Saturday, 8 June 2013



We are thrilled to launch this year’s Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. The competition is open to unpublished writers of novelistic fiction for children and one lucky winner will see their manuscript published by Chicken House with the backing of a leading literary agent. Please read on for all the information you will need in order to enter your manuscript into the competition. (Scroll down for a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions).

What Chicken House are looking for:
Original ideas, a fresh voice and a story that children will love! To enter, you must have written a completed full-length novel suitable for children aged somewhere between 7 and 18 years. By full-length we suggest a minimum of 30,000 words and ask that manuscripts entered do not exceed 80,000 words in length. For Barry Cunningham’s top tips on what makes a great children’s novel, click here.

What you can win:
First prize is a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House with a royalty advance of £10,000, plus representation from a top children’s literary agent*. All longlisted entrants will receive a reader’s report of their work.

When to enter:
The competition opens Saturday 13th April 2013 and closes Friday November 1st 2013. You may enter your manuscript anytime between these dates, but entries must be received by the final postal delivery on Friday 1st November to be eligible for entry. We do not allow amendments to manuscripts we have already received, so make sure you are completely happy with your entry before you send it.

What to send:
You will need to send us a hard copy of the full manuscript (double-spaced; font size 12pt), a covering letter explaining why you believe your novel would appeal tochildren and telling us a bit about yourself, a page-long synopsis of your story and a chapter-by-chapter plot plan outlining the major events of each chapter. Please secure your manuscript with an elastic band and place it inside a cardboard wallet/folder. You will also need to enclose a cheque for £15 made payable to Chicken House Publishing Ltd. Please mark your envelope CHILDREN'S FICTION COMPETITION. If you wish us to acknowledge receipt of your entry, you must enclose a self-addressed postcard with sufficient postage attached**. We cannot accept entries by email.
The winner:
A longlist of approximately 20 entries will be selected by the Chicken House readers and will be announced in January 2014. Barry Cunningham will then select a shortlist of five manuscripts, announced in February 2014. The winner will be selected by the panel of judges (including Barry Cunningham of Chicken House, Amanda Craig of The Times, and top teen author, Melvin Burgess) from the shortlist of five manuscripts. The winner will be announced at the end of March 2014.

Barry Cunnigham's Top 5 Tips:

Where should I send my entry?
Send your full entry in an envelope marked CHILDREN'S FICTION COMPETITION to:
Chicken House
2 Palmer Street
BA11 1DS
Can I enter my picture book into the competition?
No. The competition is for full-length novels only.
I have already self-published my novel. Can I still enter it into the competition?
Yes. You may submit a novel if it has been self-published. You may send the self-published copy if you wish to.
I have previously had published a short story/poem/picture book for children. Can I still enter?
Yes. This year we have extended the opportunity to enter to those authors who may have already had published a children’s picture book. Writers who have had short stories or poetry published are also eligible to enter.
I have entered my manuscript to the competition before, but wish to submit it again. Can I?
Yes. We understand that manuscripts can change significantly between drafts and we encourage writers to continue to improve their work. Therefore, this year we have changed the rules so that previously submitted manuscripts can be re-entered into the competition.
I am under 18. Can I enter?
No. The competition is open to writers over the age of 18 only. If you are under 18 and would like to receive an email with advice for young writers, please email
Is the competition open to international entrants?
Yes. For information on how to make your payment from overseas, please contact
* Subject to contract. For full terms and conditions of the prize please read the Competition T&Cs.
** International entrants may request confirmation by email but must include a slip with their entry expressing their wish for confirmation along with their full email address. For details on how to make payment from overseas, please contact