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2024 Competition Rules and Conditions



  1. Entrants must be a minimum of 18 years old at time of entry.

  2. You may submit on any theme. Send us your courageous and innovative writing. 

  3. Closing date for entries is 10pm on 7th July 2024.

  4. For Fiction the maximum is 2500 words per story. For Poetry the maximum number of lines is 40 per poem. Please adhere to these limits. Entries exceeding the word limit will not be judged.

  5. A full list of the winners will be published on our website after the close of our annual festival.

  6. Entry is confirmation of your acceptance of all rules and conditions.

  7. The judges’ decisions are final.


Formatting - please read carefully and ensure you follow this guidance!

  1. Submissions must be written in English.

  2. Judging is anonymous. Please remove all identifying details such as name and email from your document and filename.

  3. Please format your document with 12-point font Arial or Times New Roman. For Fiction, please double-space your text.

  4. Double-check your document before uploading. Alterations after submission will not be possible.

  5. If uploading multiple entries, put them all into a single .docx file. Each entry starts on a new page with it’s own title (and see below on Entry Fees).

  6. We can only accept entries in MS-Word compatible formats, which is .docx and .rtf Please do not upload PDFs, Apple Pages or any other format. Unfortunately entries in other formats will not be judged.



  1. Submitted work must be wholly & entirely the work of the entrant, and the entrant must own the full publication rights to the entry.

  2. We aim to celebrate the creativity and talent of human writers and stories written with the support of generative AI will be disqualified.

  3. We are interested in discovering & amplifying new work, therefore stories/poems which have previously been published, or been awarded a prize, are ineligible for this contest.

  4. Simultaneous submissions are welcomed. If a piece you have submitted gets published or wins an award elsewhere, please email to let us know. Include “Withdrawal” in the subject line.

  5. Only entries submitted through the Hastings Book Festival website will be eligible. 

  6. Winning entrants agree to have their story published by Hastings Book Festival in electronic format. Hastings Book Festival holds publishing rights for six months, after which these rights revert to the author.


Entry Fees

  1. We offer a small number of free or reduced entry fee places (one submission per person) for UK-based writers who are struggling financially and would benefit from support to enable entry. If this applies to you, email with 'Competition' in the subject line and let us know your circumstances.

  2. Every entry must be accompanied by an entry fee.

  3. The standard entry fee is £8.25. A multi-entry discount applies if you wish to submit two (2) or three (3) pieces in the same contest at the same time. In this case, the fees will be £15 for two (2) entries and £21 for three (3).

  4. The maximum number of entries you can make in a single transaction is three, however you are welcome to submit more than this by filling in another entry form and going through the process again.

  5. To qualify for the multi-entry discount you must make all submissions within the same genre (ie 2-3 entries for Fiction or 2-3 entries for Poetry). These must be uploaded together in one .docx document, each entry beginning on a new page, formatted as outlined above.


Main Prize (all prizes will be announced during the Hastings Book Festival in September 2024)

  1. For our main prize entry is open to all, including non-UK based writers. There is no geographical restriction on entrants.

  2. The FICTION and POETRY contests will each be awarded a cash prize of £250 for first place, £100 for second place and £50 for third place, respectively.

  3. An overall Long List and Short List will also be announced ahead of our annual festival, exact date TBC.

New Writing South sponsored Sussex Prize 

  1. The New Writing South Sussex Prize is a collaboration between Hastings Book Festival and New Writing South. It’s purpose is to recognise & amplify outstanding work by authors living in our own back yard. All regular entries from writers living in either East or West Sussex are eligible for the prize. You will need to indicate (opt-in) at the time of entry that you are eligible for this prize. 

  2. There will be one prize for poetry and one for fiction. The winners of both the Fiction and Poetry Prize will both receive: 1-1 mentoring with a professional writer, a festival pass to The Coast is Queer 2024 and a free online course of their choice worth £75. (Options include Finishing the First Draft of Your Novel, Putting a Poetry Pamphlet Together, World-building and Writing Different Worlds and more.)

LGBT+ Prize sponsored by Starcroft Farm Cabins (new in 2024!)

  1. The Starcroft Farm Cabins competition is open to all regular entries for LGBT+ themed stories or poems from members of the LGBT+ community and who are based in the UK. You will need to indicate (opt-in) at the time of entry that you are eligible for this prize.

  2. There will be one (1) winner overall selected from all eligible entries from across both Fiction and Poetry contests.

  3. Final selection and awarding of the prize will be made by the judges.

  4. The Starcroft Farm Cabins Writers Retreat includes a three-day stay in the Lucy Cabin (design inspired by the Bloomsbury group) at Starcroft Farm Cabins in East Sussex. The retreat is self-directed and self-catering, and the award recipient will need to make their own way to and from the cabins in East Sussex. Further details, including arranging of dates and activities to be arranged with Starcroft Farm Cabins.


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