First Chapter Competition

Send the opening chapter of your novel to win feedback from top publishing industry professionals.

2021 Judge

Sam Jordison is a publisher, author and journalist. He is the co-director of Galley Beggar Press and has worked on many successful and award-winning titles, including Lucy Ellmann’s, Ducks, Newburyport, Preti Taneja’s, We That Are Young, and Alex Pheby’s, Lucia. He also writes about books for The Guardian and has written several non-fiction titles including Enemies Of The People and the best-selling Crap Towns series.

First Prize

Submission package (cover letter, synopsis and first three chapters) review and feedback from Sam Jordison.

Second Prize

Feedback on first three chapters from Amanda Saint, publisher and commissioning editor at Retreat West Books (winner Most Innovative Publisher 2020 Saboteur Awards).


Short feedback from Sam Jordison on the first chapter he reads during the judging process. This is provided in the blog announcing the results.

Deadline: 31st January 2021

Entry fee: £10 or £75 with detailed feedback on the first chapter you submit

Competition T&Cs

  • Submit your first chapter only through Submittable using the button below by 23.59 GMT on 31st January 2021 (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 note section in Submittable as we cannot see this until we have chosen the shortlist. 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  • The novel should be unpublished and not have been accepted by a publisher – if it is accepted by a publisher after submission but before the judging takes place then it will no longer be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 2021 and the winners in June 2021.
  • The judge’s decision is final.
  • There are no alternative prizes.

If you sign up as a Retreat West Author Member you can get entry to this 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.