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Competitions

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Seven career-changing opportunities

Over the years Mslexia has developed a portfolio of highly respected competitions that have propelled many women’s writing careers to the next level. 

Winners, and finalists have discovered that being placed in a Mslexia competition can make a huge difference to how their work is perceived. Our finalists have signed multi-book deals, been awarded grants, achieved agent representation and had their entries broadcast on national radio. Just mentioning a Mslexia longlisting in a cover letter will make the recipient sit up and take notice.

As well as generous cheques, the prizes we offer include publication, career mentoring, manuscript feedback, pitching workshops, and personal introductions to agents and editors. For many the results have been life-changing.

‘The Mslexia Novel Competition was my first big ‘yes’ as a writer, and this summer my agent sold it in a 10-house auction’ Imogen Hermes Gowar, author of The Mermaid And Mrs Hancock

‘My winning pamphlet led to the publication of my first full collection The Disappearing Room (Arc Publications), and my second, The Night We Were Dylan Thomas, published in May 2021. I feel sure that had I not won the Mslexia competition, many of the poems in these books would not have been written.' Mara Bergman

We currently run two annual poetry competitions (for single poem and poetry pamphlet), two annual short fiction competitions (for short story and flash fiction), two biennial novel competitions (for adult novels and novels for children and young adults), and one biennial memoir competition. Scroll down to the Explore panel for details and entry instructions. We operate a sponsored entry scheme for low-income women. 

Explore

Open for Entries

Our 2021 Fiction Competitions are now open, with a starry line up of judges that include Hilary Mantel, A L Kennedy and Marianne Tatepo. There are three categories (Novel, Short Story, Flash Fiction) and winners and finalists go on to great things. Closing date for all categories: 20 September.

Novel (Adult)

Submit the first 5,000 words of a novel for adult, or young adult readers over 50,000 words. Judges: Hilary Mantel DBE, Marianne Tatepo, Jo Unwin. 1st Prize: £5,000. Winner and Finalists receive manuscript feedback from TLC and personal introductions to literary agents. Closing date: 20 September.

Novel (Children's & Young Adult)

We run our Children’s & Young Adult Novel Competition for women writers every two years. The competition will open again on 1 June 2022. Past judges include Malory Blackman, Anne Fine, Katherine Rundell and Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Poetry (Single Poem)

This annual competition will open again on 1 September 2021 with a closing date of 6 December. Previous judges include Carol Ann Duffy, Jo Shapcott, Wendy Cope, Kathleen Jamie and Karen McCarthy Woolf.

Poetry (Pamphlet)

This annual competition will open again on 1 September 2021 with a closing date of 6 December. This competition is intended to act as a stepping-stone for poets en route to publication of a full-length collection.

Short Story

Submit complete short fiction up to 3,000 words. Judge: A L Kennedy. 1st Prize: £3,000. Winner and three finalists will be published in Mslexia. Eight additional finalists, alongside the four winners, will be published in Mslexia's inaugural ebook anthology Best Women's Short Fiction 2021. Closing date: 20 September.

Flash Fiction

Submit complete short fiction up to 300 words. 1st Prize: £500. Winner and three finalists will be published in Mslexia. Eight additional finalists, alongside the four winners, will be published in Mslexia's inaugural ebook anthology Best Women's Short Fiction 2021. Closing date: 20 September.

Memoir and Life Writing

We run our Memoir & Life Writing Competition for women writers every two years. The competition will open again on 1 June 2022. Previous judges include Kate Clanchy, Julie Myerson, Jenny Brown and Isobel Dixon.

Meet the Winners

Browse the most recent winners of our seven main competition categories: a snapshot of excellence as assessed by the individual criteria and idiosyncratic tastes of our latest group of expert judges.

Competitions Policy

Can I enter another competition at the same time? What happens to my manuscript? Do you announce the names of shortlist? We treat your work with the same respect we would wish for our own writing.

Entry Instructions

Are self-published manuscripts eligible? How do you define ‘unpublished’? We spell out the eligibility criteria and instructions for entering all of our competitions.