To celebrate the 120 years since Albert Curtis Brown founded his literary agency, and their authors past and present, Curtis Brown have just announced their inaugural Curtis Brown First Novel Prize. Tracy Chevalier, bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring and Single Thread, will chair a judging panel formed of Curtis Brown Agents and the Curtis Brown Creative Team.

The prize is open to manuscripts, both finished and unfinished, across all genres of adult fiction. Entry is FREE, but must be online. Authors must be 18 or over and not represented by an agent.

Applications are open until midday on August 1st of this year, but the summer will slip past, so you might want to concentrate your mind now. There is even sufficient time to pen the 10,000-words required for entry from scratch.

A shortlist of six will be chosen for consideration by the judging panel.

The author of the winning novel will be offered representation by Curtis Brown, plus a prize of £3,000. The first runner-up will receive a place on a three-month novel-writing course and a mentoring session with one of their literary agent team. A further four shortlisted entrants will be offered a place on a six-week online course with Curtis Brown Creative and a mentoring session with one of their agent team.

To enter, send the opening of your novel, (up to 10,000-words, including any prologue), together with a single page synopsis (up to 400 words).

If you are not already aware of it, Curtis Brown produce an excellent newsletter, packed with advice and information. Currently it concentrates on how to perfect your submission, from format to the opening; from the synopsis to the title. Worth subscribing to, even if you don’t intend to enter this particular competition.

I suspect more than one member of ninevoices will consider this too good an offer to refuse.

Details and rules are available on http://www.curtisbrowncreative.co.uk/first-novel-prize and should be checked before entry. For example, they will not accept a manuscript which has already won a prize.

Since Curtis Brown are anxious to publicise this great opportunity, I don’t imagine they’ll mind me lifting the quote from their announcement:

‘Every book starts with a first line, every career with a first moment of inspiration.’