Friday 21 October 2016

The Bath Children’s Novel Award 2016


international writing competitions for unpublished & independently published novelists
NOW OPEN: The Bath Children’s Novel Award 2016
JUDGE: Julia Churchill, Literary Agent at AM Heath
SHORTLIST PRIZE: £500 Cornerstones Literary Consultancy vouchers
SUBMISSIONS: 3,000 words plus one page synopsis of novels written for children or young adults
ENTRY FEE: £22 per novel
CLOSING DATE: 20th November 2016
The Bath Children’s Novel Award is sponsored byCornerstones Literary Consultancy

The Bath Children’s Novel Award 2016 is now OPEN, with entries invited from children’s novelists of any nationality and perspective until 20th November 2016.

We’re looking for all genres of chapter, middle grade and young adult novels – from funny to dark, fashionable to forever, fantastic to futuristic, we’d love to read your manuscript!

This is The Bath Children’s Novel Award’s second year. Inaugural winner Lucy Van Smit was swiftly signed by Sallyanne Sweeney, whilst shortlistee Sophie Cameron accepted an offer of representation from Hellie Ogden. Fellow shortlistee Jane Brittan attracted a Carnegie Medal nomination for her indie-published book. Read the opening chapters of all the winning and shortlisted novels here.

Entries are longlisted by a team of junior judges aged from 7 to 17 and we are delighted to welcome children’s literary agent, JULIA CHURCHILL as this year’s Shortlist Judge. Julia Churchill joined AM Heath in 2013 as Children’s Agent, after four years building up the UK side of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, and six years at the Darley Anderson Agency where she started the children’s book side of the list.

“I’m always on the treasure hunt for new writing talent.”
Julia Churchill, Bath Children’s Novel Award 2016 Judge

Julia, thank you for judging this year’s prize. How perfect will a manuscript need to be for it to win?

I’d love to find perfection, but I don’t expect it. I’m looking for a spark of talent and intent that inspires me.

What qualities do you look for in Chapter Books / Middle Grade / YA?

It’s different every time. Each book has its own special qualities. Broadly, I’d say focus, clarity and momentum. Specifically, maybe a clever concept that’s so neat I can’t believe it hasn’t been done before, or a low key spareness to the writing, or a character that I think can run and run.

At this stage, how important is the title and what will you be looking for in a synopsis?

A good title is an asset, but it’s not vital by any means. Not at this stage. In a synopsis, I look for a clear spine to the story.

Any advice on word counts?

As long as the book needs to be. I think every serious children’s author should have a sense of the length expectations for each age group/genre. But some books can happily fall outside of the norm.

Any first page pet hates?

It’s not a pet hate, per-se, but I see a lot of submissions that start with an alarm clock going off and the character waking up. And in that case the writer has likely made the decision to start the book on the morning of the day that something happens, rather than when something actually happens.

What was the last children’s book which made you laugh / cry?

I recently re-read Goodnight Mr Tom, which moved me to tears. And the Emer Stamp books make me laugh.

What’s top of your wishlist right now?

I don’t generally have a wishlist. I’d like to find a quality commercial project, and it could be a chapter book, or a YA novel, or anything in-between. A love story, a thriller, an adventure, a character based young project, a verse novel. Who knows!? That’s the fun of it.

What makes you want to sign a writer?

I’m looking for voice, concept, character and story. Debut writers I’ve helped to break out include Sarah Crossan, Sarah Lean, Michelle Harrison, Pip Jones, Jenny McLachlan, Rebecca Westcott.

Do you represent novelists who also write for adults?

I do, but only for existing clients who diversify into writing for adults.

Best and worst aspects of your job?

Selling books for authors. I honestly get as much personal satisfaction from a ten publisher auction that ties up in days, to a selling book that takes a year to place, for a modest advance. It’s all about finding a home for each project. And the worst aspect is not selling books. Of course that can happen too, and it’s very disappointing. But it may be the subsequent project that breaks the author out. This is a long term business.

Lastly, any other advice for entrants?

