2020 Retreat West First Chapter Competition


Literary agent, Carrie Plitt, at Felicity Bryan. Carrie is actively building a list of authors, with a focus on debuts. The books she represents range from the very literary to those you might read in a book club. Besides excellent writing, she is often drawn to novels that have unique voices, are portraits of complex characters, examine relationships, are coming of age stories, or capture the zeitgeist. She is always on the look-out for writers from underrepresented backgrounds. Carrie hosts a monthly books podcast and radio show called Literary Friction, which has featured authors including Sally Rooney, Olivia Laing, Gary Younge, Viv Albertine, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Ottessa Moshfegh.

You can read our blog interview with Carrie here about what impresses her when submissions land on her desk. Sign up for our mailing list and you’ll get notified when we have new blog interviews going live.

First Prize

Submission package review and feedback from Carrie Plitt.

Second Prize

Submission package review and feedback from Amanda Saint, publisher and commissioning editor at Retreat West Books (shortlisted for Most Innovative Publisher 2019 Saboteur Awards).


Short feedback from Carrie Plitt on the first chapter she reads during the judging process. This is provided in the blog announcing the results.

Deadline: 26th January 2020

Entry fee: £10


  • Submit your first chapter only through Submittable using the button below by 23.59 GMT on 26th January 2019 (sorry – any entries that have included prologues, more than one chapter and/or a synopsis will be disqualified and fees will not be returned).
  • International entries are welcome but first chapters must be written in English and can be up to 3,500 words (no minimum word count) and on any theme and subject (except children’s fiction). Email entries are not accepted.
  • Please use 12pt font and double spacing.
  • Name the document you upload with your novel title.
  • Do not include your name on the chapter, the title of your entry or the document you upload as it is judged anonymously – instead submit your contact details and short bio separately in the cover letter section as we cannot see this until we have chosen the shortlists. Any entries that have the author’s name on them will be automatically disqualified.
  • The novel should be unpublished and not have been accepted by a publisher – if it is accepted by a publisher after submission but before the judging takes place then it will no longer be eligible and entry fees will not be refunded.
  • You can enter as many times as you like but each entry must be made separately and the entry fee paid each time.
  • Long and shortlists will be announced in April 2020 and the winners in June 2020.
  • The 10 shortlisted chapters will go to Carrie Plitt to choose a winner and second-place chapter from and she will then provide detailed feedback on the winner’s first 3 chapters, cover letter and synopsis.
  • The writer in second place will receive feedback on their first 3 chapters, cover letter and synopsis from Retreat West founder and publisher at Retreat West Books, Amanda Saint.
  • All of the shortlisted entries will also receive short feedback from the judge in the blog announcing the winner.
  • The judge’s decision is final.
  • There are no alternative prizes.

Submit your chapter here



If you sign up as a Retreat West Author Member you’ll get entries to these competitions included in your benefits package, as well as whole load of other great stuff to get you writing, learning and submitting more. Get info here.