First Chapter Competition

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

2022 Judge

Nicola Barr is a literary agent at the Bent Agency in London. You can read all about her here, but in summary what she’s interested in is:

  • Literary fiction – whether elegant and page-turning or unsettling and experimental. She likes to read about families, about oddballs, about women struggling and women achieving, about the disenfranchised. She occasionally likes darker than dark and very much likes to be made to laugh.
  • Upmarket, commercial well-written crime and women’s fiction – particularly if they speak to a social issue, shine a light on a true-life injustice, have an atypical hero or heroine.
  • Grounded contemporary YA  – think Eleonor Park and Fangirl.

First Prize

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

Second Prize

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


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

Deadline: 30th January 2022

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 30th January 2022 (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.
  • Name the document you upload with your novel title.
  • Please use a 12pt easy-to-read font and double spacing.
  • 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  • The novel should be unpublished and not have been accepted by a publisher – if it is accepted by a publisher after submission but before the judging takes place then it will no longer be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 2022 and the winners in June 2022.
  • The judge’s decision is final.
  • There are no alternative prizes.