First Drafts Competition 2018

For this special edition of Myriad’s annual award to launch unpublished writers, we are inviting submissions from women writers of African heritage or descent.

Deadline: Friday 6 July 2018
Longlist: Monday 3 September 2018
Shortlist: Monday 15 October 2018
Winner: November 2018

In celebration of Myriad’s forthcoming publication New Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby OBE, we are delighted to announce a special theme for the 2018 First Drafts Competition: we are inviting submissions in any genre from unpublished women writers who identify as being of African heritage or descent.

The winning entry will be published in this major new international anthology in 2019, alongside 200 notable writers including Malorie Blackman, Aminatta Forna, Warsan Shire and Zadie Smith.

This is an exceptional opportunity for the winner and finalists to bring their work to the notice of publishers and agents. This year’s judges include:

Margaret Busby OBE, writer and broadcaster
Elise Dillsworth, literary agent
Kelsi Farrington, New Internationalist
Vanessa La Rose, New Beacon Books
Martine McDonagh, novelist and West Dean College programme leader for Creative Writing

Entries must be:
• an excerpt or complete work (story or essay, for example) of fiction or narrative nonfiction, including memoir (all genres may be submitted)
• written in English (there is no UK residency requirement)
• not exceeding 5,000 words

See below for How to Enter and Conditions of Entry.

Now in its ninth year, First Drafts recognises promising works in progress from writers who have not yet published a collection of stories, novel or work of narrative nonfiction. First Drafts is a collaboration between Myriad and West Dean College. In addition to publication in New Daughters of Africa, the winner will be offered a week’s writing retreat at the college, a centre of creativity and tranquillity in West Sussex.

The 2017 winner was Sylvia Carr Clebsch for an extract from her novel, Safe. Other finalists were Ellen Hardy, Tony Leonard, Nikki Marmery, Laura Martz, Richard Phelps and Andrew Stewart.

First Drafts is central to Myriad’s mission to uncover and nurture new literary talent, and has a track record of launching writers who have gone on to achieve creative and commercial success. Five previous winners and finalists are published by Myriad: S.E. Craythorne, Lisa Cutts, Nina de la Mer, Sara Marshall-Ball and Hannah Vincent. Other success stories include Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, Kirsty Logan, Paul McVeigh, Vanessa Savage and Juliet West.


The 2018 First Drafts competition is open to all unpublished writers who identify as female and of African heritage.

Please send by post or email (to entries of up to 5,000 words of a work in progess (fiction, including short stories, or narrative nonfiction such as memoir) together with:

(a) a synopsis of your complete novel, nonfiction work or short story collection (b) a covering letter including your name, address, email address and contact number (c) a cheque for £10 (made payable to Myriad Editions) or a PayPal receipt (please pay via to:

First Drafts Competition
Myriad Editions, New Internationalist Publications, The Old Music Hall, 106-108 Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1JE

To submit via email:, submission payment can be made via PayPal via as per paper submission.

To ensure anonymous judging, please ensure that your name and contact details are included ONLY in your cover letter, and NOT on the pages of the work itself.

The closing date is Friday 6th July 2018. The shortlist will be announced in October and the winner in November 2018.

1. The competition is open to writers of any nationality over the age of 18 who identify as female and of African heritage or descent.
2. Only writers who have not published or self-published a book-length work of fiction or narrative nonfiction are eligible to enter.
3. Entries must be in English and no longer than 5,000 words.
4. An entry fee of £10 is required as a contribution towards administrative costs and travel expenses for the judging meetings. Entries that are not accompanied by the entry fee cannot be accepted.
5. Entries must be received by 12 noon GMT on Friday 6th July 2018. Entries received after the closing date will not be accepted.
6. Entrants are advised to retain a copy of their entries; submitted material will not be returned.
7. Entries must be double or 1.5 spaced (synopses may be single-spaced).
8. Please include the title and page numbers as headers or footers on every page; do not include your name on these pages but only on your covering letter (see above).
9. Only one entry per person is allowed.
10. The competition is not open to previous winners of the competition, nor to employees of Myriad Editions, New Internationalist Publications or West Dean College.
11. If an entry is shortlisted for another competition, the entrant must withdraw from First Drafts.
12. The judges’ decision is final and no discussion concerning the judges’ decision will be entered into.
13. The week-long writing retreat must be taken up within one year of the announcement of the winner, subject to availability, and arranged directly with West Dean College.
14. The prize cannot be exchanged.
15. The winner agrees to offer Myriad Editions first option to consider her finished work for publication.
16. The winner also agrees to work with Margaret Busby to edit her entry for inclusion in New Daughters of Africa.
17. Margaret Busby and Myriad reserve the right not to include an unsuitable entry in New Daughters of Africa.
18. Events may occur which render the awarding of the writing retreat and/or inclusion in the anthology impossible due to reasons beyond the control of the organisers. Myriad may at its absolute discretion vary, amend, suspend or withdraw the prize with or without notice.
19. Any enquiries relating to the competition should be emailed to
20. The winning entrant agrees to the use of her name and photograph in relation to publicity material. Personal details of entrants will only be retained and used by Myriad for the purposes of this competition and will not be shared with third parties.
21. Failure to meet the conditions of entry will result in disqualification from the competition.