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Getting published

Writing prizes and opportunities

There are many awards and development schemes available for authors at all stages of their careers. Below is a list of monetary awards, sponsored retreats, mentorships and training opportunities.

If you're looking for help both in development or funding from organisations near you, find information about local support here.

Take a look through the opportunities for new writers:

- Opportunities from Penguin
- From other organisations
- For published writers
- Writing retreats

For new writers

From Penguin

WriteNow is run by Penguin Random House and aims to find, nurture and publish new writers from communities under-represented on the nation's bookshelves. It offers workshops and feedback, and includes the chance to join a year-long programme.

#Merky Books is a home for underrepresented voices and provides a platform where their stories can be told, heard and uplifted. The winner of the New Writers’ Prize receives a publishing contract. All longlisted writers are invited to our Writers’ Camp, where they participate in writing workshops, panel talks, editorial one-to-ones, and meet the #Merky Books team.

Penguin Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Books, is a leading publisher of commercial fiction and non-fiction. The aim of the Penguin Michael Joseph Undiscovered Writers' Prize is to find new authors from underrepresented backgrounds who we can bring to the widest possible readership. The winner will receive a publishing contract worth at least £10,000, and representation by the Janklow & Nesbit agency. All shortlisted writers will also receive one-to-one editorial feedback and guidance from an editor or agent.

The Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize aims to recognise the achievements of young translators at the start of their careers and to encourage and support the next generation of literary translators. It focuses on a different language each prize year and is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 34, with no more than one full-length translation published.

The Fern Academy Prize, in association with Tortoise Media, is designed to find and nurture emerging non-fiction talent and will be awarded to an essay of literary merit with an international and multicultural interest. The prize is open to unagented and unpublished writers from around the world, writing in the English language.

From other organisations

Awarded for the best piece of writing on an annual theme. The winner of the Writing Prize receives a cash prize, and the runners-up receive travel expense support that must be used to attend their annual symposium which is hosted in a European country. All genres of writing are permitted, including fiction, non-fiction and non-academic essays. Open to unpublished writers only.

Established to recognise and encourage excellence in the craft of poetry writing and to provide a platform for publication, the Anthology Poetry Competition is open to original and previously unpublished poems in the English language.

Established to recognise and encourage creative writing and provide a platform for publication, the Anthology Short Story Competition is open to original and previously unpublished short stories in the English language by a writer of any nationality, living anywhere in the world. 

The Aurora Prize for Writing is a national competition run by Writing East Midlands, in partnership with the Society of Authors. It seeks outstanding new writing in short fiction and poetry.

The Financial Times and McKinsey want to encourage young authors to tackle emerging business themes and ask entrants to submit a business book proposal. The prize aims to encourage a new generation of business writers and has already seen a number of shortlisted and longlisted proposals emerge as published books. 

The Bath Novel Award and The Bath Children’s Novel Award spotlight emerging writers, and are open to unpublished and independently published novelists worldwide.

The First Novel Award is open to unrepresented and unpublished authors for a novel in any adult fiction genre.

Curtis Brown Creative, supported by the Curtis Brown and C&W agencies, run a programme of creative writing courses, mentoring opportunities and scholarships for under-represented writers – with all opportunities fully funded for the writers taking part.

Curtis Brown Creative, supported by the Curtis Brown and C&W agencies, regularly offer funded places on their courses to talented writers facing barriers to entry.

This mentoring programme is for talented writers who fulfil the eligibility criteria and are seeking targeted, detailed one-to-one feedback on a work-in-progress, plus industry advice. You can apply to be mentored for a project at any writing stage.

Entries of original short fiction between 1000 and 5000 words can be entered into the Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize. The winner will receive £1,000 and 12 shortlisted writers will be included in an anthology. 

The Bridport Prize has a number of categories: novel, poetry, short story and flash fiction. All the awards are for work which has not previously been published, while the novel award is only open to writers who are not represented by a literary agent.

This is an annual international writing competition open to all published and unpublished, UK and non-UK-based writers.

An Edinburgh-based, international writing competition for unpublished and self-published novelists in all genres for adults and YA.

The prize is open to all Commonwealth citizens aged 18 and over entering a story of between 2,500 and 5,000 words. The regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives a total of £5,000. The winning stories are published online by Granta and in a special print collection by Paper + Ink.

The Creators of Justice Literary Awards is an annual, international contest featuring works which highlight the struggle for human rights and social justice across the world. Writers can submit one poem, essay, or short story on an annual theme.

The Creative Future Writers’ Award (CFWA) is a national writing development programme which celebrates talented, underrepresented writers who lack opportunities due to mental health issues, disability, health or social circumstance. Prizes include £20,000 of cash and top writing development prizes supplied by prominent publishers and development agencies.

