Rules and Entry Requirements


a) The Desmond Elliott Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards for debut writers in the UK and Ireland, is worth £10,000 to the winner. The Prize is awarded by a panel of judges appointed each year by the Trustees of the Desmond Elliott Charitable Trust.

b) The Prize is awarded annually for the best first full-length work of fiction written in English and published in book form in the UK, written by an author whose permanent place of residence is in the UK or Ireland.

c) The winner of the Prize will be selected from a longlist of ten titles, followed by a shortlist of three outstanding books submitted for the prize. For inclusion in this shortlist, a novel must have the full support of at least one judge in whose opinion it is a valid contender for the Prize.



a) Any eligible book which is entered for the Prize will only qualify for the award if its publisher endorses its submission and it satisfies the conditions set out in the rules.

b) The winning author agrees to put the prize money towards furthering their writing career.

c) Each shortlisted author must be available to attend the Prize ceremony.

d) The Trustees reserve the right to vary the Rules and Conditions of Entry and may also alter the published programme without prior notice as necessary.



a) United Kingdom and Ireland publishers may enter up to two full-length first novels per imprint, with scheduled publication dates between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

b) Entry forms must be submitted by 30 November 2018. At that date all available books should be submitted to the Prize’s Literary Director. One copy or bound proof of each entry must be submitted.

c) The Literary Director may also, no later than 1 February 2019, call in any non-submitted eligible novel scheduled for publication between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019. In that event, the publisher will be asked to submit one printed copy of the book to the Literary Director.

d) No book entered by publishers or called in by the judges will be returned to the publishers.

e) E-book submissions will be considered but should come from an established imprint and on condition that three copies are downloaded and printed for the judges’ consideration.



a) Any full-length first novel, as verified by the publisher, is eligible. Such a book must be a unified and substantial work. Neither a book of short stories nor a novella is eligible.

b) If a first novel has ordinarily been published outside the entry dates in a small/limited edition not available to a wide audience, and subsequently re-published by an established imprint in a larger edition between the specified publication dates, it may be considered for entry. The Trustees shall have sole discretion as to whether or not such a re-published novel is eligible for entry for the Prize and the Trustees’ decision shall be final.

c) Authors must be living at the time of submission.

d) Only books written and published originally in English are eligible.

e) Neither self-published authors nor books from companies or imprints – created to self-publish – are/is eligible.

f) In the event that an E-book is longlisted, the publisher must undertake to publish it in hardback or paperback format.

g) Children’s/crossover books will only be accepted on condition that they have also been published by an adult imprint within the specified dates.

h) All entries must be published in the UK between the required dates (Rule 3a) but previous publication of a book outside the UK does not disqualify it provided the author is a permanent resident in the UK or Ireland.

i) The decision of the Trustees as to whether any novel is eligible for entry shall be binding.

j) No entry shall be ineligible because its author has won any other prize recently.

k) All submissions are made on a confidential basis.



a) As the Desmond Elliott Prize organises and pays for significant promotions with retailers, the publishers of the shortlisted titles are required to use all reasonable endeavours to keep their titles in print and in stock during the period in which these titles have been selected and are being promoted – 7th May through to the end of June.

b) b) The publisher of the winning book is required to use all reasonable endeavours to keep their title in print and in stock during the period covering the announcement of the winner, 17th June, through to the end of August, which covers the retailers’ summer reading promotions.

c) The publishers of the winning novel and of each shortlisted title are required to use all reasonable endeavours to offer the book trade additional discount with which retailers can price promote.

d) Longlisted and shortlisted authors should be prepared to undertake media interviews and contribute to the Desmond Elliott Prize website as required and, wherever possible, make reference to the Prize on their own websites/blogs; in media interviews and publicity tours.

e) A longlist of ten titles will be announced in April 2019. At this stage, the publisher of each longlisted title must supply an additional 12 copies of each book to Riot Communications.

f) A shortlist of three titles will be announced in May 2019. At this stage, the publisher of each chosen title must supply an additional 17 copies of each book to Riot Communications.

g) The winner will be announced in June 2019. At this stage, the publisher of the winning title must supply an additional five copies of the book to Riot Communications.

Download the rules and entry requirements here.