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Chicken House extends major writing competition deadline

Article by writingie © 23 November 2017 Writing.ie .
Posted in the Magazine ( · News for Writers ).

As an early Christmas treat to aspiring writers and to celebrate its tenth year, Chicken House are extending the deadline for this year’s Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition to Wednesday 20th December 2017.

The annual competition – the UK’s most valuable for children’s writers – offers unpublished and unagented writers all over the world the chance to submit their work to Chicken House’s team of readers. One talented writer will win a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House with a royalty advance of £10,000. We are on the lookout for original ideas, a fresh voice and a story that children will love!

To enter, writers must have written a completed full-length novel suitable for children or young adults aged somewhere between 7 and 18 years. We ask that manuscripts are a minimum of 30,000 and maximum of 80,000 words in length. Entrants can submit either online or via post.

The competition has sparked the careers of many successful children’s authors, such as Sophia Bennett (author of eight children’s books, including her 2009 winning novel Threads), Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison (authors of Lobsters, shortlisted for the inaugural YA book prize and a 2013 competition shortlistee), and Anna Day (author of The Fandom, Chicken House’s fastest-ever-selling foreign rights title and a version of which was shortlisted for the 2014 competition).

Judges last year included Chicken House’s MD Barry Cunningham (known for discovering J.K. Rowling), Times Arts Editor Alex O’Connell, Waterstones children’s buyer Florentyna Martin, and children’s authors Kate Saunders and Katherine Woodfine.

‘Since 2014, we’ve had three books published, seen them translated into more than ten languages, and spoken at literary events from Hay-on-Wye to Utrecht, and it is basically all thanks to the Times/Chicken House competition.’ – Tom Ellen, co-author of Lobsters and Freshers.

‘Entering this competition is one of the best decisions I ever made. I was unpublished, unagented, unheard of, and now I’ve just sold my 25th licence … and I didn’t even win!’ – Anna Day, author of The Fandom.

Terms and Conditions


Because of the large numbers of entries and the subsequent rise in the costs of administration, an administration/entry fee is charged. The fee of £15.00 (incl. VAT) is payable via our online portal for electronic entries. A cheque for £15.00 (incl. VAT) must accompany each postal entry, made out to Chicken House Publishing Ltd. The fee is non-returnable and is a condition of entry. There is no alternative form of payment available. If your payment does not clear then the entry will automatically be disqualified.

1. The competition will run from 15 August 2017 to 8 December 2017.

2. Closing date: postal entries must be received by no later than the last mail delivery on 8 December 2017.

3. Unless otherwise stated, the competition is open to all entrants aged 18 or over, except employees of Times Newspapers Limited (‘TNL’), Chicken House Publishing Limited (‘Chicken House’) and their associated, affiliated or subsidiary companies, and their families, agents, or anyone connected in any way whatsoever with this competition.

4. Entry is limited to one per person. Entries must be either submitted online, or sent by post. Email submissions will be rejected. Postal entries must be marked ‘CHILDREN’S FICTION COMPETITION’ and sent to Chicken House, 2 Palmer Street, Frome, Somerset, BA11 1DS. Entries must be clearly labelled with the entrant’s full name and contact details (including a postal address, email and telephone number) and must be received by the deadline on 8 December 2017.

5. By entering, all eligible entrants agree to abide by each and all of these terms and conditions. The Promoters (as referred to in term 21 below) reserve the right, with or without cause, to exclude entrants and withhold prizes for violating any of these terms and conditions. The Promoters reserve the right to amend these terms and conditions. Any amendments will be published on the Chicken House Website (www.chickenhousebooks.com) and on The Times’ Website (http://thetimes.co.uk/competitions).

6. Submission Criteria
Entries must be the original work of the entrant and not previously commercially published and distributed (self-published works are allowed)The entrant must not be represented by a literary agent at any stage of the competition process, and must not previously have had commercially published any whole children’s novel in any country, but may have had published a children’s picture book/graphic novel, an essay, story or poem in an anthology. The entrant must personally submit the entry: any submissions from or found to be from agents will be void and rejected. Entries submitted in previous years are eligible to be resubmitted for this year (excluding any winning manuscripts). The entry must be a full-length manuscript of no more than 80,000 words, with a suggested minimum of 30,000 words. The entry should be suitable for a worldwide children’s audience aged between 7 and 18. Each entry must be accompanied by a brief synopsis and a letter of submission explaining the book’s appeal to children. (The synopsis should be no more than a page, and should give an overview of the complete story, including key characters, events and settings.)

Picture books and graphic novels will not be accepted and illustrations will not be considered. Entries must be written in English, typed (in a plain font, with a minimum 12pt font size), double-line spaced, with numbered pages. Entries that do not meet these criteria will not be read.

Postal entries should be secured using elastic bands and placed in a cardboard folder (not a ring-binder or lever-arch file). The entrant must retain their own copy as no entries will be returned. Entries will be acknowledged only if accompanied by a self-addressed postcard, with sufficient postage, placed at the front of the cardboard folder. If entrants who have included a postcard have not received confirmation of receipt 28 days after submission, they should assume their entry has not been received. Entrants in this position may resubmit their manuscript with proof of prior entry postage. There will be no feedback on any entries except those longlisted or shortlisted, either during or after the competition.

