The Terry Pratchett First Novel Award

December 21st, 2011


Sir Terry Pratchett had this to say:

Anywhere but here, anywhen but now. Which means we are after stories set on Earth, although it may be an Earth that might have been, or might yet be, one that has gone down a different leg of the famous trousers of time (see the illustration in almost every book about quantum theory).

We will be looking for books set at any time, perhaps today, perhaps in the Rome of today but in a world where 2000 years ago the crowd shouted for Jesus Christ to be spared, or where in 1962, John F Kennedy’s game of chicken with the Russians went horribly wrong. It might be one day in the life of an ordinary person. It could be a love story, an old story, a war story, a story set in a world where Leonardo da Vinci turned out to be a lot better at Aeronautics. But it won’t be a story about being in an alternate Earth because the people in an alternate Earth don’t know that they are; after all, you don’t.

But this might just be the start. The wonderful Peter Dickinson once wrote a book that could convince you that flying dragons might have existed on Earth. Perhaps in the seething mass of alternate worlds humanity didn’t survive, or never evolved — but other things did, and they would have seen the world in a different way. The possibilities are literally endless, but remember, it’s all on Earth. Maybe the continents will be different and the climate unfamiliar, but the physics will be the same as ours. What goes up must come down, ants are ant-sized because if they were any bigger their legs wouldn’t carry them. In short, the story must be theoretically possible on some version of the past, present or future of a planet Earth.


1. By entering this competition, you agree to accept and be bound by these terms and conditions. All entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions of this competition.

2. This competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over who is a resident of the UK, other countries of the British Commonwealth, and the Republic of Ireland, except for employees (and their families) of Transworld Publishers, a division of The Random House Group Limited (Publisher) and any other company connected with the competition.

3. The closing date for the competition is 31st December 2012 (Closing Date).

4. Each entrant must submit the following in order to enter the competition:

(a) a complete and previously unpublished work of fiction of not less than 80,000 words and not more than 150,000 words aimed at adult readers and written in the English language (Novel); and
(b) a synopsis of the Novel in the English language of no more than 600 words,
(together, Entry).

5. Each Entry must:

(a) be emailed to the Publisher at;

(b) include the entrant’s full name and contact details (including a home address and a telephone number); and
(c) be submitted as a Word document with double spacing in font size 12 point ‘Times New Roman’.

6. Each entrant warrants to the Publisher that:

(a) they have not previously had a full length novel written or co authored by them (under any name) published under a valid ISBN; and
(b) their Novel is original to them, does not infringe copyright or any other intellectual property right and does not defame or invade the privacy rights of any third party, or infringe any other legal rights, regulations or laws.

7. Each entrant can submit one Entry only, and may not re-submit work that was entered for the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award in 2010.

8. The winning entrant will be offered an advance payment against royalties of £20,000 on entering into a publishing contract with the Publisher (Prize) and will be required to agree to license exclusive world publishing rights in all print, electronic, audio and any other media formats in the Novel to the Publisher on acceptance of the Prize. At the Publisher’s discretion, shortlisted entrants may also be offered publishing deals with the Publisher. Subject to any such contractual agreement, entrants will retain their legal rights to their Entries.

9. Entries that do not comply with these terms and conditions (by example Entries received after the Closing Date) will not be accepted by the Publisher. The Publisher is not responsible for delayed or lost Entries. Entrants are advised to retain a copy of their Entries.

10. A shortlist of six entrants will be contacted by the Publisher by 31st March 2013. The publisher will select the winner from the shortlisted entrants and the winner will be announced by 31st May 2013.

11. Events may occur that render the awarding of the Prize impossible due to reasons beyond the control of the Publisher and the Publisher may, at its absolute discretion, vary, amend, suspend or withdraw the Prize with or without notice.

12. Winning and shortlisted entrants agree to the Publisher’s use and publication of their name, country of residence and photograph in relation to the Publisher’s publicity activities.

