First Novel Award 2024 Announcement

We have decided to take a break from running The First Novel Award next year and will resume the award in 2025.

Upcoming Workshops & Tutorials

Book today and secure your place

Editorial Services, Workshops & Tutorials, Competitions

for Published Authors & Aspiring Writers of Fiction and Memoir

Writing is personal.
At Blue Pencil Agency we take your work personally.

There are many literary consultancies offering editorial feedback and mentoring. As a bespoke consultancy we believe in matching each client with the right editor and pride ourselves on our steady list of returning clients.

We run a programme of craft tutorials, full day workshops and Q & A sessions both in person and online. Give them a go and join our community of writers.

We also have two annual competitions for unagented writers looking for representation. Check out the BPA First Novel Award and the BPA Pitch Prize. A listing is the best way to get your work noticed and you could win an introduction to a literary agent as well as a cash prize.

A blue pencil was traditionally used by editors to show corrections to manuscripts as blue didn’t show in most reproduction processes. In the digital world blue pencils are seen more rarely but they still exist as a metaphor for editing.

The idea of collaboration between editor and writer isn’t new. Once it was the job of agents and publishers to nurture new literary talent. But in today’s saturated market you need to arrive with a polished manuscript. An editor is your second pair of eyes. Our job is to encourage, persuade and problem solve. Working with us is making the leap from the fear of criticism to accepting support and establishing a clearer perspective of the market – understanding work as product, not just art.

Writing isn’t just being heard, it’s about forming a relationship with the reader and understanding who that reader is.

Author Kara Gnodde in conversation with mentor Sara Sarre

Kara’s debut The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything was published in the UK by Pan Macmillan on March 16. It’s on sale at British airports at WHSmith as their Feel Good Read of 2023.

In the US it was selected as Barnes & Noble Fiction Pick of the Month (March); Apple’s Best Book of the Month (March); Amazon USA’s No. 1 New British Release.

Introduction to Agents

We work with leading literary agents and a number of our clients have secured publishing deals. It’s important to remember that getting published is difficult and we can only help with a perfectly polished manuscript that has commercial potential. For clients using our editorial services and whose work we feel is up to standard we may approach agents on your behalf. This would be discussed with you at the time.

Sign up to our mailing list to receive helpful advice and discounts:

A free video compilation of advice on agent submissions

Exclusive offers and discounts

Regular writing tips from our editors and contributors

Join our exclusive weekend workshops October 7/8 for novel and memoir writers. Secure your place now! spaces are limited.

Unlock your full potential as a writer and take time out from your busy life to work on your craft. Our tutor Emma Darwin and guest literary agent Marina de Pass will guide you through a series of interactive sessions designed to refine your writing skills, ignite your creativity, and provide valuable insights into the publishing industry.

This is your chance to connect with like-minded individuals, exchange ideas, and receive feedback on your work. Our intimate group setting ensures individual attention and meaningful discussions that will propel your writing career forward.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to accelerate your writing journey. Remember, with limited spaces available, early registration is strongly recommended. Online booking. Discount for booking both days.




There are many literary consultancies offering editorial feedback.  As a bespoke consultancy we believe in matching each client with the right editor and pride ourselves on our steady list of returning clients. Writing is personal. At Blue Pencil Agency we take your work personally. 

A manuscript assessment is an investment. It is very hard to write a novel full stop, but a first draft is rarely the draft that will end up on the shelves. Every writer, whether published or not, needs a second pair of eyes. A manuscript assessment offers an experienced editorial viewpoint that will draw your attentions to technical details or character development or structural issues and point out the reason why your manuscript is receiving rejections. Often writers have come back to us and said that receiving their report offered them more insight into the technique behind novel writing than any course. If you intend to self-publish then we can advise you on the way forward.

An editorial report will provide you with an overall viewpoint to include, storyline, plot, set-up, narrative arc, structure, character development, world building, prose and technical analysis.

A short report is a review of the storyline and set-up and includes an analysis of the structure of the first 15k. It is a ‘how am I doing so far’ assessment.

A submissions report looks at the package that is submitted to agents. Your submission package should contain: a letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters of your novel, up to 15,000 words. Most agents complain that letters are often full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, or that there is more information on the writer than on the novel itself. We will ensure your submission is perfect.

All of these reports usually requires the writer to do some re-writing and will come with a marked up manuscript pointing out typos etc.

A reader’s report is aimed at published authors or regular clients of BPA, and is usually given to more experienced writers. This is different to our reader’s service. Please refer to Editorial services.

A copy editor will ensure your manuscript is correct in terms of spelling and grammar, consistency, and continuity, going through the document in details with marks on the page using track changes.

To read a novel and give a detailed assessment takes from two to three weeks and requires concentration and effort. All editors are carefully chosen to suit the needs of each writer. Editors bring with them a skill set that has usually taken years of experience to acquire.

  • Mentoring allows writers to shape their novel as they go.
  • Mentoring caters for the specific needs of each mentee
  • Mentoring is fast track learning about structure, literary technique, character development and prose style
  • Mentoring teaches you how to read like a writer
  • A mentor will hold your hand and support you through a steep learning curve