Your own story

In your own words

We all have a story to tell about ourselves, the good, the bad and the how did I end up there? Celebrate a snapshot of your life, a fragment in time or rear view mirror look at what was and now is.

We initially need 5,000 to 8,000 words plus a 300 word overview. If you’re long listed we’ll ask for a total of 15,000 words, including your original word count. Shortlisted? Then we need a total 30,000 words, again including your original entry and long listed word count.

It’s your moment of truth.

Our next memoir competition launches 15 June 2024, deadline 30 September 2024. Good luck!

Write what you know is great advice, what better than by writing a memoir. Don’t think you’re too ordinary – there are no ordinary lives – and don’t think you’re too inexperienced. Write from the heart and tell me who you are. I can’t wait to read.

Kit de Waal, best selling author of Without Warning & Only Sometimes and our memoir judge.
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First prize: £1,500

You will receive a year’s mentoring from The Literary Consultancy through their Chapter & Verse scheme. You’ll also have the chance to consult with A.M. Heath, a leading London literary agency, plus get valuable advice from an editor at John Murray, part of Hachette publishers. You have the option of a discussion with the University of Exeter’s Creative Writing Department. In addition, the opening chapter/s of your memoir will be published on our website. Finally, we will always champion you as part of our Bridport Prize family.

Runner up
£750

Your full manuscript will be assessed by The Literary Consultancy with invaluable editorial feedback. You’ll be offered the option of a discussion with the University of Exeter’s Creative Writing Department. Your memoir’s opening chapter/s will also be published on our website. And, you’ll always be part of the Bridport Prize family.

Highly Commended
£150 x 3 awards

You’ll receive a 15,000 word manuscript appraisal from The Literary Consultancy, plus an invitation to an industry day with agents and publishers. You’ll also have the option of a discussion with the University of Exeter’s Creative Writing Department. Finally, you’ll always be part of the Bridport Prize family.

Background Elements

The Memoir competition is open internationally to writers aged 16+ writing in English.

The memoir submission / results timetable can be seen here.

• Your memoir does not need to be completed to submit. We accept work in progress.
• Entries must be entirely your own work and submission is confirmation of this. Any evidence to the contrary will result in disqualification.
• Co-authored work is not eligible.
• Work must not have won or been placed – 1st, 2nd, 3rd – in another competition. Long and short listed work is eligible as long as a cash prize was not awarded and no more than 8,000 words of the commended memoir has been previously published in print or online.
• Writers must not be represented by a literary agent or under contract with a traditional publisher, at the point of submission or at the long listing or shortlisting stages. We will ask you to re-confirm eligibility if selected.
• If you receive an offer of representation while your memoir is under consideration, you must inform us and withdraw.
• Entrants must not have previously published a memoir although previously self-published memoirs, both in print and e-book form are accepted.
• Entrants who have had other types of books traditionally published e.g.) poetry or a novel, are eligible.

For clarity, ‘published’ means where a publisher has selected a work on editorial grounds for their list and that list publishes different writers, as opposed to it being comprised of one author’s works, and where the author has not paid that publisher to do so.

• Simultaneous submissions are allowed but will become ineligible should they win a prize elsewhere, be published or receive notification of future publication while the competition is still being judged. Entry fees will not be refunded. You must inform us immediately should your entry be published or win a prize elsewhere.
• Translations into English are eligible provided the source text and translation are both the entrant’s own original work and it has not been previously published in the UK.
• Entries submitted posthumously are not eligible.

If you have a query about eligibility, please contact [email protected]

 

Please ensure you read the rules carefully before entering the competition. Entry implies acceptance of all the rules and failure to comply may result in disqualification.

General

A memoir, for the purpose of this competition, is a non-fiction narrative about a particular time, events or experiences in the author’s own life. Memoirs about other people and fictional memoirs are not eligible.

Anonymity

You will not be disqualified for using your own name in your memoir. However, all entries are judged anonymously so please don’t include other identifiers on your submission such as address, phone number, email, website, twitter handle in the header / footer or in the manuscript or the work will be disqualified.

