Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults 2024

Submissions from 14th May to 1st September 2024, 23.59pm UK time

Entries are invited for our exciting novel opening competition. Submit the first 1,200 words of a longer novel for middle-grade or young adult readers and a short pitch that tells us what the book is about. You don’t need to have finished writing your manuscript to enter. This year the competition is for unagented and unpublished writers only. Good luck!

Prizes

Top 10 Shortlisted Entries

Your entry included in our Pitch Book of winning stories, which is sent to literary agents and publishers to help your work get noticed.

Your entry and biography included in our Winners’ Gallery on the Searchlight Awards’ website, which agents, publishers, friends and family can access.

Second Prize

Your entry included in our Pitch Book of winning stories and Winners’ Gallery, plus an editorial review of 5000 words of your manuscript and a one-hour on-line meeting with celebrated author and creative writing tutor Steve Voake.

First Prize

Your entry included in our Pitch Book of winning stories and Winners’ Gallery, plus £1000 cash prize and a one-to-one call with our agent judge.

Key Information

Submissions from 14th May to 1st September 2024, 23.59pm UK time

Judge: Emily Talbot of United Agents

Word limit: 1,200 words, not including the title. Pitch: maximum 175 words

Entry fee per story: £16

Results published: 7th February 2025

Please read the rules below before entering the competition

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  • Shortlisted entries will be included in the Pitch Book of winning stories for UK literary agents and publishers. Please tick if you wish to opt out of the Pitch Book.
  • Please ensure that your uploaded document doesn’t contain your name, as these files will be sent to the judges. Each upload will automatically be linked to your entry.
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    Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf, jpg, jpeg, png, Max. file size: 512 MB, Max. files: 5.
    • If you are shortlisted, we will contact you for a short biography and photo. These will be posted on our website alongside your story.
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    Competition Information