after this time, it will lapse and the promoter reserves the right to offer the unclaimed prize to a substitute winner selected in accordance with these rules.

12.  Other than those specified above, the promoter shall not be liable for any costs or expenses arising out of or in any way connected with this prize and does not accept any responsibility for any damage, loss or disappointment suffered by the winner as result of accepting this prize.

13.  Publication of the winning entry is subject to the terms of Clause 9 above and is subject to the winner entering into a contract with #Merky Books, part of The Random House Group Ltd (Publisher).  This will afford an exclusive licence to the Publisher, permitting the editing, adapting, publishing and licensing of all or part of the novel in all editions, formats (including print and electronic), in all languages and territories globally and subsidiary rights including film and tv, setting out all applicable financial details including a net advance and royalties which is to be mutually agreed between Publisher and Author on completion and acceptance by Publisher of the complete manuscript and providing the Publisher with an option over a second book.  Should entrants not want to grant these rights they should not submit materials.  In the event an agreement cannot be reached, as regards the contract, within thirty days of the discussions commencing, the winner shall instead be awarded the substitute prize as set out in Clause 9 above.

14.   By entering this competition each entrant confirms that: (i) his/her entry is their wholly-owned creation and to the extent that such entry makes use of any third party materials, that these have been fully cleared unless they are no longer protected by copyright or other intellectual property rights; (ii) no deliberate attempt has been made to base any fictional characters in the novel upon any individual, living or dead; and (iii) the submitted materials contain nothing that is illegal, obscene or of a defamatory nature.   Entrants will keep the promoter harmless from any claims that the entry infringes the personal or proprietary right of any other person.  Notwithstanding anything set forth above, the Publisher reserves the right to choose the most appropriate format for the work on publication.     

15.   The Publisher may plan promotional events which may require the attendance of the shortlistees and the winner.  The Publishers will discuss such events with the shortlistees and the winner once organised and will seek their express consent before confirming their attendance.

16.   By entering this competition, all entrants agree to the use of their personal data by the Promoter for the purposes of running the competition as detailed in these terms and conditions.  Details on how we process the personal data of entrants can be found in our Privacy Policy (

17.   The promoter’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into in relation to the competition.

18.   Promoter may disqualify any entrant whose entry does not comply with these terms and conditions (in promoter’s sole opinion) or who, in promoter’s sole determination, has acted in a manner that is fraudulent, dishonest or unjust to other entrants including, without limitation, tampering with the operation of the competition, manipulating or rigging votes, hacking, deceiving, using multiple accounts to submit multiple entries, cheating or by harassing or threatening other entrants, the panel or a representative of promoter.

19.   These terms and conditions are subject to English Law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

20.   The promoter’s contact details are: The Random House Group Limited, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA.

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