We are delighted to reveal the winners of the BPA Pitch Prize 2020. The longlist contained twenty-four brilliant novel openings, and it was difficult to make the final selection. The…
BPA Pitch Prize 2020 Winners
Now in its second year, the Pitch Prize is a competition for un-agented writers looking for representation for a work of fiction.
Judge: Jane Finigan, literary agent at Lutyens & Rubinstein
Prize: For up to seven writers
Pitch your novel to Jane Finigan. Receive editorial feedback and recommendations. Industry insights and advice on next steps.
The team at Blue Pencil Agency will oversee all submissions.
Entries: We accept submissions of the first 500 words and a 300 word synopsis. You need to have written at least the first 10,000 words of the novel although we only require the first 500 words.
For tips and advice on what Jane is looking for, join us on zoom November 12 from 6.00 – 7.30 pm. For more details and to sign up go to our online events.
Submission Deadline: November 29, 2020
Winners Announcement: January 2021
The winners will be notified by email and announced on our website
One on one meetings with Jane in person or Skype: January/February 2021
This year we are offering up to 10 free entries for UK based writers on low incomes or from communities currently under-represented in publishing.
If there are more than ten applications the most promising ten submissions will be selected by the BPA team.
Please click here to Contact BPA with your application and, if relevant, proof of financial eligibility such as: Jobseeker’s Allowance; Disability Benefit; Income Support; Working Tax Credit; Child Tax Credit; proof of being a full-time student; Housing Benefit; proof of being a full-time carer.
All details will be kept confidential.
What we’re looking for:
• any genre with the exception of children’s fiction and non-fiction. YA is permitted provided there is an adult crossover.
• a strong voice.
• the makings of an original and compelling story.
• an attention grabbing first paragraph.
Jane Finigan is a partner at Lutyens & Rubinstein Literary Agency. Her list is a small but perfectly formed and spans an eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction. She represents critically acclaimed and award winning novelists including Claire Fuller, Lisa Owens, Ned Beauman, Sarah Haywood and bestselling non-fiction writers including Meera Sodha, Simon Parkin and Alex Beard. She works closely and collaboratively with her authors and is always on the look out for powerful, intelligent, witty and unexpected new voices.
Yes, she is happy to meet you on skype.
Not necessarily. The Prize offers a chance to pitch your story and get editorial feedback and industry insights. There is no obligation for Jane to take on any of the winners, although she might invite you to submit directly to her once the novel is finished.
Yes, as long as you don’t have an agent.
Yes, as long as you’ve written the first 10,000 words and you have a clear synopsis so you know where the story is heading.
The one on one sessions will be arranged at a mutually convenient time during February 2020 and can be done by skype if not in person. It is unlikely that Jane will be able to commit outside of this timeframe.
You may submit more than one entry but they need to be submitted and paid for individually.
Pitch Prize Longlist 2020
I love the BPA competitions for the following reasons:
1. The BPA team’s creative spirit and enthusiasm – sharing success stories that motivate and inspire writers on their journey.
2. The competitions are open to writers worldwide.
3. The competition includes the cover letter in the ‘submission package’. (Most competitions don’t include this but I enjoy the opportunity to pitch the novel and include comparisons and why the writer feels passionate about their story.)
4. The professional and personal response to queries.
I entered the BPA First Novel Award having never properly shared my fiction with anyone before, and not really knowing what to expect. It was without a doubt the best twenty quid I’ve ever spent.
First making the longlist — and then the shortlist! — was such a huge vote of confidence in my writing style and the story I was trying to tell with Brotherhood and to actually win was unreal. It helped not just in cementing my confidence in my writing (and silencing my imposter syndrome) but it also inspired me to keep working on my manuscript and to stick to deadlines when it came to editing.
Winning during the pandemic made things feel even more unreal, but even though I couldn’t meet the Blue Pencil team in person, I felt incredibly supported and involved and was then able to meet one of the judges, FBA’s Carrie Plitt, over Zoom to discuss my manuscript. Carrie’s continued guidance and expertise (and the depth of feedback of the rest of the BPA First Novel Award judging team) was really invaluable and helped me to see my work through a new perspective, whilst supporting me to get it ready for publication.
