Now the biggest children’s writing competition in the UK, the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition has been running for 12 years and has kickstarted the careers of many of the most established writers for both children and adults in the UK – including Jasbinder Bilan (Costa-winning author of Asha & the Spirit Bird), S.J. Bennett (The Windsor Knot) and Nicki Thornton (The Last Chance Hotel series). Since the competition’s inception, 62% of shortlistees have gone on to be published, including winners.

The competition is open to unpublished, unagented writers based anywhere in the world. Entries that aimed at readers from age 7 all the way up to age 18 (Young Adult) are accepted.

The top prize is a publishing contract with Chicken House with an advance of £10,000, plus the offer of representation from literary agent Louise Lamont at LBA Books, who will also be on this year’s judging panel. A second prize, the Chairman’s Choice Award – awarded to the manuscript which shows the most potential – will win a £7,500 publishing contract plus an offer of representation.

Last year’s winner was Emily Randall and her novel The Flood Child¸ which also previously won the Mslexia Prize. A second prize in conjunction with the Institute of Engineering and Technology – the IET 150 Award – was awarded to Alison Stegert’s The Remarkables. Both novels will be published by Chicken House in 2023.

Barry Cunningham said: ‘I’m thrilled with how this special competition just grows and grows, welcoming new talent from around the world – and how it always manages to surprise and amaze the judges with fresh new writing!’

Patrice Lawrence said: ‘I’m lucky enough to meet many emerging writers with unique and compelling stories to tell. I hope that they will submit their work, because I am so excited to read it.’

This year’s competition will be judged by a panel of industry experts, including Chicken House Publisher Barry Cunningham, the Times Arts Editor Alex O’Connell, YA Book Prize-winning author Patrice Lawrence, Waterstones Children’s Buyer Florentyna Martin, author and booktuber Lucy Powrie, LBA Books literary agent Louise Lamont, bookseller Sanchita Basu de Sarkar from Children’s Bookshop Muswell Hill, and literary scout Rosalind Ramsay.

The competition costs £20 to enter and is open to writers from all over the world, as long as they write in English, are unagented and have not had a children’s book published before. For more details on the competition and instructions on how to enter, please visit the Chicken House website.

Deadline for entries, midnight on 1st June 2022.