“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 read more

Katy McNair winner of BPA First Novel Award
Katy McNairWinner 2019
“I entered my novel without expectation, and I am so grateful the (lovely) people at Blue Pencil Agency and the judges saw its potential. Their investment in my characters was an absolute highlight. The whole experience, from the tweeted lines to the long and short-listings has given me renewed energy and ambition for my novel, and now there are people waiting to read it (this competition gets noticed). The editorial review is a really valuable prize for any writer, and a great personal deadline. Whatever stage your work is at – polished to perfection or diamond-rough – do give it a go!”
Thecla Condon was runner up in the 2019 Award. She is working on her novel Tell All the Bees and will have the manuscript reviewed by one of our editors later next year.

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Thecla Condon runner up BPA First Novel Award
Thecla Condon2019 Runner Up

“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

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Highly commended Neil Daws and Nelle Andrew
Neil DawsHighly Commended 2019
“It was such a spectacularly happy time that you created for us all and the good effects continue…
It was an immense privilege to be part of such a special gathering.”

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Blue Pencil Agency London
Kate BAsthall Manor retreat 2019

“Louise’s workshop was really informative and encouraging. I immediately went and split my novel into four piles and was relieved to discover it worked!” read more

Blue Pencil Agency London
Katherine SAsthall Manor Retreat 2019

“Louise was engaging and knowledgable. She gave us useful and practical tips which we could all implement immediately. I really recommend her as a speaker.” read more

Blue Pencil Agency London
Sue RAsthall Manor Retreat 2019

“A well structured programme, the editorial sessions and workshop with Louise Doughty were excellent.” read more

Blue Pencil Agency London
Sharon LAsthall Manor Retreat 2019

“It was a really, really special few days, a very well structured programme, brilliant location and fantastic food. it was lovely to meet Emma and Sara as well as to spend time with a fantastic and supportive group of writers. Thank you so much.” read more

Blue Pencil Agency London
Jane MAsthall Manor Retreat 2019

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.

Gill Thompson author Oceans Between Us
Gill Thompson2017 Shortlist
“Hayley and I have been working on rewrites, especially around plot development. Her feedback has been so helpful in shaping the plot and developing the undercurrents that weren’t quite right – I’m really hoping I can do it all justice. It’s a massive step forward beyond where I’d ever got to before with my writing so I’m really grateful for the opportunity that came from the shortlisting!”
Sue Barsby was shortlisted in 2018. She is working on her novel Living in Twilight with Hayley Steed from Madeleine Milburn Agency.
Sue Barsby2018 Shortlist