I am over the moon to now be signed to FBA with Carrie, and I cannot wait to see where things go next. Without sounding too cliche, it really does feel like a new beginning in terms of publishing Brotherhood and in my fiction career, and I am so pleased I decided to enter last year. It really has been an incredible experience from start to finish.
Roisin Lanigan was the winner of the 2020 Award for Brotherhood. She is represented by Carrie Plitt
I am emailing to thank you so much for taking a chance on me and telling Marina de Pass about my novel, The Silence Project. As of this week, Marina is now my agent and I am thrilled!
Because the novel was shortlisted for The Bridport Prize and was my London Library Emerging Writer submission, it was also seen by agents at A.M.Heath, but Marina has given me such brilliant feedback and encouragement that I have no doubt that she will be my ideal agent.
It’s all because of you. And the novel didn’t even make the longlist for the BPA First Novel Award, so doubly thank you for making the introduction.
“I was two months into maternity leave with my second child when I decided to enter the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award. Maybe that’s not the obvious time to write a novel, but the competition offered me everything I needed to make that £20 investment in my writing; a deadline to work towards, an achievable word count, and the chance to have my work read by an agent with a fantastic reputation. Making the longlist was a huge vote of confidence. It inspired me to work harder. To actually win felt unreal. Before I knew it, I was taking my baby boy on a trip to London to meet the lovely BPA team. Nelle Andrews not only offered me valuable feedback but signed me as a client, which is truly a dream come true. Now, I’m excited to be working towards finishing the manuscript with a view to submitting it to publishers. I’ll always be grateful that the award prompted me to take that important first step.”
Katy McNair was the winner of the 2019 Award for her speculative novel The Price of Blood. She is represented by Nelle Andrew
“Entering the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award has taken my writing life to a higher level. Self-doubt had stopped me before but just submitting something I thought had potential gave me satisfaction. The excitement of reaching the long list was only tempered by the discipline of the next deadline but then surpassed by the thrill of seeing my name on the short list and finally achieving Highly Commended. I was astounded to hear that agent Nelle Andrew wanted to meet me and elated to then sign with Nelle and begin editing my debut novel. Without the fantastic opportunity the Award offered I would not be on course to achieve my dream so everyone at Blue Pencil has my gratitude.”
Neil was Highly Commended and shortlisted for the 2019 Award. He is represented by Nelle Andrew of Peters, Fraser + Dunlop
I entered the Blue Pencil First Novel Award in 2017. The deadline provided me with much needed motivation, and the thrill of being placed was a great morale- booster. It gave me the confidence to submit my work to an agent and now that my novel The Oceans Between Us published by Headline, I realise how much gratitude I owe the agency for recognising its potential.
“Winning the Award marked a real breakthrough in my writing life. The slightly overwhelming news that I had won first prize (I found myself shaking uncontrollably!) was followed by an exciting week involving a London photo-shoot with the judges, and the sight of my face in The Bookseller. The lovely Blue Pencil Agency team gave me the chance to meet the judges and to talk about my novel in some depth with agent Eve White. This was a fantastic opportunity and one that is rare in the writing prize world. 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.” February 2018.
Carolyn’s debut novel The Conviction of Cora Burns is out now. Her second novel When We Fall is coming in May 2020. She is represented by agent Andrew Lownie.
“Unless I ever buy a winning lottery ticket the entry fee to the Blue Pencil First Novel Award will be the best investment of £20 I’ll ever make. Each stage has given me so much: the energy of a deadline to complete the first draft; the confidence boost of reaching the long list; the heady excitement of the short list announcement (coinciding with my birthday!) And now the thrilling opportunity to discuss my work with Madeleine Milburn and take the first steps towards launching my writing career. My heartfelt thanks to Sara, Emma, Fiona and Maddy.” December 2018
Jules is represented by Madeline Milburn. She is working on her debut novel My Poor Deluded Girl.