Don’t rush to get it in. Take your time. That last read through with a red pen when you realise that you can leave a scene much earlier than you do, or that midnight brainwave you have about how to elegantly transition to chapter 2, may make a big difference. Good luck, I’m looking forward to reading your work!
The Bath Children’s Novel Award 2016 Rules
The Bath Children’s Novel Award is a competition for unpublished and independently published writers. Entrants should not have accepted a traditional publication offer for a novel. For the purposes of the competition, a ‘traditional publication offer’ is defined as an offer to publish a novel with advance payment.
Novels should be for children who are able to read for themselves, or young adults. Picture books and graphic novels are not eligible.
Entrants must be unagented.
Submissions should include (up to) the first 3,000 words of your novel plus a one page synopsis. Your novel extract should be double-spaced in a size 12 font and include the title. Your synopsis should be single-spaced in a size 12 font. As entries are read ‘blind’, please do NOT include your name anywhere on the extract and synopsis document.
In your email (or covering page for postal entrants), state your name, address, telephone number, novel title, genre, extract and approximate full manuscript word count, plus your method of entry fee payment.
The entrance fee is £22 per novel. You may enter as many novels as you wish.
Longlisted entrants will be announced early December 2016 and asked to submit their full manuscript for the final judging stages. Shortlisted entrants will be announced in December 2016.
The winner of The Bath Children’s Novel Award, as judged by Julia Churchill, will be announced in January 2017 and receive £2,000 plus a Minerva trophy, designed byJessica Palmer
One shortlisted writer will receive £500 in vouchers from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy which may be used towards any editorial report or mentoring hours in either Cornerstones’ US or UK house. There is no cash alternative to this prize.
Entries close 20th November 2016.
Full manuscripts may be any length, however as a guide, we recommend 6-10,000 for a chapter book, 40-60,000 for middle grade and 50-70,000 words for YA (or longer for fantasy novels).
Novels must be your original work and in English.
Entries are open to writers aged 16 years and over of any nationality and based in any country.
Entrants retain full copyright of their submissions, however by entering, all entrants give The Bath Novel Award permission to post the first 3,000 words of any shortlisted entries on our site.
The winner agrees to an interview which may be published on our site and in any media for publicity purposes.
Entrants employed by The Bath Novel Award or AM Heath Literary Agency are not eligible.
Submissions cannot be altered after entry.
Entries which do not comply with the competition rules may be disqualified.
How to Enter

To enter a novel for The Bath Children’s Novel Award 2016, please first pay the entry fee of £22 per novel by one of three options:
Bank transfer: account number 22562591 (“The Bath Novel Award”) Sort Code 60-24-77, referencing your novel’s title
Debit/credit card or PayPal payment via the below ‘Buy Now’ button

Cheque/postal orders (£GB only) payable to “The Bath Novel Award” and sent to: The Bath Novel Award, PO Box 5223, Bath, BA1 0UR, England, UK

Then submit your novel by one of the two below options:
ONLINE: Email your novel extract (first 3,000 words maximum) and synopsis (one page) together in ONE attachment, preferably pdf or Word, to: quoting your novel’s title in the subject box. In the text of your email, please state your name, address, telephone number, novel title, genre, extract and full manuscript word counts, plus your method of entry fee payment. Please also mention if payment was made under a different name or on a different date. We acknowledge online entries by return email, usually within 24 hours.
POSTAL: Mail your novel extract (first 3,000 words maximum) and synopsis (one page) to: The Bath Novel Award, PO Box 5223, Bath, BA1 0UR, England, UK together with a covering page stating your name, address, telephone number, novel title, genre, extract and full manuscript word counts, plus your method of entry fee payment. Please enclose an SAE if you wish to receive a postal acknowledgement.

2015 Winner
LUCY VAN SMIT for HURTS SO GOOD (YA Psychological Thriller)

“With an incredibly strong voice and sustained suspense, HURTS SO GOOD is a YA thriller that had me at the edge of my seat from its arresting opening to the epic finale. Norwegian fjords, an abandoned wolf reservation, and dealing sensitively and powerfully with the darker side to religion and relationships – what’s not to love?” – 2015 Judge, Sallyanne Sweeney.

Lucy Van Smit: “I’ve always loved thrillers and wanted to write about a girl who must choose between the love of her life, and being able to live with herself. Entering the Bath Children’s Novel Award fired me up to finish my manuscript. I was in Kilarney, on the Robert McKee’s Story seminar, when I got long-listed, and had a week to send in the full manuscript. Each day, I studied ten hours with McKee, and edited through the night, finishing at 05.30 on the final Sunday, only to find the WiFi wouldn’t send the file! The shortlist knocked me out, especially as young, and adult, judges read your work. They characterised my story as ‘a daring, wolfish Nordic Noir.”

Lucy lives in London with her husband and teenage son. As a TV producer, she has made documentaries about writers including Ian McEwan and Martin Amis, but always had the feeling she was a writer too. After her 10+ novel, Invisible by Day, won the first SCWBI Slushpile Competition, Lucy took an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, where she began writing Hurts So Good. Lucy is now represented by 2015 judge, literary agentSallyanne Sweeney.

Read Lucy’s winner’s interview here.

Read the first chapter of Hurts So Good here in our special compilation post of 2015’s winning and shortlisted novels.

Left to right: Bath Children’s Novel Award 2015 Winner Lucy Van Smit; Bath Novel Award Founder Caroline Ambrose; 2015 Judge, Literary Agent Sallyanne Sweeney & Cornerstones Lit US’s Dionne McCulloch

2015 Runner Up

“Jake accidentally shrinks his mum and things go downhill from here, with hilarious consequences. 92-year-old Ernie is the neighbour everyone should have (particularly in a situation such as this), and I loved their dynamic. Laugh-out-loud funny, silly and with a fantastic voice. I think the author has serious potential as a comic writer for the middle-grade market. It stills makes me smile” – 2015 Judge, Sallyanne Sweeney.

