Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award 2019

The Award is open to unrepresented and unpublished authors for a novel in any adult fiction genre

Winner: £1,000 + introduction to literary agent, Nelle Andrew
Runner Up: £250 + manuscript review

Entries now closed for 2019.



A Thousand Ways

Alice & Iris

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down


Blood in the Blackout

Blood Bones

Coincidence Detection

Cutting the Roses


Elephant Road

Tangled Roots

Tell All the Bees

The Days Are Falling In

The Dream World

The End of Men

The Girl Who Heard Maggots

The Greater Good

The Peninsula

The Price of Blood

The Triplets of Mount Sinai

The Unmaking of Eden

This is Just an Observation




Nelle Andrew


Literary agent at PFD

Author and Agent representing some of the UK’s best-selling and award-winning authors alongside rising new talent.

2019 BPA First Novel Award Judge

Nelle Andrew is a primary agent at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop (PFD). She was nominated for Literary Agent of the Year at The British Book Awards 2018, and was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. Her career includes discovering and agenting Sunday Times, and New York Times bestsellers; award winning novelists as well as several Richard and Judy Book Club picks. Nelle has a particular affinity for debuts of any age as she is a published novelist in her own right and personally knows the struggle to get published. As such, she is keen to find those voices who she can champion into long and productive careers. She is on the board of both the Lucy Cavendish Prize for unpublished writers and more recently judged the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer’s Award.

Beth Underdown


Author of The Witchfinder’s Sister

debut author and lecturer in creative writing at Manchester University and NT writer in residence

2019 BPA First Novel Award Judge

Beth Underdown was born in Littleborough, Lancashire. Her debut novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister, is based on the witch-hunts orchestrated by Matthew Hopkins in seventeenth century Essex, and is out in the UK and US with Penguin Random House. It won the Historical Writers Association Debut Crown 2017, and was a spring 2018 Richard and Judy Book Club pick with WH Smith. Beth is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester, and Writer in Residence for 2018 with the National Trust at Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire. She is currently working on her second novel. Beth is represented by Nelle Andrew.

The team at Blue Pencil Agency will oversee all submissions.

Entries: The first chapter(s) of the novel up to 5000 words.

Entry fee: £20 for each submission. Online entry only.


Entries now closed.

Long listed writers will be contacted by email with announcements of the titles on the website on July 12.

Short listed writers will be asked to submit 20,000 words (includes the initial entry).

Winners Announcement: September 30

The winners will be notified by email and announced on our website

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.
• an original and unforgettable story that grips the reader.
• an attention grabbing first paragraph.


  • Authors must be over 18 years old at the time of entry.
  • The Award is open to unrepresented and unpublished authors of fiction at the closing date of May 31.
  • Clients of BPA who have had full manuscript reviews are not eligible to enter however those who have been to a retreat or workshop are still eligible providing they did not follow up with an editorial service.
  • Writers must advise the organisers if they accept representation during the judging period or win any other prizes. They may still be eligible for the Award.
  • Self-published authors are accepted. Entrants who have had other types of books published such as non fiction, memoir or poetry are also eligible.
  • The novel must be completed or close to completion at the closing date of May 31.
  • Long-listed or short-listed entries in other competitions are eligible.
  • Entrants may submit more than one novel but as separate entries.
  • Entries must be written in English.
  • Entries can only be submitted electronically via this site and payment made via PayPal.
  • Entrants may withdraw entries but fees cannot be refunded.
  • Judges’ decision is final. Judges are unable to comment on individual entries.
  • Copyright remains with the author, however we reserve the right to publish extracts of up to 300 words on our website as well as the opening lines on twitter.
  • By submitting their manuscript, entrants are agreeing for BPA to keep a record of their e-mail address for marketing purposes only. This information will not be shared with third parties. Entrants can unsubscribe from all communication at any time.

How to submit

  • Please enter through the link on our website
  • Download your opening chapter or chapters up to 5000 words plus a 300 word synopsis and a covering letter with some information about yourself/career as a writer.
  • Please ensure that the file name is the title of the story and ensure that this is also in the subject line of your email.
  • Entries must be in either a doc., docx, or pdf. No other formats will be accepted.
  • Entries must be double spaced in a clear font (Times New Roman or similar) and pages numbered.
  • The novel’s title must be on every page but your name should not appear anywhere on the story.
  • The covering letter should include the following details: your name, the title of your novel, your email address and telephone number, a brief CV or publication history and the genre of your novel if applicable (e.g. uplit, romance, contemporary, historical, psychological thriller, fantasy, crime, women’s, literary)
  • Go to the Shop page and click on the paypal button to pay the fee.
  • If payment is made using a different name, it is essential you include that name in the email you send with the story.