Searchlight Writing for Children Awards 2024

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Olivia Hope

Competition deadline: 1st September 2024

Searchlight Awards is an international competition for aspiring authors writing for children or young adults. Our aim is to create opportunities for emerging authors of children’s fiction to be recognised.

There are two competition categories: Best Children’s Picture Book Text, Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults. Winners will be chosen by Lorna Hemingway of Bell Lomax Moreton and Rachel Petty of The Blair Partnership.

How to Enter

Picture books must be suitable to read aloud to a young child. Submit the full manuscript. No illustrations please. Maximum 1000 words. For the Novel Opening competition, entries are invited for the first 1,200 words of a longer novel for children or young adults aged eight to eighteen. You don’t need to have finished writing your manuscript to enter. 

Entry fee: £12 − picture book, £16 − novel opening. Enter via our website. www.searchlightawards.co.uk

Prizes

searchlight

The top 10 stories in both categories will feature in an agent/publisher pitch book and be sent to numerous literary agents/publishers who have requested it. Second prize: manuscript feedback from celebrated author and creative writing tutor Steve Voake or expert picture book editor Natascha Biebow of Blue Elephant Storyshaping. First prize: a one-to-one call with the agent judge plus £500 – picture book, £1000 – novel opening.

Terms and Conditions for the Best Children’s Picture Book Text competition

  • Your story must be suitable for a young child.
  • Your picture book text and illustration notes together should be no more than 1000 words. Pitch: maximum 125 words.
  • Text only. No artwork.
  • Your story should be double-spaced, a size 12 font, and submitted as a doc, docx or PDF file.
  • Begin your story with the title. Please don’t include any other identifying information on the file, such as your name, as stories are read blind.
  • Entries need to be in English.
  • Multiple entries are permitted. However, we require a separate entry form and a new payment each time.
  • Stories cannot be altered after they are submitted. Refunds are not given if a story is withdrawn.
  • Entrants must be 16 years and over.
  • Entrants cannot be agented or traditionally published. Your story must not be under contract for future publication at the time the results are announced, and must be withdrawn from the competition if you sign a contract with an agent or publisher after entering. Refunds are not given. Self-published stories are eligible.
  • Stories that have been previously longlisted or shortlisted by Searchlight Awards cannot be entered again.
  • Entries from authors worldwide are welcome.
  • Entries must be the work of the entrant.
  • AI generated entries are not eligible.
  • While entrants retain full copyright, by entering the Best Children’s Picture Book Text 2024 competition you give permission, if shortlisted, for us to publish your name, photograph, biography and a short extract of your story on the Searchlight Awards’ website.
  • By entering the Best Children’s Picture Book Text 2024 competition you give permission, if shortlisted, for us to include your story in Searchlight’s Pitch Book of winning stories, which will be sent to UK literary agents and publishers. If you do not wish to have your story promoted to agents/publishers you may opt out on the entry form.
  • The decision of the readers and judges is final. No correspondence will be entered into regarding judging. We are unable to provide individual feedback.
  • The competition organisers have the right to change the judge.
  • The 2nd place editorial prize must be taken immediately after the results are announced. There is no cash alternative to this prize.
  • Results will be posted on the Searchlight Awards’ website and winners will be emailed on 7th February 2025.
  • By entering the Best Children’s Picture Book Text 2024 competition, entrants agree to these rules.

Terms and Conditions for the Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults competition

  • Your story must be suitable for a reader aged between eight and eighteen.
  • Your novel opening should be a maximum of 1,200 words and your pitch should be no more than 175 words.
  • Your story should be double-spaced, a size 12 font, and submitted as a doc, docx or PDF file.
  • Begin your story with the title. Please don’t include any other identifying information on the file, such as your name, as stories are read blind.
  • Entries need to be in English.
  • Multiple entries are permitted. However, we require a separate entry form and a new payment each time.
  • Stories cannot be altered after they are submitted. Refunds are not given if a story is withdrawn.
  • Entrants must be 16 years and over.
  • Entrants cannot be agented or traditionally published. Your story must not be under contract for future publication at the time the results are announced, and must be withdrawn from the competition if you sign a contract with an agent or publisher after entering. Refunds are not given. Self-published stories are eligible.
  • Stories that have been previously longlisted or shortlisted by Searchlight Awards cannot be entered again.
  • Entries from authors worldwide are welcome.
  • Entries must be the work of the entrant.
  • AI generated entries are not eligible.
  • While entrants retain full copyright, by entering the Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults 2024 competition you give permission, if shortlisted, for us to publish your name, photograph, biography and a short extract of your story on the Searchlight Awards’ website.
  • By entering the Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults 2024 competition you give permission, if shortlisted, for us to include your story in Searchlight’s Pitch Book of winning stories, which will be sent to UK literary agents and publishers. If you do not wish to have your story promoted to agents/publishers you may opt out on the entry form.
  • The decision of the readers and judges is final. No correspondence will be entered into regarding judging. We are unable to provide individual feedback.
  • The competition organisers have the right to change the judge.
  • The 2nd place editorial prize must be taken within three months of the results being announced. There is no cash alternative to this prize.
  • Results will be posted on the Searchlight Awards’ website and winners will be emailed on 7th February 2025.
  • By entering the Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults 2024 competition, entrants agree to these rules.

See www.searchlightawards.co.uk for further information.

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