What is this?
This is an award for any unagented or unpublished writer of PB/CB/MG/YA fiction of any genre. We have two categories – Novel and Picture Book – and each is judged separately, with individual prizes for each.
This will be the 4th year of the award.
Who is this for?
Any unagented or unpublished writer of PB/CB/MG/YA fiction of any genre.
How much does it cost to enter?
We have simplified entry this year – a single entry costs £12. However, if you enter, you will receive that £12 back, with a free month’s membership (at Level 1) in our Hub.
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.
What is the prize?
1st Prize: 1-2-1 with one of our agent judges, submission package report from one of our editors, 1 year WM Hub membership at Level 2, and trophy
Shortlist: 1-2-1 with one of our agent judges, submission package report from one of our editors
Picture Book Award:
1st Prize: 1-2-1 with one of our agent judges, PB text report from one of our editors, 1 year WM Hub membership at Level 2, and trophy
Shortlist: 1-2-1 with one of our agent judges, PB text report from one of our editors
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 2021 to January 31st 2022.
Longlist announced: End of February 2022.
Shortlist announced End of March 2022.
Winner announced: April/May 2022.
Who are the judges?
We are delighted announce our double judging team for the joint awards for 2022.
Clare and Lydia from Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency bring a wealth of experience across all age groups and genres, and are delighted to have the opportunity of being the joint shortlist judges for book the Novel and Picture Book Awards.
In case you don’t know Clare and Lydia, a full biography is below for both of them, but rest assured they are top agents with an eagle eye for talent, representing some of our favourite authors, and many of the WriteMentor community.
Clare joined the Darley Anderson Agency in January 2011 and is building both the Darley Anderson Children’s Agency and the Darley Anderson Illustration Agency lists. As chief talent-spotter, Clare loves to discover memorable new characters, bold and unique voices, strong concepts and gripping storytelling. She represents picture books, middle-grade, teenage and YA. Clare is particularly looking for funny chapter books for younger readers at the moment as well as YA rom coms, especially with underrepresented protagonists. Whatever the age range, Clare loves a big hook, a lot of heart, and a standout voice. For picture books she has the widest taste, from daft to lyrical, rhyming to prose. If your submission doesn’t fit a description here, it doesn’t mean Clare doesn’t want to receive it. She often doesn’t know what she’s looking for until she finds it (although she is not the person for steampunk or space opera). Her list gives a good indication of her taste.
Clare is actively looking for submissions from underrepresented writers. Please include the hashtag#diversevoices in the subject line of your email when you submit.
The clients Clare represents include Perdita & Honor Cargill, Caroline Crowe, Tom Ellen, Martyn Ford, Stewart Foster, A M Howell, Polly Ho-Yen, Rachel Ip, Beth Reekles, J.P. Rose, Lindsay Galvin, Dave Rudden, Deirdre Sullivan and Efua Traoré.
After a childhood buried in library books and Beanos, Lydia started her career in the editorial team at Egmont, where she commissioned books such as the Carnegie Medal-winning The Poet X. She joined the Darley Anderson team in 2018, and is building an engaging and diverse list of authors and illustrators. With experience on both sides of the commissioning desk, Lydia loves working editorially with her clients and developing ideas from an initial spark into a full manuscript. She represents clients across all age groups, including picture book, chapter book, middle grade and YA, and has a particular focus on non-fiction. Lydia reads and considers widely, and among other things she is looking for snort-inducing stories for younger readers, clever and contemporary teenage and YA fiction, and non-fiction projects that take big ideas and make them easily navigable, accessible and fun. No matter the story, Lydia is drawn to voice above anything else and will always be sucked in by a strong hook.
Lydia is actively looking for submissions from all under-represented writers. Please include the hashtag #diversevoices in the subject line of your email when you submit.
Lydia represents clients including Soofiya, Gina Blaxill, Mark Bradley, Ryan Hammond, Alice Harman, Joyce Efia Harmer, Catherine Jacob, Hannah Moffatt, Rachel Morrisroe, Nick Sheridan, Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Eva Wong Nava. If you could sum up her tastes in three words, they would be curious, characterful and heartfelt, and in three books, they would be One of Us is Lying, Nevermoor and You Are Awesome.
