We are delighted to announce our judges for the WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award for 2021.

Pictures Books

Judge(s)Justine Smith and Paul Moreton
Entry: £5
Prize: £250 plus a text review and 1-2-1 call with Justine and Paul.

Justine joins Bell Lomax Moreton from Pan Macmillan, where she has been commissioning and acquiring picture books. She is an experienced and versatile author and editor who has worked at Penguin, Dorling Kindersley, Templar and Big Picture Press in senior publishing roles. She has also worked as a script editor in children’s animation and over her 30 year career has developed, written, edited and published bestselling and award-winning baby and preschool books, picture books, non-fiction, 5 – 8 and middle-grade fiction.

Justine has always loved that special blend of words and pictures, unique to storytelling for children. She holds a Postgraduate Diploma in illustration and continues to work as a children’s author and freelance editorial consultant.

At Bell Lomax Moreton Justine works with authors and illustrators to shape their work for submission to publishers.

Paul is the Managing Director of Bell Lomax Moreton. He joined the agency in 2000 from Penguin Books, where he was Head of Children’s Book Sales. He’s interested in children’s books across all age ranges and narrative non-fiction, biography, sport, music and autobiography. He’s also interested in crime fiction and anything a bit weird and wonderful.

Novels (Chapter Book, Middle Grade and Young Adult)

JudgeLauren Gardner
Entry: £10
Prize: £500, plus trophy.

Lauren joined Bell Lomax Moreton in April 2014 as literary assistant and has been agenting full time since October 2015. She graduated in 2009 with a degree in English Literature and Drama from the University of Manchester, and has a background in lifestyle and entertainment PR.

In adult non-fiction, Lauren has a keen eye for spotting new trends and big ideas. She has a specialism for working with digital first talent and working with authors to develop book ideas that originate from new media, including podcasts, Instagram and YouTube.

She is currently is looking for narrative and illustrated adult and children’s non-fiction projects, ranging from people undertaking extraordinary challenges and having amazing adventures, to young activists, podcast creators, diverse voices, and experts in STEM, History, Pop Culture, Fashion and Mental Health fields.

She has a passion for children’s literature and is also looking for young fiction and middle-grade debuts with heart, humour and maybe a supernatural or high concept twist (or two). For teens and YA, a good swoony romance will always be top of her TBR pile, and she would love to find the next Louise Rennison (think diaries of a young Fleabag). Lauren is actively looking for children’s fiction and non-fiction submissions from diverse and marginalised authors across all age ranges and genres.

Lauren does not represent Adult Fiction, SFF or Picture Books.

Find out more about our judges and who they represent over at the Bell Moreton Lomax website.

Who can enter?

Any unagented or unpublished writer of PB/CB/MG/YA fiction of any genre.

How much does it cost?

Entry fee is £10. If you are low-income and unable to pay this, you can enter for free. However, this is limited to 30 spots and 1 free entry per writer. (So enter early if you want a free spot).

Our aim is to give an opportunity to everyone in our society, particularly those who are less privileged. If using a free entry, type CONCESSION into the payment reference box. If you don’t do this, we will not be able to count your entry.

Why charge a fee at all?

We have some small expenses to cover and we want to award a cash prize to help the winner develop their writing in some capacity.
We also pay our readers and ensure our child readers get a book voucher.

I wrote a full blog post on the financial breakdown of running the novel award, to illustrate where every penny of your entry fee goes. (Spoiler, it’s not being spent on lightsabers!)

What do I need to submit to enter?

We are looking for the first 3,000 words of your novel and a 1-page synopsis (at the start of your single document).

For PB, we will want the whole manuscript.

What are the important dates?

Entry window: December 1st 2020 to January 31st 2021.

Longlist announced: End of February 2021.

Shortlist announced End of March 2021.

Winner announced: April/May 2021.


  • All entries should be for completed manuscripts (or complete and polished by January 31st 2021).
  • We are accepting only PB/CB/MG/YA entries of any genre.
  • You cannot be agented or traditionally published.
  • To clarify, self-published novels are eligible.
  • Indie published writers, who have not received an advance may enter, but not with the published novel.
  • Submit a synopsis (single-spaced) and the first 3,000 words (1.5 or double-spaced) in the same word document.
  • For PB writers, send us the whole manuscript, with a short synopsis at the start (a pitch would suffice).
  • Use 12″ and a plain font like TNR. Put page numbers in the footer.
  • Please DO NOT have your name in the name of the document you upload. We are reading and judging anonymously. The ONLY place your name should be is in the name field on the form.
  • Name your document in the format of ‘TITLE.docx’ – i.e. ‘THEHOBBIT.docx’.
  • The manuscript titles will be able to be matched with names based on your entry form alone. We want all entries to be read blind.
  • Due to how google uploads documents into our drive, your name may appear in the title of the document when you get your confirmation email. DO NOT WORRY about this – Stuart will check and edit all document names before sending to readers, so they will be read blind. You do not need to email/message to explain this.
  • Use the PayPal /Stripe link to pay your entry fee.
  • If you are unable to pay this, simply type CONCESSION in the box on the entry form. You do not need to provide any evidence or explanation for this.
  • However we are limiting the FREE entries this year to 30 and one FREE entry per person.
  • If you are long listed for the novel award, we will contact you after the announcement to ask for your full manuscript. Please send this within 7 days.
  • If you are shortlisted, we will forward your full manuscript onto our judges.
  • All announcements will happen via the site, so do sign up to receive alerts of new blog posts and to our mailing list, as well as Twitter account.
  • Those under the age of 18 are ineligible due to safeguarding reasons. If you are younger than 18 and wish to enter, please ask an adult to do this on your behalf.
  • You may enter as many novels/texts as you wish, but they must be complete and unpublished.
  • All entries will be sent digitally. We are committed to being green and want to keep costs for writers down, so mail entries will not be allowed.