First Chapter Competition

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

Extra benefit added to the prize this year: a 1-hour Zoom meeting with our literary agent judge!

2024 Judge – Eli Keren

Eli Keren is a literary agent at United Agents in London. See his full profile on the agency website here.

Eli Keren started his publishing career at Curtis Brown before joining United Agents as an assistant in 2016. In 2021 he became an associate literary agent, representing a growing list of clients across fiction and non-fiction, actively seeking books that are going to make a positive impact in the world in some way, big or small. Before working in books, Eli was a research scientist designing and synthesising novel drugs (white coat and everything), and science books remain a particular passion of his. He is also very interested in LGBT-themed books in both fiction and non-fiction. In 2023 he was elected treasurer of the Association of Authors’ Agents.

Please note that this contest is for YA and Adult Fiction novels only. We do not accept submissions of children’s novels.

First Prize

Submission package (cover letter, synopsis and first three chapters) review and written feedback from Eli Keren and a 30-minute Zoom meeting to discuss your work.

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 Eli Keren on the first chapter he reads during the judging process. This is provided in the blog announcing the results.

Deadline: 28th January 2024

Entry fee: £10 or £50 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 the deadline date (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 3,000 words (no minimum word count) and on any theme and subject (except children’s fiction). If your chapter is longer than that, we recommend you edit it down rather than just cutting it off at the limit.
  • Email entries are not accepted.
  • Name the document you upload with your novel title.
  • Please use a an easy-to-read font of 12pt or 14pt 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 appropriate 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.
  • The judge’s decision is final.
  • There are no alternative prizes.