13. The Publisher will use the personal details of entrants only for the purpose of this competition. Personal details will not be kept on file by the Publisher and will not be passed on to any third parties.

14. The shortlisted entrants and winner’s names will be available on from 31st March 2013 and 31st May 2013 (as applicable).

15. The Publisher’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into in relation to this competition. No cash alternative will be offered.

16. These terms and conditions are subject to English law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

17. The contact details of the promoter of this competition are: Transworld Publishers, 61-3 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA,

Comments for: The Terry Pratchett First Novel Award

  1. Priscilla says:

    Does being self published count as being previously published.

    • Jenni says:

      Unfortunately yes, being self-published does count because your book will have a valid ISBN attached to it!

  2. Dear Sir Terry,

    I have been a fan of your work since I was eleven years old and read ‘Hogfather’. I have read almost all of the Discworld books, the Bromeliad Trilogy, the Johnny Maxwell trilogy, the Dark Side of the Sun, Nation, Strata, and the Carpet People. You are one of my literary heroes, and I’ve always wanted to write like you.
    After reading ‘Guards, Guards’, I fell in love with L-Space. The few scenes in ‘Guards, Guards’ were not enough to satisfy me. I wished there was an entire book about the Library, the Librarian, and L-Space.
    In this leg of the Trousers of Time, you didn’t write that book. So I wrote a book that drew from it, instead. Along the way, it took on a life of its own. In short, I’ve recently completed a 60,000 word, alternate-history fantasy novel, inspired by the Unseen University Library. It’s dedicated to you, in thanks for all the inspiration you gave me.
    I am eighteen years old. My novel is the right length, and the right topic. However, I’m American.
    Does this make me ineligible for the contest? I would be delighted to participate, if there’s any way I could. If not, I’m sorry.
    Thank you for your time, your wit, and your brilliance.

    Mallory J. Schmitz

    • KJ says:

      Hi Mallory,
      Due to some unfortunate events starting from around 1773 and then in 76, you might not be eligible. ;)

      I’m sure they’d open up the contest for US very soon, I was just touched by your response and thought “This guy is living the life that I so wish I was” :) (I am a horrible writer ;) )

      Best of luck dude.

  3. Linda Smith says:

    Do the entry conditions apply to self published novels?

    • Hi Linda,

      The terms state you can’t have written a full length novel published under a valid ISBN. It doesn’t distinguish between traditional and self-publishing. That said, you can self-publish on Kindle without an ISBN!


  4. Tilo Flache says:

    I’m disapointed now … unfortunately a lot of people outside the geographic boundaries stipulated are excluded from participation. I can only guess that this is due to some legal restrictions and hope this will change some day.

  5. Mouilleron says:

    Je suis française, quelle dommage, je me faisais une joie de participer à ce concours … Est-ce-que je peux quand même envoyer un roman ??
    Merci pour votre réponse et joyeux Noël.

  6. Wolfgang says:

    Ich bin begeisterter Leser vom SIR und freu mich schon auf einen nächsten Roman.Merry Christmas, Wolfgang

  7. Mrs Rosemary McGowan says:

    What a wonderful way to spice up the “Groundhog Day” life this housewife leads…Brilliant!

  8. I would love to join.. :-( But cant as I live in Germany and I love Terry Pratchett..

  9. Laura says:

    Too bad I’m not British! I would love to submit something!

  10. kat says:

    Hooray! A contest I can finally enter! Usually anything is only open to residents of the US…but this one is open to the Commonwealth! YAY! So happy!

  11. Stacey says:

    “the story must be theoretically possible on some version of the past, present or future of a planet Earth.”
    I’m not a theologist but isn’t most anything theoretically possible if you think about it? I’m a bit unclear as to what I can’t do with my story.

  12. Terri Bruce says:

    I wish I lived in Britain, does that count? Such a bummer, and I have the perfect novel to submit as well.

