Posted by Jazz on Tuesday February 6th, 2024

Do you wish you had a professional editor on board to help you develop your children’s novel or idea? Well, this opportunity might just be for you!

We’re delighted to announce a 24-hour open submissions period here at Chicken House, for finished or unfinished debut novels for children aged 7 up to (and including) YA, for the chance to gain mentorship from a member of our editorial team.

Writers selected during past Open Coops include Alison Weatherby (The Secrets Act) and Sabine Adeyinka (Jummy at the River School), both of whom went on to sign publishing contracts with Chicken House!

What we are offering

Our editorial team (consisting of Rachel Leyshon, Barry Cunningham and Shalu Vallepur) will pick their favourite submissions to receive feedback and mentoring. We’d love to help you develop your idea or draft into a fully-fledged children’s novel with expert editorial input.

How to submit

In order to submit, please create a single Word document including the following material and email it to opencoop@chickenhousebooks.com between 12:01am and 11:59pm (UK time) on 29 February 2024.

A cover letter of no more than a page, single spaced, including a short pitch for your story, a little about yourself, and how far along you are with writing the novel.

A synopsis of not more than a page, single spaced, describing the story you’re writing from beginning to end (no cliff-hangers!). If you haven’t decided on the full synopsis yet, that’s OK – you can detail as much of the story as you have planned.

Either the first 1,500 words or the first three chapters of your novel (whichever is longest).

Please ensure the title of your email follows this format: OPEN COOP: [Your name] [Your title]

Entry is FREE!

Please note that due to the volume of submissions we receive, we are unable to respond to entrants individually either to confirm receipt or if you have been unsuccessful. We will only be in touch if we are interested in moving forward with your submission.

What to submit

Although we encourage submissions of children’s and YA novels of all themes and subjects, here are a few ‘wish list’ items from two of our editors …

Rachel would love to see something from underrepresented groups, new perspectives, and animal stories for any age.

Shalu is interested in fantasy stories, Middle Grade or YA, that offer a fresh perspective. Own voice stories centred around culture and identity (especially food!) are always encouraged!

We can’t wait to hear about what you’re working on!


Will I receive a confirmation email once I’ve submitted?

No – unfortunately we don’t have the ability to confirm receipt of your entry.

Can I send more than one novel/pitch?

No – Open Coop is limited to one submission per person.

Will you let me know if I’m not successful?

We will be in touch with those we’d like to take forward within 3 months of entry. Sadly if you haven’t heard from us by then, you have been unsuccessful on this occasion – but please try again next time!

Do I have to have written the full manuscript already?

No – if you have then that’s great, but at this point we’re just looking for a great idea and a sample of your writing.

What’s the difference between the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition and Open Coop – and can I enter Open Coop if I’ve already submitted to the Competition?

The Times/Chicken House Competition (which is currently open for unagented submissions) is for a full manuscript, there is an entry fee and the prize is a publishing contract. Open Coop is a much more casual affair, and not a competition – it’s for manuscripts at all stages of development, it’s free, and we’ll be looking at submission samples and offering mentorship rather than a formal prize. It’s fine for you to submit to Open Coop as well as the Times/Chicken House – even if it’s with the same book – particularly as they are assessed by two different teams of readers.

I’m under 18 – am I able to submit?

Unfortunately not – for legal reasons you must be over 18.

I don’t live in the UK. Am I eligible to submit?

Yes. We welcome all entries.

Can I submit my short story/poetry/graphic novel/picture book/non-fiction work?

No. Chicken House publishes children’s/YA fiction for ages 7+.

I have a literary agent? Can I submit?

No. Agented authors are not eligible to enter – after all, we accept ordinary submissions via all established literary agencies.

I have previously had published a short story/poem/picture book/non-fiction/academic title. Can I still enter?
Yes, you are eligible as long as you haven’t had a full-length children’s novel commercially published, anywhere in the world.

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