CRIPtic Arts x Spread the Word collaboratively produce a range of activities including salons, a retreat and research for deaf and disabled writers. Their work together aims to offer a range of activities to support, develop and empower deaf and disabled writers.

The Women’s Prize Trust, NatWest, Curtis Brown Literary Agency and Curtis Brown Creative Writing School have partnered to create Discoveries, a unique initiative searching for the most talented and original new female writing voices in the UK and Ireland. The winner will be offered representation by Curtis Brown Literary Agency and a cash prize of £5,000.

Footnote Press and Counterpoints Arts have partnered to launch the Footnote x Counterpoints Writing Prize for writers from refugee and migrant backgrounds. The £15,000 award, which includes an advance of £5,000 and a publication agreement with Footnote Press, is for narrative non-fiction centred around themes of displacement, identity and/or resistance. Writers can be published or unpublished.

Green Stories writing competitions are a series of free writing competitions open to all across various formats to solicit stories that showcase what a sustainable society might look like. 

The 2023 Novel Prize is open to authors from all countries, provided their submissions are in English. To be eligible to enter, authors must be unrepresented. Entrants are asked to submit the first 5,000 words of their manuscript.

Geared towards supporting writers at the start of their careers, the programme includes writing development masterclasses, literary networking opportunities, peer support and guidance in use of the Library’s resources. With its extensive open-access book collection, dedicated writing spaces and diverse community of established writers, the benefits of Library membership are very valuable. 

This is a development programme run by Spread the Word which aims to increase the number of writers from under-represented communities being taken up by agents and publishers. The awards support  30  London-based writers of  colour  and working class, LGBTQ+ and disabled writers  each year, and bursaries are available for writers in need. There is also an Access Fund for disabled writers. Writers on the awards scheme take part in group feedback sessions on their work and also attend one-to-one professional development sessions.

The Mairtín Crawford Awards are aimed at writers working towards their first full collection of poetry, short stories, or a novel. Both published and unpublished writers are invited to submit between 3-5 poems for the poetry award, and a short story of up to 2,500 words for the short story award, with the only stipulation being that they have not yet published a full collection of poetry, short stories, or a novel.

City Lit’s Malorie Blackman Scholarships for Unheard Voices provide three annual awards worth up to £1000 each, to fund one year’s study within the Creative Writing department at City Lit. 

The Manchester Writing Competition for poetry and fiction, offers the UK’s biggest literary awards for unpublished work, with each category awarding £10,000.

The Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing is an annual short story competition open to writers across the globe. The prize awards £10,000 to the best short story that has food and drink at its heart.

Jointly run by Morley College London and the Rachel Mills Literary Agency, the prize is awarded to unpublished aspiring authors of colour. There are two prizes – one for works of fiction and one for Life Writing and Creative Non-fiction.

The Moth Magazine runs an annual short story prize, nature writing prize and poetry prize open to anyone from anywhere in the world, as long as their writing is original and previously unpublished.

The National Poetry Competition is one of the world’s most prestigious prizes for an unpublished poem of up to 40 lines, open to anyone 18 or over.

Open to poets from around the world, the winner receives £1,000, with a second prize of £300 and a third prize of £200. 

The Nine Dots Prize is a prize for creative thinking that tackles contemporary societal issues. Entrants are asked to respond to a question in 3,000 words, with the winner receiving $100,000 to write a short book expanding on their ideas. The aim of the Prize is to promote, encourage and engage innovative thinking to address problems facing the modern world. Its name references the nine dots puzzle – a lateral thinking puzzle which can only be solved by thinking outside the box.

The winner of the Oxford Poetry Prize receives £1,000, the runner-up £200, and third place £100. The winning poets are also offered publication in Oxford Poetry.

The Poetry London Prize is a major, internationally renowned award for a single outstanding poem. The first prize is £5,000.

Run by Wasifiri, the magazine of international literature, in conjunction with Queen Mary University, this prize supports new writers.

The Rhys Davies Short Story Competition is a distinguished national writing competition for writers born or living in Wales. The first prize is £1,000 and publication in a short story anthology to be published by Parthian Books.

The annual prize of £1,000 goes to the best unpublished short story of the year. The winning entry is also published in Prospect magazine and the RSL Review.

The New Writers Awards is an annual awards programme supporting individuals committed to developing their writing. The award includes a cash award, a week-long retreat, training and mentoring.

The Next Chapter Award is an annual award supporting an emerging writer over the age of 40. The Award includes a cash reward, 2-week writing retreat, training and mentoring.

The Society of Authors runs annual awards, which are open to writers at all stages of their careers. Among them is The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award for a short story (applicants need to have had at least one short story accepted for publication); and The McKitterick Prize, which is given annually to an author over the age of 40 for a first novel, published or unpublished.