You are welcome to change the names of people and places to protect identities if you prefer. If you are using people’s real names / identities, there are various things you need to consider. Please see the following article from our award partners which explains issues around naming and identity.

• Memoirs can be written in any style or form.
• Entries must be written in English.
• We do not accept work written for children.
• Entries must be submitted online or by post. No email submissions.
• Please check you are submitting the correct version of your work before uploading as mistakes cannot be rectified later. If you find you have submitted the wrong version or have made a mistake in the work, you can withdraw it and resubmit a corrected version. Please note a further fee would be payable. Entries can be withdrawn by logging into your Submittable account. To see how to withdraw click here. Entry fees will not be refunded.
• We disqualify entries if they are over the word limit, have no overview or when any identifying marks are found on the manuscript.
• Save your file as the title of the memoir only.
• If you forget to add the title or word count your entry will NOT be disqualified.
• The Bridport Prize expects to be recognised in any published memoir associated with us.
• You can enter any number of memoirs.

Disqualification

We disqualify entries if they are named, over the word limit or have no overview. If you forget to add the title or word count your entry will NOT be disqualified.

Length

8,000 words max, (5,000 minimum) taken from the opening chapter/s and a 300 word overview which should form the first page/s of your entry.

Further submissions will be required if you are selected for the long list or shortlist. See details of these submission dates here

Long listed entrants will be asked to submit 15,000 words for the next stage of the judging process. This includes the original submission and overview. Entrants unable to comply will be disqualified.

Shortlisted entrants will be asked to submit 30,000 words for the final stage of the judging process. This includes the original submissions and overview. Entrants unable to comply will be disqualified.

Overview

The first page/s of your entry must be an overview of 300 words maximum. Please feel free to make your overview as personal and individual as possible.

The Overview should include:

  • A general paragraph about the Memoir itself.
  • A paragraph which highlights the larger themes of the work (if there are any) for example social / cultural issues, history, identity, recalling a lost past, why you have decided to write about this subject – for example a family connection / secret, because you have a particular passion / expertise in the area in which you are writing, you feel your story may be a help to others.
  • A short paragraph about the structure – ie) chronological / thematic / something more impressionistic.

Fees

£24 per memoir.

Entries must be submitted online or by post. No email submissions.

Format

• Entries must be typed in Arial 12 pt font, double-spaced with numbered pages and the memoir’s title on every page.
• Save as a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) or PDF file with the title as the file name. Please do not include your name in the file name as this will lead to disqualification.
• Max 2MB file. Include the word count for the overview and submission on the top right first page.
• Do not add cover or title pages
• Do not include photographs or illustrations. (You may include a descriptive line eg) photo of me aged 6 with my sister, to show where in the text the visuals will feature if this is important to your story. Descriptors form part of the word count).
• No handwritten submissions

Postal Entries

• Postal entry forms can be downloaded from the website here.
• Please send one copy of your manuscript and a completed form.
• Amendments or substitutions cannot be made after submission. If you wish to correct errors, you must submit a new entry marked FINAL VERSION on the first page, enter again and pay the fee.
• Entries cannot be returned. Please keep a copy.
• If you want to know your entry has arrived safely, please include a stamped, self-addressed postcard with ACKNOWLEDGEMENT in the top left-hand corner.
• It is not possible to confirm receipt of entries by phone or email.

Judging

The judges’ decision is final and no individual correspondence can be entered into. Judges are unable to comment on individual entries. The Bridport Prize reserves the right to change the judge without notice.

Copyright

Worldwide copyright remains with the author, but the Bridport Prize has the unrestricted right to publish extracts from winning and runner-up memoirs on the website and use quotations from the twelve long listed memoirs for publicity purposes.

The Bridport Prize reserves the right to amend these rules where it deems necessary. Any changes to the rules will be posted on our website.

Results & Awards

The winner and runner up will be announced on the website and social media on 12 March 2025. Extracts from the winning memoirs will be available to read on the website from 19 March.

