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Fiction Prize logoNow going into its 13th year, the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize is famous for helping undiscovered female writers launch their literary careers. Founded in 2010, by Professor Janet Todd OBE, the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize has gone from strength to strength with many shortlisted and winning authors securing publishing deals and furthering their writing. The Prize has developed a formidable reputation for attracting first-class writing talent and as such judges are seeking entries that combine literary merit with 'unputdownability.'

The Prize is for a novel by a woman over the age of 18 that marries literary merit with unputdownability. The work can be on any subject at all. We welcome submissions of literary fiction and genre fiction equally. Novels for young adults or children are acceptable if they are mainly word-based; picture books are excluded.

The 2023 Fiction Prize is now open for entries

  • Deadline to submit as a paid entry: 12 noon on Friday 10th February 2023.
  • Deadline to submit as a low-income writer: 12 noon on Wednesday 8th February 2023.

The work you submit must be unpublished, and must not have been accepted for future publication or self-published. In addition, anyone who has previously had a full-length novel accepted for publication is not eligible to enter. Entrants must be resident in the UK or Ireland.
To be considered, you need to supply us with your entry fee of £12, and submit the first 40-50 pages of the novel via the online form and a synopsis (3-5 pages long) of the remainder (Your entry can be part of an unfinished work. You do not need a completed novel to enter the prize).

Terms and Conditions

  1. 2023 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize is open to unpublished women writers, aged 18 or over, who live in the UK or Ireland.

  2. We welcome submissions of literary fiction and genre fiction equally. 

  3. Novels for young adults or children (middle grade or above) are acceptable if they are mainly word-based. 

  4. Picture books, jointly authored novels and short stories are not eligible for submission.

  5. The novel must be unpublished, and must not have been accepted for future publication or be self-published (publishing part of the novel on a blog or website eg one chapter makes a novel ineligible for this competition). 

  6. Authors must not have agent representation at the time of submission.

  7. Only one entry per person is permitted for the 2022 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.

  8. Authors cannot have a previous novel published.

  9. If you accept agent representation after your submission and before the judging is complete, you will no longer be eligible to take part in the competition and your entry will be discounted. If you accept agent represention, please inform Ella Barrett (fictionprize@lucy.cam.ac.uk) regarding this.

  10. No current staff member, Fellow or full-time student of Lucy Cavendish College can enter the competition.

  11. Shortlisted authors and the winning author will be expected to participate in promotional activities throughout the year.

  12. The Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize will be expected to be mentioned in any published novels that are associated with the Prize.

  13. Any entrant found to be in contravention of any of the terms and conditions will be automatically disqualified.

  14. The judges’ decision will be final. The judges reserve the right not to award the prize if they think that none of the entries are of sufficient merit.

NB: Due to the volume of entries received it is not possible for the judges to provide feedback on non-shortlisted entries. Please check the FAQS for more information.

To enter the 2023 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize click here.

Deadline to submit as a paid entry: 12 noon on Friday 10th February 2023.

Deadline to submit as a low-income writer: 12 noon on Wednesday 8th February 2023.

Thanks to the generosity of friends and supporters we are able to offer a number of sponsored entries for low income writers otherwise unable to afford entry fees.

How to apply for a sponsored entry

To apply, please select the ‘Sponsored Entry’ option in the Entry type of our online entry form. Applicants must be able to provide proof of financial eligibility such as: Jobseeker’s Allowance; Disability Benefit; Income Support; Working Tax Credit; proof of being a full-time student; Housing Benefit; proof of being a full-time carer. This must be uploaded under the Sponsored Entry - Proof of Financial.  We will confirm if you have met the criteria for a sponsored entry. All details will be kept confidential. Please change the entry fee on the online entry form to £.00 if you are applying for a sponsored entry.

Deadline to submit as a low-income writer: 12 noon on Wednesday 8th February 2023.

Interested in sponsoring a low income writer?

If you would like to sponsor a low income writer, or have any other queries, please email: fictionprize@lucy.cam.ac.uk

The judges will draw up a shortlist of submissions. Those entrants, plus one guest per shortlisted entrant, will be invited to the prize-giving drinks reception and awards ceremony. Industry representatives will also be present, as will Fellows and students of the college. This annual occasion has been instrumental in introducing previous winners to their respective agents, and allows attendees to mingle with industry specialists.