  13. Michele says:

    What about a novel about a future-Earth that’s actually on another planet? ie Humanity (or part of it) has gone off and colonised another planet and made it Earth-like? Or is that not eligible?

  14. Karen Prince says:

    If my current middle grade novel gets picked up by some miracle and is in the process but not yet published, will I still be able to enter with a different novel?

  15. Lindsay says:

    I was wondering if I could enter as I am Scottish, but currently live outside of the UK?

  16. What are the legal definitions of “resident of the UK”? What about expats who maintain an address, for instance?

  17. Anita says:

    This is amazing. I’m so sad I live in Norway right now, I would LOVE to join. :(

  18. David Macpherson says:

    Does the book have to be Pratchett-esque?

    I have a sci-fi book I have been working on set in a near future Earth but in terms of tone it is more like Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein than Discworld. Would that be suitable for the comp?

  19. Nicole says:

    It’s so sad, that I’m not allowed to attend this competition (but, it’s okay, I need much more than “School-English” for a whole story). Good luck at everybody!

  20. Marita says:

    Would urban fantasy count?
    My novel is set in a very real City, but my characters are slightly ‘different’.
    I.e.the imaginary frogs in a real garden.

  21. David the Evil Overlord says:

    Well, I live in Australia, so that counts as Commonwealth.
    I’ve think the one I will get finished in time is set in an alternate Earth where super heroes are real.

  22. David the Evil Overlord says:

    What are the contest rules regarding profanity? I have a teenage protagonist who gets her mouth washed out with soap whenever her mother catches her swearing.

  23. David the Evil Overlord says:

    If I write a short story, and get it published in a magazine…then use the short story as the first chapter in my novel, is that against the rules?

  24. Llama God says:


    How alternate does “alternate” have to be? For example, would something like James Bond or True Blood count as being “alternate” – they’re both very much set on Earth, but it’s clearly not this one because they both have elements of fantasy to them (which you could however extrapolate or rationalise from some basic, logical premise) – or are they not different enough? Does it have to spring from something of the magnitude of, say, “imagine if Rome didn’t fall”? There seems to be a very fine yet vague line here, and I just don’t want to get too far and discover I’ve not been ambitious enough in my re-ordering of the world…

    Also, will I lose points for wasting three months before getting my arse in gear..?


  25. Charlotte says:

    As I am unfortunately 17 this year, not 18, I was wondering whether the competition will a) be running next year and b) if it will have the same rules and be the same idea? I have some ideas so I really want to enter!
    Thank you!

  26. David says:

    I’ve had a novel published on a small scale but by a non-uk / commonwealth publisher. I understand the terms but perhaps there’s an unwritten assumption that they refer to UK and commonwealth publishers. Could I be eligible?

  27. David says:

    I’ve had a novel published on a small scale and in Spain. Does a Spanish ISBN count, or only UK/Commonwealth – registered ISBNs?

  28. media says:

    I’m not certain the place you are getting your information, but good topic. I must spend a while studying much more or working out more. Thanks for great info I was on the lookout for this info for my mission.

  29. David the Evil Overlord says:

    I have a problem with my novel-in-progress. The Muse wants the climax to be “oh, there ARE alternate Earths”. Does that break your rules?

  30. S. Rice says:

    I’m in the process of writing a novel that follows two fantasy beasties as they try to complete a somewhat obscure quest. One of the background concepts is that fantasy creatures really do exist, but have hidden their existence from the humans of modern day earth, sooo…would I be able to submit it in this competition? I’m a little unsure, since I’m focusing more on the fantasy element than the realistic, and there is some magic involved…

  31. Peter Setters says:

    Argh my story is 72000 words! Maybe it would be worth submitting anyway.

    If the story is 95% set in someone’s imagination, yet that person lives on Earth – does that count?

