Novel Fair

What is the Novel Fair?

Described by The Irish Times as a 'Dragon's Den for writers', the Novel Fair is an Irish Writers Centre initiative which aims to introduce up-and-coming writers to top publishers and literary agents, giving novelists the opportunity to bypass the slush pile, pitch their ideas and place their synopsis and sample chapters directly into the hands of publishers and agents.

Over the past few years a range of publishers and agents have attended the Fair including Penguin Random House Ireland, Hachette Ireland, Transworld Ireland, Curtis Brown, New Island Books, O’Brien Press/Brandon, Lilliput Press, Tramp Press, The Book Bureau, John Murray, Tinder Press, Marianne Gunn O’Connor Literary Agency, Jonathan Williams Literary Agency, Lisa Richards Agency, Feldstein Agency and Author Rights Agency as well as New York based agent Regal Hoffmann & Associates.

There have been a number of success stories since the Novel Fair has been established, such as:

  • Janet E. Cameron’s novel Cinnamon Toast (Hachette)
  • Niamh Boyce’s novel The Herbalist (Penguin Ireland) which was longlisted for IMPAC 2015
  • Beatsploitation by Kevin Curran (Liberties Press)
  • Here In No Place by Alan Timmons' (New Island)
  • The Reluctant Cannibal by Ian Flitcroft (Legend Press)
  • Daniel Seery’s novel A Model Partner (Liberties Press)
  • Susan Lanigan’s White Feathers (Brandon Press)
  • Eggshells by Caitriona Lally (Liberties Press) which won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature 2018
  • Andrea Carter's novel Death at Whitewater Church (Constable & Robinson)
  • Swimming on Dry Land by Helen Blackhurst (Seren)
  • Eat the Moon by Breda Joy (Poolbeg Press)
  • The Middle Place by Kealan Ryan (Mercier Press)
  • OONA by Alice Lyons (Lilliput Press, 2020)

Take a look at our video of Novel Fair 2015 to get a flavour for just how exciting this event can be!  

How can I enter Novel Fair 2020?

Novel Fair 2020 will be launched on Thursday 21 March, 2019 at 7pm at the Irish Writers Centre.

For more insights into this year's Fair, see our Twitter, or search #NovelFair2020. Or why not hear from a two-time Novel Fair winner about travelling all the way from Canada to participate? Mairéad Rooney gave us some inside tips in a recent blog.

Application Process

  • The submission period is Thursday 21 March - Friday 27 September 2019.
  • Entry fee for applications is €50.
  • There is no limitation on style, genre, or target market, the only requirement being that the writer has not published a novel before i.e. has not previously published a novel with an ISBN (see T&C's for more detailed information). 
  • Applicants are required to send a synopsis of a max. of 300 words and up to five chapters of their novel, which should be 10,000 words (+/- 10%).
  • Please send two copies of the manuscript and three copies of the synopsis. One copy of the synopsis should be attached to the application form which can be downloaded from our site, the other two should be attached to the copies of your manuscript.
  • All submissions should be posted or hand delivered to: Novel Fair Competition, Irish Writers Centre, 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, Ireland.
  • Entries must be accompanied by an application form.
  • There is a limit of one entry per applicant.
  • Entries are welcome from anywhere in the world, however, in order to be eligible, applicants must be available to attend the whole day of the Fair on 14 Feb 2020.

Before entering the competition, please ensure that you have downloaded and correctly filled in the Novel Fair Application Form. You can take a look the Novel Fair 2020's Application Form here.

Before entering the competition, please ensure that you have read the Novel Fair Terms and Conditions very carefully as the Fair is open to previously unpublished aspiring novelists only. You can download last year's Terms and Conditions here.

Novel Fair 2019

Last year twelve aspiring novelists were selected from almost 250 applicants to participate in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2019, an annual Irish Writers Centre initiative which took place on Friday 15 February 2019.

The 2019 judging panel were award-winning writer Catherine Dunne, writer and editor Anthony Glavin and journalist and author Anna Carey.

Congratulations to the 2019 winners:
Neil Sharpson
Sue Divin
Alice Lyons
Jim Lawlor
Dee Collins
Marianne Lee
Catherine Browne
James A. Simpson
Gráinne Murphy
Ronnie Trouton
Michelle Gallen
Jennifer Wilson O’Raghallaigh 

As always, the 2019 finalists are skilled in many writing forms with a poet, a playwright, a musician and a creative copywriter in the mix from around the island of Ireland.

The publishers and agents in attendance of Novel Fair 2019 include The Book Bureau, Blake Friedmann Agency, Epoque Press, The Feldstein Agency, Greene & Heaton, Harper Collins Ireland, John Murray, Lilliput Press, Lisa Richards Agency, Marianne Gunn O’Connor Literary Agency, Mulcahy Associates, New Island Books, Penguin Ireland, Susanna Lea Associates and Transworld/Doubleday Ireland.

This is the fifth year where a longlist of twelve applicants had their work critiqued, extending the prizes from 12 to 24 winners. The following names received individual critiques: 

Brendan Lyon 
Eamon Somers 
Timothy Stapleton 
Hilary Fennell 
Lani O'Hanlon 
Cassy Cochrane 
Eileen Gibbons 
Val Nolan 
Angela Keogh 
Phillip McGuinness 
Alison Wells 
Eva McGuire 

    We would like to thank each and every applicant for entering and we wish all aspiring novelists the very best in continuing their writing. 

    Good luck for 2020! 


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