Novel Fair

The Irish Writers Centre The Irish Times Novel Fair 2019

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)

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 2019?

Novel Fair 2019 will be launched on Thursday 19 April, 2018 at 7pm at the Irish Writers Centre.

For more insights into this year's Fair, see our Twitter, or search #NovelFair2019. 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 19 April - Friday 28 September 2018.
  • Entry fee for applications is €50 for non-members and €40 for IWC members and is non-refundable.
  • Pay the entry fee for Novel Fair 2019 here.
  • 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 in February 2019.

Before entering the competition, please ensure that you have downloaded and correctly filled in the Novel Fair Application Form. You can download the Novel Fair 2019 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 the Novel Fair 2019 Terms and Conditions here.

Pay the entry fee for Novel Fair 2019 here

Novel Fair 2018

Last year twelve aspiring novelists were selected from almost 250 applicants to participate in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2018, an annual Irish Writers Centre initiative which took place on Saturday 17 February 2018.

The 2018 judging panel were writer and editor Anthony Glavin, writer and editor Nuala O’Connor and Senior Librarian, Dundrum Library, Mairead Brady.

Congratulations to the 2018 winners:
Caroline Bale
David Brennan
Niamh Donnelly
Aingeala Flannery
Martin Keating
Amanda Leahy
Guy Le Jeune
Joseph McDonnell
Sean McNulty
Adrienne Michel-Long
Susanne Stich
Bill Tinley

As always the 2018 finalists are skilled in many writing forms with a screenwriter, a journalist and broadcaster, a playwright and a musician in the mix. The finalists also include a Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award Winner and a Dalkey Creates Short Story Prize winner. And for some, this hasn’t been their first attempt at entering the Fair, their success indicating that determination and hard work pays off in the end. There is a diverse range of genres across the winning manuscripts including literary fiction, science fiction, crime, magical realism and a historical thriller.

The publishers and agents attending the 2018 Novel Fair were Author Rights Agency, The Book Bureau, Epoque Press, Feldstein Agency, Fletcher & CompanyHachette Ireland, Harper Collins Ireland, Jonathan Williams Literary Agency, LAW Literary Agency, Lilliput Press, Lisa Richards Agency, Marianne Gunne O’Connor Literary Agency, Mulcahy Associates, New Island Books, Penguin Ireland, Quercus and Transworld Ireland.

This is the fourth 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: 

  • Stephen Boland
  • Siobhan Daffy
  • Sinéad Ingoldsby 
  • Doireann Mangan
  • Mary McKeone
  • Victoria Melkovska
  • Fionn Murray
  • Michael O’Connor
  • Hugh Scanlan
  • Afric Walsh
  • Triona Walsh
  • Adriana K. Weinert

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 2019! 


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