#Merky Books New Writers’ Prize – application form

Got everything you need to enter this year's prize? This is the place to do so.

The word 'application' in block pink letters on a black and white swirly background.

The #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize is open to young, underrepresented, and unpublished writers from across the UK and ROI.

We are asking for a 200 word synopsis and 1,500 word extract for works of fiction and non-fiction, and a 200 word synopsis and 500 word extract for works of poetry.

If you've read all the FAQs here and are ready to apply, fill out the form below before Friday 30th October 2020.

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 sixteen (16) to thirty (30) 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 30 October 2020 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 and non-fiction, and a 200 word synopsis and 500 word extract for works of poetry. 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  All entries must be original, previously unpublished works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry.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 a judging panel comprising staff and representatives of #Merky Books and Penguin Random House. A shortlist of writers will be selected, and asked to submit their full manuscripts (or as much of their manuscripts as is available – the manuscripts should be in a close-to-completed state). The manuscripts of the shortlisted writers will then be forwarded to a judging panel comprising Stormzy, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Emma Dabiri, Guz Khan, Candice Brathwaite, and representatives of #Merky Books, and the winner will be the entry that in the opinion of the judges is of the highest quality, is the most ready for publication and fulfils the aims of the prize to find talented young writers from all backgrounds, writing stories that are not being heard, and deserve to be read.

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 March 2021. 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 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 consent 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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