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Our advice and Frequently Asked Questions are divided into subject areas so that you can browse them to find the information that you need. If your question isn’t answered here, please contact us.

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What kind of writer do I need to be to enter?

Please read the Eligibility and Conditions of entry for the awards that interest you.

Where do I have to live to enter?

Writers must be based in the North of England. The North of England is defined as the areas covered by Arts Council England in Yorkshire, North East and North West.

Can I apply for an award if I am a previous winner of a Northern Writers’ Awards?

Yes, if you meet all the necessary eligibility criteria. You cannot apply for the same project you were previously awarded for, however.

How old do I need to be to enter for an award?

You must be over 18 years of age to enter for most of our awards. The Cuckoo and Matthew Hale awards are for writers aged 12 to 18 years of age. However, some of our awards have specific age restrictions – please check the individual information on each award before entering.

Are the awards only for younger or new writers?

No. We are interested in supporting talented writers, whatever age they are. We understand that the work of talented writers comes to fruition at different times for different people. When we refer to ‘emerging’ or ‘new’ writers, we are not making any assumptions about the age at which writers reach or arrive at these stages. Some of our awards have specific age criteria that is clearly stated in the information about those awards.

Do I have to have a track record to enter the Writing for Television Award? No, we are interested in identifying new writers and welcome entries by people who are new to writing as well as those with more experience of writing but who are not yet produced.

How do you define new, emerging and published writers?

By ‘published’ writers, we mean writers with a track record of publication, as in novels and collections of poetry published by recognised publishers. Writers whose work has appeared in magazines and anthologies and who are pursuing full publication of a longer piece of work we define as ‘emerging’ writers. Writers who are new to writing and who have not yet published their work, we define as ‘new’ writers.

Which award should I enter for?

Browse the awards that we offer and identify the particular award that best reflects both your aspirations and your current needs as a writer. Most of the awards require you to have a current work in progress, although the Northern Book Prize is for a completed, unpublished work.

Can I enter a self-published book or e-book?

No. The awards are aimed at supporting new work and work in progress, so work that has been previously published as a book or e-book is not eligible.

Can I enter a children’s picture book or a graphic novel? Yes, if you would like to enter a graphic novel or picture book either as the writer/graphic artist please do so through the applications portal. Please note that if you are entering for this award you must be entering work that is graphic as well as written, as we cannot accept just the written element of a project for the awards.

What is creative non-fiction?

There is no universally agreed definition of creative non-fiction. Creative non-fiction has stylistic and structural similarities to fiction but deals instead with factual or mostly factual subject matter. For the Northern Writers’ Awards, our definition of the work that fits in this category includes biography, memoir, nature writing and non-fiction with a strong literary intent.

Can I enter if I already have an agent?

Yes. It’s useful for us to know if you already have an agent representing your work. Please only mention having an agent if you have actually signed a representation agreement with an agency.

Can I enter if I already have a book deal?

As the awards exist to support work in progress you cannot enter work that is completed and for which a publishing deal is secured. If you have a book deal in place you could enter new work from your next project for an award. We define a book deal as being a contract with a publisher that involves you being paid an advance for your writing and a royalty on book sales.

Poets may enter work in progress from a collection as long as it is not yet completed and signed up to a publication schedule with a publisher.

You can enter for the Northumbria University Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards if you have a book deal.

Advice, Guidance and Information

How advanced does my work need to be to enter?

Poetry and prose: Competition is high for the awards so please ensure that your work is of the highest possible standard before entering it. We would not expect writers to enter the first drafts of their work, or to enter work that had not been adequately spell-checked or proofread. We don’t expect that everyone who enters will have completed a full first draft of a novel or poetry collection but we would expect entrants to be well on the way to doing so. If you win an award we would hope that within 12 months of winning you would have completed your work.

Writing for television awards: You do not need to have written anything prior to entering for these awards.

What is a synopsis and how do I write one?

A good synopsis will help the awards judges to understand the intention and purpose of your work in more detail. The synopsis should give a clear picture of your project and describe its genre, tone, content and style. It needs to tell the reader who you think the audience will be for your book. If you are writing for children you should specify what age group your work is aimed at. A synopsis is not a teaser or a blurb or a pitch. Your synopsis should give detailed plot points for your story and describe the ending.

How should I format my manuscript?

Please format your work as double-spaced for prose and single-spaced for poetry, 12 point text.. You’re free to choose a font that appeals to you but avoid anything that doesn’t suit the tone of your work. Please be sure to leave your name off the extract.

Should my entry be anonymous?

You will need to include your name when you register but please leave it off your application questions and don’t include it on any part of your submission, such as the title page or as a header or footer. At the initial stages of the process the entries are judged entirely anonymously, which is an important part of ensuring the judging process is fair and even.

Can I include some previously published poems/short stories in my submission?

Yes, if you’ve published a few stories or poems in magazine and anthologies these can be included as part of your entry. Please be sure to add an acknowledgement to each so we can see where they’ve appeared previously. Remember that we are judging the full-length work – your collection of stories or poetry – and it is this as a whole that must be previously unpublished.

What constitutes a synopsis for a collection of poetry or short stories?