Sharon Tandy: “Before I began THE MINIATURES, I had partially written an older, gritty story about children that could fly and wanted to migrate to foreign lands they’d heard about. But, as writing checklists always say, I decided to have a go at ‘write what you know’… and for me that’s making children giggle. Having two boys helped enormously. I feel The Miniatures is a story they can easily read and relate to. There are over-the-top antics, but also a core sense of ‘doing right’ with a little bit of mischievousness to boot.”

Sharon lives with her husband and two young sons in Kidderminster, where she has worked as assistant to the Mayor for the last eight years.

Read our interview with Sharon here

Read Sharon’s first chapter here in our special compilation post of 2015’s winning and shortlisted novels.


“This was a brilliantly gritty and tense YA novel and the characters were very strong. The suspense was well done and sustained throughout, and I loved the setting and premise. The writing is great and there is strong commercial potential here” – 2015 Judge, Sallyanne Sweeney.

Jane Brittan:“I studied English Literature badly many years ago and did a Masters in Creative Writing less badly in 2010. That’s what really got me back into writing stories. I started writing THE EDGE OF ME back in 2011 and the central character, Sanda, came to me as a voice in the middle of the night. Just a voice is all I had but it felt so real, so urgent, so believable that I had to let her live – to set her free. The Bosnian War happened when my sons were very little, and the reports of what was happening to ordinary people so shocked me. They stayed with me, and because I wanted to write a book that felt real, that came out of conflict and might resonate with young people, I knew it was right to go back there. As a writer, I’m drawn to cruelty, darkness and the ‘gothic’, but I like redemption and salvation too.”

Jane works with Animation and Illustration undergraduate students on storytelling. She has two grown up sons, a daughter and three stepsons and lives in North London. The Edge of Me is independently published byBlowfish Books and is currently nominated for a Carnegie Medal.

Read our interview with Jane here

Read Jane’s first chapter here in our special compilation post of 2015’s winning and shortlisted novels.


“This had a fantastic opening and the author did a brilliant job of establishing the tone, premise and relationships from the outset. I loved the dynamic between Jaya and her dad and the concept is really exciting. The writing was very filmic and atmospheric. This is an exciting and interesting YA author who I’m sure we’ll hear more about in the future” – 2015 Judge, Sallyanne Sweeney.

Sophie Cameron: “OUT OF THE BLUE was written earlier this year – though the idea first came to me in 2010, inspired by Barcelona street artists and Lynx’s ‘Angels Will Fall’ advert, amongst other things. In Out of the Blue, angels have started falling from the sky, each dying on impact and the world becomes obsessed with finding a living angel.”

Sophie is based in Edinburgh, where she works as a Marketing Officer for TRACS (Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland). She has a postgraduate certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University and was formerly a mentee on the WoMentoring project. Out of the Blue went on to be longlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award and a finalist in SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices 2016. Sophie has now signed with literary agent Hellie Ogden. Read our interview with Sophie here.

Read Sophie’s first chapter here in our special compilation post of 2015’s winning and shortlisted novels.


“I loved the Kenyan setting here and the premise to the novel was very exciting. Neema is a strong character who I think children will relate to and the author draws the reader immediately into her world. A very interesting and enjoyable read” – 2015 Judge, Sallyanne Sweeney.

RED GOD / BLACK GOD originated during a field trip to Kenya whilst Dorothy was studying for an MA in Writing for Children at the University of Central Lancashire. It tells the story of Neema, a fourteen-year-old Maasai girl who takes a stand against Maasai tradition.

Dorothy is a Literacy and Creative Writing tutor and freelance writer of children’s fiction and educational materials with many years experience of teaching English. Dorothy lives in the north east of England and has published her novel on Createspace.

Read Dorothy’s first chapter here in our special compilation post of 2015’s winning and shortlisted novels.

Read our interview with Dorothy here

Janine Beacham The Butlers of Silvercrest Hall
Lilian Butterwick A Silent World
Sarah Day I’ve Heard Stories
Mark Dlugash The Takeover
KF Goodacre The Elder Throne
Hayley Hoskins Finding Polly
Alex Ivey The Glass Hotel
Rob Keeley Childish Spirits
Olivia Kiernan Holly Stone: Into the Spider’s Web
Libby O’Loghlin Charlotte Aimes: The Great Alpine Adventure
Mandy Rabin The Girl Who Tangled Time
Honey Stavonhagen Hope Grayling the Blind Detective

The Bath Children’s Novel Award is sponsored byCornerstones Literary Consultancy

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