The Chair of the judging panel, will announce the winner and award the prize of £1,500.00 at a drinks reception at the beginning of the evening. All shortlistees will have the chance to meet industry representatives at the reception.
All shortlisted entrants will receive one-to-one consultation with an agent at our sponsor Peter Fraser + Dunlop (subject to them not having an existing agent) who will give each author editorial feedback as well as valuable publishing advice.

Q. I entered this competition last year but I have reworked my novel, can I submit it for the 2022 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize?
A. Yes.

Q. My piece is a short story.  Can I enter it?
A. No, this competition is not open to short stories.

Q. Can I submit more than one entry?
A. No. It is one entry per person only.

Q. What format should my synopsis take?
A. There is no fixed format for the synopsis - this is left to the discretion of the writer.  The synopsis might be a detailed breakdown of the remainder of the plot or a written sketch that gives the flavour/ overview.

Q. I only have a working title at the moment. Does this matter?
A. No.  The title helps with the administration.  If you reach the later stages of the competition you will have the opportunity to amend the title if you want to.

Q. I can’t see any information about anonymising my entry.  Is it ok to have my name on the entry? 
A. There is no need to anonymise your entry.  You can, if you wish, include a header or footer with your name and working title, though this is optional. But please remember to include page numbers though!

Q. I can’t get my payment to go through/ I don’t get re-directed to PayPal to make my payment- what can I do?
 A. It’s worth trying another internet browser eg Chrome or Firefox.  Don’t worry if it takes a couple of goes to complete the submission and payment (duplicate entries are deleted from the system).  You’ll get an automated “thank-you for your entry” email – any concerns get in touch at fictionprize@lucy.cam.ac.uk.  All entry fees need to be received by the deadline for the entry to be considered.

Q. I don’t have a PayPal account. What should I do?
A.  No problem, you can pay via PayPal without having a PayPal account, simply follow the instructions.

Q. I don’t have a card to use for online payment.  Can I pay the entry fee another way?
A. Yes – it is possible to pay via bank transfer. Please send a short email to fictionprize@lucy.cam.ac.uk and I’ll send you the necessary payment information.  Please note that the entry fee must be received BEFORE the deadline, for the entry to be considered, so please allow time for your payment to be received and clear.

Q. I am using a card in a different name to pay my entry fee, how will you link the payment to my entry? 
A. The submissions received via the online system are given an ID number and this shows on the payment too (if made via the PayPal page) so there is no problem.

Q. I’ve tried using various internet browsers but I still can’t get the submission form to work. What can I do?
A. Please send an email fictionprize@lucy.cam.ac.uk and further information will be sent to you ie for an email submission.

Q. I write under a pen name, can I include this on my entry? 
A. This information must be added to the entry form (both your legal name and your pen name) and you are welcome to use your pen name on your entry if you wish, this is optional.

Q. I have written a textbook/ children’s picture book/ short story/ poem which has been published. Am I eligible to enter the start of my debut novel for this competition?
A. Yes.  Provided that you have not had a novel published, for the purposes of this competition you are considered an unpublished novelist and therefore eligible to enter, if you meet the other criteria.

Q. I am British but I’m currently living overseas, can I enter?
A. No. To be eligible to enter you need to be living in the UK or Ireland (nationality is not relevant).

Q. I have published chapters of my novel on my blog/website self-published.  Can I still enter? 
A. No, the competition is only for authors that have not published a novel.

Q. I have published an entire book on my website/blog/ self-published via Amazon etc – however this is a different novel.  Can I enter this different novel to the competition?
A. No, the competition is only for unpublished authors.

Q.  I have submitted my novel to another competition. Can I enter it for the Lucy Cavendish Prize too?
A.Yes.  (Even if you have won another competition with the same novel, as long as it remains unpublished online or in print and you do not have agent representation)

Q. I can’t upload PDF files. Can I send Word documents (.doc or .docx) instead?
A. Yes, these will be converted to PDF files before being sent to the judges (PDF files are preferred if possible – sometimes the formatting goes awry in the conversion!).

Q. What font size and spacing do you require?
A. Please use font size 12 and line spacing of 1.5.

Q. Is there a word limit for my submission?
A. No, we do not have a word limit, but instead require the first 40-50 pages of your novel alongside a 3-5 page synopsis.

Q. My files are too big or the file title too long for the online submission. What can I do? 
A. Please send an email to fictionprize@lucy.cam.ac.uk

Q. I haven’t finished writing my novel.  Can I still enter?
A. Yes– you need only have completed the first 40-50 pages and have a synopsis of the remainder (3-5 pages) to enter.