We reserve the right to make editorial changes to the memoir extract to avoid breaching any law and so it is suitable for publication on the Bridport Prize website. We further reserve the right not to publish the memoir extract.

Finally

The Bridport Prize expects to be recognised in any published memoirs associated with us.

Any entrant found to be in contravention of the terms and conditions will be disqualified.

If you have a query about eligibility, please contact [email protected]

PLEASE DO

  • Carefully read the rules, entry requirements and eligibility before submission
  • Check you’re submitting the correct version of your piece
  • Check spam as our emails might land there
  • Get in touch with any questions before the 30 September deadline. Please email [email protected]

PLEASE DON’T

  • Forget to include a 300 word overview as the first page of your memoir
  • Worry if you omit the word count. You won’t be disqualified
  • Be alarmed if your entry confirmation email isn’t immediate. Log in and check your order history. All submitted entries are listed in date order
  • Get concerned if your postal entry fee hasn’t been taken. We open entries in batches and a delay is not unusual

Q: Can I make changes after submission?
A: No. If you want to submit an amended version, you need to enter again and pay the fee. You can withdraw your original entry by logging into your Submittable account. To see how to withdraw, please click here. To withdraw postal entries, please email [email protected]

Q: Do you accept email attachments?
A: No. You can only submit online or by post.

Q: An earlier version of my work was shortlisted in another competition, but I’ve changed it. Can I submit it?
A: Yes.

Q: My memoir is based on posts from my personal blog / website / Substack which I’ve expanded. Can I enter?
A: Yes.

Q: My work was long listed in another competition and published in an online anthology. Can I submit it?
A: Yes, providing no more than 8,000 words of the memoir have been previously published.

Q: I’m writing my autobiography. Can I submit an extract to the memoir award?
A: No. The competition is for memoirs only, autobiographies are not eligible. Please see our resources article here for an explanation about these different writing forms.

Q: Are simultaneous submissions to other competitions allowed?
A: Yes, though it’s on the understanding you’ll withdraw from the Bridport Prize if you win elsewhere. Equally, if you win with us you should withdraw from any other competitions.

Q: How many pieces can I enter?
A: You can enter any number of pieces.

Q: What about copyright?
A: Worldwide copyright remains with the author, but we have unrestricted rights to publish extracts from the winning and runner-up memoir on the website. Short excerpts from the twelve long-listed memoirs may be used for promotional material.

Q: Must my memoir be unpublished?
A: Yes, although memoirs that have been self-published, in print or digitally are eligible.

Q: My memoir isn’t finished. Can I submit it?
A: Yes, but please note the required length and timing of further submissions needed for long listed and shortlisted work. These can be found at here

Q: Are translations allowed?
A: An author’s translation of their work into English is eligible but someone else’s translation of the work is not.

Q: My memoir was previously published in another language. Can I submit it in translation?
A: Yes, providing you are translating the work yourself and it was not previously published in the UK.

Q: How do you sort entries if they’re anonymous?
A: Postal entries are coded then matched to an entry form once the judges have made their decision. Online entries are automatically tagged with a number connected to personal details.

Q: Can I use a pen name?
A: Yes. But please submit your piece in your real name. When winners are selected, we check what name you want to use.

Q: I accidentally included my details on the manuscript. Will it be disqualified?
A: Yes. You need to start over.

Q: Are postal entries returned after judging?
A: No. Please keep a copy.

Q: How do I get an entry form?
A: Download and print it from our website or email [email protected] to get one posted.

Q: What happens if I send my postal entry close to the deadline?
A: Entries postmarked on or before the 30 September deadline but arriving later will be accepted. Late entries are not.

Q: What if I forget to add a word count?
A: Don’t worry. We check if the work is long listed.

Q: When are winners notified?
A: Please see the full results timetable here

 

Ready to submit your entry?

The Bridport Prize is a way into the publishing industry. But more than that it’s a real confidence boost. Just being on the shortlist is a great achievement.

Euan Thorneycroft. Literary Agent, AM Heath
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