7. There will be one prize winner. Subject to submission of a suitable creditworthy entry (as referred to below), the prize is the offer of a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House (which shall be subject to negotiation and completion between Chicken House and the winner. If the negotiations between the parties fail, then the winner will receive the alternative prize set out below). The winner will be the entrant whose story, in the opinion of the judges, demonstrates the greatest entertainment value, quality, originality and suitability for children aged 7-18. However, in the event that the judges, in their sole opinion, determine that none of the entries are suitably creditworthy for a worldwide publishing contract the Promoters shall nonetheless select the best entry in accordance with these terms and conditions and award an alternative prize; namely, a full and detailed editorial consultation with Barry Cunningham and the Chicken House editorial team, including creative and technical advice on their entry.

8. Entrants retain all rights to their entries, except in the case of the winner to whom a publishing contract will be offered (as referred to in term 7 above). The winner will retain the copyright to the work and shall exclusively license worldwide publishing rights of the entry to Chicken House Publishing Limited on completion of the publishing contract. The publishing contract with the winner will be in line with industry standards for a debut children’s novel with a Royalty Advance of £10,000 from Chicken House and will include full volume rights including Film & TV. The winner will also receive an offer of representation from a leading literary agent.

9. Selection Criteria
All valid entries received before the closing date will be read by a Chicken House editorially managed team of experienced freelance readers who will select a longlist of approximately 20 entries based on the judging criteria set out in Clause 7. The longlisted entrants’ names and general locations will be published in April 2018 on the Chicken House Website www.chickenhousebooks.com. Each of the longlisted entrants will be notified and will receive a reader’s report giving editorial advice. A final shortlist of five entries will be selected by Barry Cunningham (Publisher & MD of Chicken House) based on the judging criteria set out in Clause 7. The shortlist will be announced online by Chicken House and The Times in May 2018. The judges will choose a winner from this shortlist, to be announced in June 2018. The 5 shortlisted entrants shall be notified and shall receive details of the proposed publishing contract with Chicken House. If any such entrant decides to withdraw from the competition at this stage he/she shall notify Chicken House in writing to the address specified in term 21 within 10 business days of receipt of details of the proposed publishing contract. Subject to the foregoing provisions of this term all 5 entries will then be read by the judges and a winner selected based on the judging criteria in Clause 7. Notwithstanding the foregoing, and for the avoidance of doubt, there will be at least one independent judge involved in the judging processes.

10. The winner agrees to an interview which may be published by TNL in any of their publications including, but not limited to, The Times or The Sunday Times, and/or their digital publications and either of their Websites.

11. TNL reserves the right to publish segments/parts/extracts of all longlisted and shortlisted entries (up to 500 words) in The Times, The Sunday Times, on its Websites, and such publication does not necessarily mean that the entrant has won a prize. TNL reserves the right to edit entries in its discretion for such publication. Entrants will retain copyright of their submitted entries; however, by entering, all entrants give TNL a worldwide royalty free perpetual licence to edit, publish and use segments/extracts of each entry in any and all media (including print and online) for publicity and news purposes. In particular, all entrants license TNL the right to print their entry on either of the Times or Sunday Times Websites and in The Times or The Sunday Times or any of their supplements.

12. The winner will be notified by the end of June, 2018. All reasonable endeavours will be made to contact the winner before this date. If the winner cannot be contacted or is not available, the Promoters reserve the right to select another winner from entries which were received before the closing date.

13. There is no cash or other alternative to the prize stated. The prize is not transferable and no part or parts of the prize may be substituted for other benefits, items or additions.

14. For the avoidance of doubt, entrants and the winner will be solely responsible for the payment of all taxes and other amounts due on the sums payable hereunder.  Entrants and the winner agree to indemnify TNL and Chicken House and keep them indemnified in respect of all claims which may be made against them in respect of such taxes or other amounts (including any penalties and interest), together with any costs and expenses incurred by TNL and/or Chicken House in connection therewith.

15. The judges’ decision is final and binding on the entrants. No correspondence will be entered into.

16. The Promoters will not be liable for any failure of receipt of entries. Proof of posting cannot be accepted as proof of delivery. If entrants who have included postcards have not received confirmation of receipt 28 days after submission, they should assume their entry has not been received. Entrants in this position may resubmit their manuscript with proof of prior entry postage. The Promoters take no responsibility for any entries which are lost, delayed, illegible, damaged, incomplete or otherwise invalid. Other than death or personal injury arising from the acts or omissions of the Promoters, or their employees, the Promoters will not be liable for any loss or damage arising out of the winner’s receipt of the prize.

17. By entering, the entrants, including the winner, agree to allow the free use of their names, photographs and general locations for publicity and news purposes during this and any future promotion by TNL or any associated or subsidiary company of News International Limited.

18. Uses of personal data received by TNL and/or Chicken House in the course of the competition are subject to current UK data protection legislation and the privacy policies found on the Times Online Website and the Chicken House Website. The winner’s name may be published on such websites.

19. Submission of an entry will be deemed acceptance of these terms and conditions.

20. The Promoters reserve the right at any time to cancel, modify or supersede the competition (including altering the prize or these terms and conditions) if, in their sole discretion, the competition is not capable of being conducted as specified. The Promoters reserve, in their absolute discretion, the right to substitute a prize of equal value in the event that circumstances beyond their control make this unavoidable.

21. The Promoters of this competition are Times Newspapers Limited (address below) and Chicken House Publishing Limited of 2 Palmer Street, Frome, Somerset, BA11 1DS.

22. For details of the winner, please send a stamped envelope to Times Newspapers Limited Competitions Department, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF, after 1 July 2018 stating that you wish to receive winner’s details for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition.

23. Terms and Conditions printed in The Times/The Sunday Times newspaper or on The Times or The Sunday Times Websites form a part of these terms and conditions. In the event of a conflict of terms these terms and conditions shall prevail.

24. The competition is governed by English law and any dispute is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

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