Note: The deadline for the 2023 BPA Award has now passed. I will update this post as soon as the 2024 competition opens.
Wondering if you should take the plunge and enter the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award 2023?
As an aspiring author myself – and a 2022 long-listee – I highly recommend going for it.
When my work-in-progress The Husband Whisperer was long-listed for the last year’s award (read an extract from my entry here), it led to several introductions to top literary agents.
Read on to find out why you should give your unpublished manuscript a chance to shine by entering this year’s competition…
This post is all about why you should enter the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award 2023.
(Note: This is not paid content. I just really love BPA’s competition!)
Why should you enter the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award?
1. The prizes are excellent
This year the prizes are as follows:
Winner: £1,000 + Agent Introduction
Runner up: £500 + Agent Introduction
Highly Commended: £150 + Agent Introduction
The Award is open to unrepresented and unpublished authors for a novel in any adult fiction genre.
The entry fee is £24.
Full details on submitting an entry are available here.
2. It could land you an agent (even if you’re not placed)
Many previous winners – and also short- and long-listed entrants – have been taken on by top literary agents including Madeleine Milburn and Nelle Andrew as a direct result of entering the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award.
If you’ve been submitting your work-in-progress to agents, then you’ll probably know that it can be a heart-breaking progress. The waiting, the rejections, then back to waiting again…
When you enter a competition like this, you know your work will be read by experienced readers within a set timeframe. It can also help you to dodge the dreaded slush pile and make it to the top of an agent’s reading mountain.
The literary judges of this year’s competition are the highly-regarded Eve White and Ludo Cinelli of the Eve White Literary Agency, so it’s a fantastic chance to get your writing in front of them.
Even if you don’t win, the competition can open lots of doors. My work-in-progress The Husband Whisperer was longlisted for the 2022 competition.
When the shortlist was announced, the Blue Pencil Agency got in touch to say that my novel had just missed out, but that one of the agent judges wanted to read the full MS.
The agent passed on my novel in the end, but that wasn’t the end of BPA’s support. (See No. 4 below).
Click here to read the testimonials of previous entrants on how the competition has helped them to get an agent.
3. It could lead to a book deal
Gill Thompson was shortlisted for Blue Pencil Agency’s first ever First Novel Award in 2017. This accomplishment proved a stepping stone on the journey to getting her novel The Oceans Between Us published by Headline Press in 2019. Find out more here.
Carolyn Kirby was awarded first prize in 2017 and went on to publish her first novel The Convictions of Cora Burns. Read more here about her success story.
4. Ongoing support from the Blue Pencil Agency
Even though the 2022 agent-judge who requested my full manuscript ended up passing on it, Emma Haynes from the Blue Pencil Agency was incredibly helpful and encouraging.
She send my full MS to two more top literary agents that she thought might like The Husband Whisperer. When they passed on it, she continued to give me support (completely free!) and advice.
While the feedback from agents was encouraging, we both agreed that the MS may need some more work before submitting it to more agents.
Once that work has been done, I know Emma will be there to help – the BPA genuinely want to help their short- and long-listed entrants (and of course their winners) to get published.
When I entered last year’s Award, I never expected so much follow-up support.
5. Get a much-needed morale boost
Getting longlisted for last year’s award gave me a great morale boost, but I remember the disappointment when the shortlist came out and my novel hadn’t made the cut. But then an email came through from BPA with this lovely feedback that made my day:
The Husband Whisperer was greatly admired particularly by the agent judges and honestly if we had been able to add one more title to the shortlist it would have been this one!
This was the validation I needed to keep going. Many other writers have also found that the competition gave them a confidence boost.
Author Gill Thompson is quoted on the BPA website as saying that “the thrill of being placed was a great morale booster”.
And Carolyn Kirby had this to say about her experience: “Winning the Blue Pencil Agency competition gave me confidence that my novel is a good one and this, I would say, is the most valuable reward an aspiring writer can get”
So why not go throw your hat in the ring? It could be the best £24 you ever spend!
Entries can be submitted here.