Competitions at the Festival of Writing

If you’re looking to make an impression at the Festival of Writing, try out competitions. Competitions help writers capture the attention of every agent present, not just in your one-to-one sessions.

Read up on Festival competitions, and take note, past winners have achieved big.

Friday Night Live

Friday Night Live is 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 and the attention of every agent in the room.

In its inaugural year, the winner of Friday Night Live was Shelley Harris, who was offered representation by many agents as a result. She signed up with Conville & Walsh. In 2014, the same happened to Joanna Cannon, who received offers of representation from seven literary agents. Joanna had her debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep published with HarperCollins. Her follow-up sold for a six-figure deal.

So just send us your best work. There’s no reason not to.

The agent submissions builder

Write a perfect query letter and a brilliant synopsis. In just one hour.

Best Opening Chapter

Here’s how it works.

  • You send us your opening chapter (up to a max of 3,000 words), plus a one-paragraph description of the book.
  • We’ll winnow the entries down to a shortlist, then we’ll pass on those entries to our judging panel of super-agents.
  • They’ll then pick a winner and runners-up.

Pitch Perfect

Here’s how it works.

  • You send us your best one paragraph (150 words) book pitch.
  • We’ll winnow the entries down to a shortlist, then we’ll pass on those entries to our judging panel of super-agents.
  • They’ll then pick a winner and runners-up.

Here’s agent Carrie Plitt’s advice on Pitch Perfect:

“Your pitch needs to be a grabbing, easily-communicated, concise description of what your story is about. The more specific, the better: tell me the protagonist(s) of the story, where they are, and the central narrative drive. This should be an intriguing taster, not the whole plot – and try to leave out any extraneous information. Imagine that your pitch is the back cover of your book. What would it say? How would you make someone excited to read the first page?”

How to Enter

Friday Night Live
To enter, you’ll need to email us quoting your name and Festival booking reference before deadlines given in your booking email. Your email should have “Friday Night Live” as the subject and you should attach an excerpt from your manuscript (a maximum of 500 words) as a Word or PDF file, preceded by a short one paragraph summary of the book. These should be in a single document.

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

One entry per ticket.

Best Opening Chapter
To enter, you’ll need to email us quoting your name and Festival booking reference before deadlines given in your booking email. Your email should have “Best Opening Chapter” as the subject and you should attach the opening chapter from your manuscript (a maximum of 3,000 words) as a Word or PDF file, preceded by a short one paragraph summary of the book. These should be in a single document.

If your book contains a prologue, we often 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.

We welcome fiction and non-fiction, work aimed at adults or children, and any genre at all. If you’re shortlisted, you will need to be present at the Gala Dinner on Saturday night, so do make sure your ticket includes this or at least make sure that you can get to York for that evening.

One entry per ticket.

Pitch Perfect
To enter, you’ll need to email us quoting your name and Festival booking reference before deadlines given in your booking email. Your email should have “Pitch Perfect” as the subject and you should attach your pitch (a maximum of 150 words) as a Word or PDF file.

We welcome fiction and non-fiction, work aimed at adults or children, and any genre at all. If you’re shortlisted, you will need to be present at the Gala Dinner on Saturday night, so do make sure your ticket includes this or at least make sure that you can get to York for that evening.

One entry per ticket.

The agent submissions builder

Write a perfect query letter and a brilliant synopsis. In just one hour.