We will chat with both for more information on what they’re looking for closer to the time of entries opening (usually 1st December), but in the meantime they wrote this terrific guide for authors:
Don’t think you can wait until next year for them to judge your work? Well, why not submit to them now (if you’re ready!): https://www.darleyandersonchildrens.com/submissions
- 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.
- Independently published writers, who have not received an advance may enter, but not with the published novel.
- Submit a synopsis (single-spaced) and then first 3,000 words (1.5 or double-spaced) in the same word document.
- The word limit is not negotiable and if you exceed this, your entry will not be read. We suggest finishing at a suitable point before 3000 rather than mid-sentence. A great 2000 word entry, that finishing on a great cliffhanger is probably more effective than a 2997 word entry that stops in the middle of a scene.
- For PB writers, send us the whole manuscript, with a short synopsis at the start (a pitch would suffice).
- No artwork or illustrations please. Text only.
- Use 12″ and a plain font like Times New Roman. Put page numbers in the footer.
- DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME ANYWHERE ON THE DOCUMENT.
- DO PUT THE TITLE OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT IN THE HEADER.
- 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.
- Use the link at the top of the entry form page 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.
I entered last year – can I enter again?
Will I get the same readers?
It’s unlikely, as our pool of readers does change a little, and the odds of getting the same 4 readers as last time are very slim.
Can I enter more than 1 novel/text?
Yes, enter as many as you like, but each one will need it’s own entry form and fee.
Will I get a confirmation email when I enter?
Yes, it will be emailed to the address that you input on the entry form. Do check junk/spam folders before enquiring.
I don’t have word – how can I submit a .doc or .docx file?
If you do not have word, then you can paste your entry into Google Docs, then download the file as a .doc or .docx
We have nearly 150 people judging in total, many of which will not be able to access files sent in other formats.
What happens if I sign with an agent during the reading/judging period?
Send us an email, or a message via the contact form, and you will need to withdraw from the day of signing your contract.
Should I include my prologue?
Simple answer. If your prologue is good, I’d include it! 🙂 Seriously, this is your call, but our experience is that when you only have 3000 words to grab our attention, and if your prologue isn’t in the main storyline, it might be worth considering leaving it out.
Do I HAVE to do a synopsis?
YES! We understand the agony, but don’t fret – simply hit us with a blow by blow account of the main things that happen in the story – 1 page, single spaced – and that will work fine. Ultimately you won’t miss out on being listed due a poor synopsis, but you will due to a poor chapter 1, so focus on that.
I’m only a few words over 3000, can I just enter them…plllllllllease?
Sorry, but no. Only way to ensure absolutely fairness is to apply this upper limit rigidly. Most writers will spend hours editing and cutting, or choosing to end earlier to make the limit, so you should, too. Worth noting that a 2000 word extract that is great is just as likely to get listed as a 2999 word extract, and it’s unlikely the latter will finish in a place that is perfect for making your reader want more. That is the priority over a few extra words.
Which age category should I put down?
Hard for us to answer, but the general rule is kids tend to read 2 years up. So if your main character is 12, you’re looking at a 10 year old reader.
Am I guaranteed to sign with an agent if I’m shortlisted?
No. But 75% of our shortlisted authors in 2019 and 2020 are now with agents, and we even have a couple of published authors from that group, too. We offer no guarantees, performing well in a novel award means you have impressed many adult and kid readers and is a good sign that your story has appeal.
I’ve entered. What should I do while I wait?
Take care of yourself. Take a break. Do something else. Write something else. Forget about the competition and set a reminder for the day of the longlist announcement. Casually browse the list when it’s announced, without expectation or hope, and if you’re not there, at least you’ve been working on something new and won’t be too disappointed. If you are on there, then it’s a nice surprise and welcome boost.
But the absolute priority is you, and your mental health and wellbeing, so please enter, then forget about it. Writing a long game and is not about 1 individual competition or moment in time – keep up the good habit of submitting and moving on and it will benefit you in the long run.
Good luck! And May the Force be with you!