The competition is open to original, unpublished and unbroadcast short stories in the English language of 3,000 words or fewer. The first prize is €2,000 and a one-week residency at Anam Cara Retreat.

Searchlight Writing for Children Awards is an international competition for aspiring authors writing for children or young adults. Categories are 'Best Children’s Picture Book Text' and 'Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults'.

Chicken House are looking for original ideas, a fresh voice, and a diverse range of entries and stories that children will love! They'd particularly like to encourage entry from writers from underrepresented backgrounds. The first prize is a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House with a royalty advance of £10,000, plus an offer of representation from an agent.

The Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize is an international prize that supports and celebrates the best adventure writing today. The Prize is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English. Awards are presented in three categories: Best Published Novel, New Voices and Author of Tomorrow.

Writers & Artists run the W&A Working-Class Writers' Prize – a celebration of stories as a mode of communication, and a reminder of how vital it is that everyone can share their ideas and experiences via the written word. The prize includes a cash prize and mentoring sessions with an acclaimed author.

Run by The Deborah Rogers Found - set up in memory of a late literary agent - The Writers Award gives £10,000 to an unpublished writer to enable them to complete a first book. It is run biannually.

For published writers

These awards are for published writers only, and in order to be considered books must be nominated by their publisher or agent - authors cannot usually enter themselves (with the exception of the fellowships). However, as a writer looking to get published, it's always worth taking stock of the titles being longlisted and shortlisted for some of the top literary awards to give you a sense of which types of books are receiving critical acclaim. We've included prizes for fiction and non-fiction titles here. 

The Baillie Gifford Prize rewards excellence in non-fiction writing across current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.

An annual prize, entrants must have a prior record of publishing creative work in the UK. Stories up to 8,000 words are accepted and may be submitted by the author or by their agent. Shortlisted stories are awarded a prize of £600.

The leading literary award in the English-speaking world, which has brought recognition, reward and readership to outstanding fiction for over 50 years. Awarded annually to the best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK or Ireland. Although you have to be nominated by your publisher, many debut novels have been longlisted and shortlisted in the past.

The Desmond Elliott Prize encourages publishers from across the UK and Ireland to submit literary fiction debuts for consideration, awarding one winning author £10,000 to shape their developing career.

The Forward Prizes for Poetry honour excellence in contemporary poetry published in UK and Ireland.

This prestigious £30,000 prize goes to the book that is judged to have provided the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues, with £10,000 awarded to each runner-up.

Celebrating outstanding writing by great authors living in the UK and Ireland, these awards list the best books of the year for their quality of writing and readability. There are four categories: Children’s Fiction, Debut Fiction, Fiction and Non-Fiction. An overall winner, given the Nero Gold Prize for the “Book of the Year”, is also be named.

Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories, and drama. The winner receives a prize of £30,000.

The RSL Christopher Bland Prize is an annual award of £10,000 to a debut novelist or non-fiction writer first published aged 50 or over.

The annual award of £10,000 for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place.

The Ignite Fellowship supports established writers who are embarking on or working through a significant project. You can apply whether the project is in its very earliest stages or already a work in progress.

The Women's Prize for Fiction is the UK's most prestigious annual book award celebrating and honouring fiction written by women.

Writing retreats

Arvon runs an annual programme of creative writing courses and retreats for schools, groups and individuals. Their courses, tutored by leading authors, are held at three rural centres and include a mix of workshops and individual tutorials, with time and space to write, free from distractions of everyday life. Arvon courses are in a range of genres and they have different styles of courses. Grants are available to help with course fees.

The Garsdale Retreat is a creative writing centre in the Yorkshire Dales. It provides inspirational courses tutored by professional writers, enabling participants to develop their individual creativity in a place of peace and tranquillity, away from the distractions and stresses of everyday life.

Gladstone's Library is a residential library and meeting place which is dedicated to dialogue, debate and learning for open-minded individuals and groups, who are looking to explore pressing questions and to pursue study and research. They offer a programme of courses and events that keep them connected with a wide range of writers and thinkers.

Moniack Mhor is Scotland’s National Writing Centre. Based in the Scottish Highlands, they run courses in a range of genres tutored by some of the finest authors in the UK and beyond. They also sponsor awards, bursaries, and professional residencies to develop works in progress and a programme for young writers.

This former flour mill in South Down, Northern Ireland is now a boutique reading and writing retreat. They offer individual residencies and workshops. 

Tŷ Newydd is the National Writing Centre of Wales, run by Literature Wales specialising in residential creative writing courses.

Providing residential retreats in Devon and one-day courses in London, they offer guidance and space away from everyday life.

We will keep this page updated with new opportunities as and when they become available. If you want to let us know about a new opportunity, please email us: gettingpublished@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk

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