    • Christophe Luxford says:

      Well, you’ve got until the end of December to find a way to slot another 8,000 or so words in. My first draft came to a little under 72,000 words, am about a third of the way through the second draft and my rewrites etc have brought it up to nearly 76,000 so far. Still to short of course, but plenty of scope for getting it into the right length by the end of the third or fourth draft. Doubt I’ll have time for more than that.

  32. JC Shores says:

    Is there even a remote possibility that you will open this contest to us Yanks? Admittedly, Americans are (generally) not nearly as erudite as Brits, considering that we believe a Google search qualifies as “exhaustive research,” yet there are a few of us with some original ideas and nominal writing skills who would love an opportunity to work with Sir Terry (frankly, I think “His Royal Majesty” comes closer to how highly many of us revere him).

  33. One spider is helping the other along if they have 16 legs. You know my biggest laugh I have ever had in your stories? Good Omens. I liked the rest but that was Great. 6th August 6.31am I’ll be walking a mile back to home after cleaning up Trains during the Olympics. I take it you have catch up TV? Horizon did a great Documentary. Curiosity Lands on Mars. It would make my Morning so great if NASA pulled this off with a fourteen minute time difference between Planets.

  34. Ivonne Marais says:

    Hi. I live in South Africa. Is this competition open to me? I just want to be 100% sure. Thank you

  35. Caleg the Ripper says:

    If I am not shortlisted, do I retain rights to my work. That is, may I rework it for publication elsewhere?

  36. Quinn says:

    I would LOVE to participate. I’m unpublished, unknown, and have a half-novel (so far) that fits the description to a tee.

    However, I’m a Commonwealth subject living in sin in a non-Commonwealth country at the moment.

    So my backside resides in the U.S., but my heart and my citizenship are firmly planted in Canada.

    Can I pretty please get a waiver?

  37. Foong says:

    Hi, is a novel written by two people (like Good Omens) eligible for this contest? Thanks!

  38. Nat Cairns says:

    My novel is fantasy and magic one of many projects i have going on and is aimed more at teenagers (due to light swearing) does that matter. can i inbox or email or something with small details to see if they count just so i know which one to choose thank you for this opportunity

  39. Nat Cairns says:

    Also how do you enter do we just email our stories in

  40. Torben says:

    If I’ve written a novel, but had input on characters/character concepts from other people, is that novel still eligible, provided the people in question have given their consent to use the characters?

  41. john mack says:

    Is thare any chance of this contest being opened to non-Brits? or perhaps another contest for us? I was so excited by the idea of the contest and my love of everything Pratchet that I wrote 60,000 words before noticing the residency stipulation. If nothing else, it’s the best I’ve written, so there’s always a bright side.

  42. Jamie says:

    Okay, I WAS published before, by an American publisher. It was very small, and I sold very, very few copies, mostly to family and friends. I barely made anything, and left after less than a year. Am I eligible for entering? I really hope I am. My story is of the Grim Reaper, living in an alternate world. God is the only one who knows this world is Alternate to the one the reader resides in. It is part of an ongoing series.

  43. Glen says:

    Just to clarify your use of “advance payment against royalties”, will you demand repayment of any advance that is not covered by royalties?
    Although such a thing is unusual, it isn’t unheard of.

  44. Jer says:

    Doesn’t Seattle count? We’re soggy all the time like the English, we were once part of Canada before the Oregon treaty of 1846, and we have our own crumpet shoppe. Is it because of they way we spell “color”? ;-p

  45. Tom Murch says:

    I’m just re-reading my transcript now, purging a few small typos: could you tell me the precise time this contest ends? It says above that December 31st is the closing date, but is that at morning, midday, or midnight in terms of GMT?

  46. Kate says:

    Hi there,
    I sent my work of on the 31st before midnight, and i just wanted to ask a couple of questions.
    First, if the email got through to you ok? i sent it using the same email address as above. Just a quick confirmation to be sure.
    Second, i was curious as to know how many entried you have had for the Award. Are you at liberty to disclose the number or do we have to wait untill the closing date?
    Thanks for your time