Q. How can I apply for a sponsored entry as a low income writer?
A. To apply, please select the ‘Sponsored Entry’ option in the Entry type of our online entry form. Applicants must be able to provide proof of financial eligibility such as: Jobseeker’s Allowance; Disability Benefit; Income Support; Working Tax Credit; proof of being a full-time student; Housing Benefit; proof of being a full-time carer. This must be uploaded under the Sponsored Entry - Proof of Financial. We will confirm if you have met the criteria for a sponsored entry. All details will be kept confidential. Please change the entry fee on the online entry form to £.00 if you are applying for a sponsored entry.

Q. Is there a maximum or minimum number of words?
A. No (but remember short stories are not eligible for this competition).

Q. I have a question not covered in this list.  What should I do?
A. Please get in touch -  email: fictionprize@lucy.cam.ac.uk.

PFD logoThe Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize is sponsored by Peters Fraser and Dunlop (PFD), one of the longest-established literary and talent agencies in London.

Their generous support and vision for the Prize has enabled many shortlisted and winning authors to begin successful literary careers.
PFD kindly provide valuable industry insights to our shortlisted authors, through one-to-one consultations with judge and Head of Books at PFD Tim Bates, who shares editorial feedback and discussions about the marketability of the shortlisted work.

As part of the 2023 judging panel, Tim will be looking for unique storytelling and compelling prose – perhaps the next bestseller?
You can follow them on Twitter @PFDAgents.

Dr Isobel Maddison 

Isobel Maddison judges quote

Sheena Patel 

Sheena Patel judges quote

My first novel, I’m A Fan came out in June 2022 with the paperback coming out in March 2023 and I am a longlist judge for the Fiction Prize.

I have never judged before so I am excited to learn the process and encounter some new work from new writers.                                                                           

To aspiring writers I would say: write! Put nothing in your way, just sit down and do it, you don’t need anything other than your mind and a way to record your thoughts. There’s no right way to write, some people need noise and other people need quiet but you don’t need a cabin in the woods and three clear months, just write when you can and as much as you can. I find community very helpful, I’m part of a collective called 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE, we’re four friends who wanted to hear each other’s words so we will share things and have published together outside of the traditional model of publishing. Do it! Let them all catch up with you! 

Jackie Ashley

Jackie Ashley's quote

I was the 8th President of Lucy Cavendish and took over the running of the prize from my predecessor Janet Todd, who set up the prize. In recent years it has gone from strength to strength, both in term of profile and entries. When I left Lucy Cavendish in 2018 I was delighted to join the judging panel for the prize and was Chair of the judges in 2020 and 2021.

My favourite aspect of being a judge is meeting with the authors at the prize-giving ceremony. Each one of them knows that being longlisted or shortlisted can be life-changing, as so many entrants have won representation at this stage. The long and short-listers usually get to know each other via social media and it's wonderful to see a new community of writers emerging every year.

My advice to aspiring writers is to keep going, even if you face rejection or writer's block for a while. Many of the most successful novelists have battled through difficult times, but their determination has won out in the end. Specifically for this prize I would suggest not ignoring the synopsis...several entries in previous years have sent us a brilliant few first chapters, but then the synopsis seems to to be muddled or vague. There's always scope to re-work and refine the plot, but it's worth giving it some thought before sending your entry in. 

Phoebe Morgan

 

 

Silvia Molteni - agent interview

Which genre do you work in?

I work with children’s and YA novels across all genres, with a preference for contemporary and realistic settings, humour, magical realism, dark and gothic tales – in the literary and upmarket space, voice and character-driven rather than plot driven. I’m less keen on fantasy, sci-fi and highly commercial fiction.

What makes a standout submission, in your opinion?

A clear, original and immediate hook, a strong opening and good pace; as well as good comps and a reasonable overall wordcount. I generally veer towards voice and character driven narratives as well as literary fiction and gorgeous writing, so I need to see all of this in a submission from the start.

What is it that makes a book ‘unputdownable’?

Voice, voice, voice (!) that goes hand in hand with a well-crafted and unputdownable plot of course

 

                         

                                                                     Winner announced for Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2022

Meet our judges Read more
Our success stories Read more
Meet our shortlisted authors Read more
Get inspired with blogs by published writers, previous winners and shortlisted authors Read more
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