COMPETITIONS Guppy Open Submission


The Guppy Open Submission is back — and this year it’s the turn of middle grade authors. Deputy editor Françoise Price reports.


Do you have a middle grade novel ready to go? Are you unpublished and unagented? Guppy Books is running its second Open Submission for middle grade authors from 12th-16th June 2023 in its latest search for new writing talent in the world of children’s books. Authors are being invited to submit their stories for readers aged 6 and above.


A panel of judges from the industry will choose a shortlist which will be announced in the Autumn, and the successful author will be offered a publishing contract with Guppy Books.


The inaugural Guppy Books Open Submission winner for Young Adult was Nadia Mikail, whose chosen novel, The Cats We Meet Along the Way, published by Guppy Books, was recently named as the overall winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2023. 

The Billow Maiden, by James Dixon, was chosen as winner for the first Middle Grade Open Submission in 2021 and published to critical acclaim last summer. Says James: “I entered the Guppy Open Submissions hoping to be shortlisted, to be given a one-to-one with Bella Pearson (Guppy Books founder). Winning was something else! Working with Guppy has been an absolute joy at every step of the journey.”
2022’s winner, Olivia Collard’s YA novel Apocalypse Cow, will be published by Guppy in spring 2024 — but not before a runner-up in the 2021 competition, Carrie Sellon's* book Pizza Pete and the Perilous Potions, is published in June this year, also by Guppy.


After this year’s winner is announced, all shortlisted authors are invited to an editorial meeting with Bella Pearson. “I have always wanted Guppy to be open to unagented and unpublished authors but it can be difficult to manage the sheer number of submissions on a day-to-day basis. What this competition does is give an opportunity for writers to submit in a fair and open way, and demonstrates what an extraordinary wealth of talent there is that doesn’t necessarily come via the traditional route of agent or writing course. We have now taken on four hugely talented new authors as a result of this process, and I’m so excited to discover who will be the winner of this year’s competition!” Bella says.

Bella Pearson, founder of Guppy Books
[Picture credit: Ian Wallman]

Guppy Books was launched in 2019, and since then has seen numerous titles shortlisted for the key children’s book prizes including the Costa Book Award, the Branford Boase, the Yoto Carnegie Medal as well as winning the Waterstones Older Readers and Overall Children’s Book Prize in 2023. The Guppy list now comprises of over 30 books, which have all individually garnered acclaim across the board and includes authors such as Lisa Williamson, Sharon Creech, Kenneth Oppel, Jaclyn Moriarty, Julian Sedgwick and Louisa Reid.


More information, including how to submit, can be found at


* Read more about Carrie Sellon in this month's Debut Journeys.

*Header image: Guppy Books logo; all images courtesy of Guppy Books.

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