The synopsis should demonstrate the unifying theme or subject of your work. You may wish to explain how you envisage the collection being structured, which could be through chronology, theme or tone.

What should I say in my biography?

Your biography should detail your writing experience to date and any successes that you have had. Please detail any published/produced work and note whether your work has been published in magazines or online. You might also like to say a little about when you started to write, how long you have been writing and how long you have been working on this current project. We do not require a detailed life story, or a list of all your educational qualifications.

What should I say in my application?

Poetry and prose awards: The awards are very competitive and often the judges are looking at why one writer should receive support over another writer whose work is of a similar quality. A well-written personal statement can help tremendously in this instance. Your statement should detail why receiving an award or support is essential to you at this point in time. Your statement should not go into too much personal detail about your circumstances but should give the reader information that will help them to see how our support could be of benefit to you over the next year.

Writing for television awards: As above, but also please outline why you want to write for television specifically. You may want to include the types of programmes you enjoy and tell us what you would want to get out this award if you won.

Do all the awards include a cash element?

All of the awards have a cash value and many include a cash award. Please read the specific descriptions of each award to see in detail how they work. Please note that the Northumbria University Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards are bursary-based awards. The winners of these awards will receive bursaries to cover the cost of them participating in developmental projects.

Do any of the award winners receive mentoring?

The Word Factory Apprentice Award includes a sustained period of mentoring. Northumbria University Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards) include mentoring as part of the package of developmental opportunities that the winners receive. Please read the information sheets on each award for further info. Award winners discuss their work with New Writing North staff upon winning an award. At this meeting we will try and identify the best way for us to support the development of your work. Some writers use part of their awards cash prize to fund mentoring programmes, supported by New Writing North. We can advise on how to find a mentor and help to structure and deliver a mentoring programme.

What if I win but cannot come to the awards ceremony?

The awards ceremony is a very important event in the programme and our main focus for promoting the awards. It’s very important to us that the winners attend. We do reserve the right to withdraw an award if the author is not available to come to the event and this is part of our Conditions of Entry.

Can I apply for money for a project?

No. We do not fund residencies, touring work or literary projects. If you are looking for support for a literary project the first port of call should be the Grants for the Arts programme at Arts Council England.

Can I use my award money to buy equipment?

We would rather writers used awards funding to support their time to write through buying time off from work commitments, child care or to fund creative retreats. Please do not make explicit asks for technical equipment in your submission as this will weaken your application.

I’m entering the award for serial drama. Does my sample script have to be for a Hollyoaks scene?

Your script does not necessarily have to be connected to Hollyoaks or the storyline you are submitting. You should enter what you feel best represents your voice as a writer and showcases your use of dialogue.

Who gets invitations to the London agents and publishers networking event and what does it involve?

Each summer, following the announcement of the awards in Newcastle upon Tyne, we host a party in London for literary agents and publishers. Prior to attending this event writers are asked to attend a pitching workshop where they will be coached in how to present the work in a professional context. Not every writer who receives an award is automatically invited to this event. We reserve the right to only invite writers who we feel have work that is ready to be considered for publication. Sometimes we may ask you to develop your work and perhaps attend the event the following year, or we may work with you to identify an agent or publisher outside of this event.

What is the pitching workshop?

The pitching workshop is designed to help writers to understand how to present their work in a professional context and to overcome any fears about how to network successfully. At the workshop you will be taken through practical exercises with regard to your work and how to describe it. You will also get the chance to pitch your work to New Writing North staff and receive feedback and support.

Many writers are initially horrified by the idea of pitching workshops and networking events but afterwards appreciate the value of attending both. We have run these events for a number of years now and industry feedback tells us that agents notice how well prepared our writers are at events.

How can I protect my intellectual property when making a submission?

By submitting work for an award you are agreeing to it being read by awards sifters, judges and staff at New Writing North. The copyright of your work stays with you at all times and New Writing North does not exert or ask for any rights over your work at any point in the process.

Why do you only accept submissions online?

Due to the amount of submissions we receive, it is more manageable to accept digital applications. We use an online portal called Submittable which is an external company that many other organisations use. If you have submitted to any other competition that uses Submittable, you may already have an account. We advise you to submit via a computer rather than a mobile device, but if that isn’t an option for you we recommend using the Submittable app.

Data privacy

Why do you ask for personal information?

Each year we produce de-personalised statistical information on entrants for the awards, which we report to Arts Council England, our funders. We look at entries by gender, ethnicity, geography and age. Undertaking this work helps us to see if we need to work harder to attract entries from any underrepresented groups or locations. No personal data is included in the reporting or used in any other way during this process.

What will you do with my data and work?

Your submission entry will be digitally deleted once the awards have been judged. You will only receive future correspondence from New Writing North if you have specifically signed up to receive our email newsletters as part of the submission process. This is not mandatory and once you have signed up you can unsubscribe at any time. We do not share your data or personal information with any other businesses or organisations and we abide by all data protection legislation.


Do you have an equality statement?

New Writing North has a Single Equality Scheme statement that underpins all of our activities and which is reviewed annually by our board of trustees. If you wish to obtain a copy of it, please contact

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