Non-Fiction Open Submission

We’ve teamed up with The Times and Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency to launch an open submission period for un-agented writers of narrative non-fiction. The winner will receive a £10,000 publishing contract with The Borough Press and representation with literary agent Emma Bal.

We’re calling for unpublished, un-agented authors of narrative non-fiction to enter our open submission with a proposal and writing sample in keeping with the spirit of The Borough Press ethos: books to read now, stories that last forever. This could include, but is not limited to:

  • Writing on nature and the environment (for instance, books like The Outrun by Amy Liptrot or Wilding by Isabella Tree)
  • Art (books like The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel or What Artists Wear by Charlie Porter)
  • Travel and place (books like This is London by Ben Judah, Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin or The Crossway by Guy Stagg)
  • Life writing and memoirs (books like This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay or A Fortunate Woman by Polly Morland)

While the books may tackle a variety of subjects, what unites Borough Press titles is a personal thread holding the narrative together. We’re looking for conversation-starting books that people want to talk about, books which might offer a new perspective or opinion on a familiar topic and, above all, immersive, literary writing that draws readers in.

Entrants are invited to submit the first two chapters/50 pages of their book (up to 10,000 words) to from 1st – 31st January 2024, along with a synopsis of the book and author biography.

The winner of the competition will be selected by judges from HarperCollins, The Times and Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency based on their work’s quality and commercial potential. Entered books do not have to be complete, but must be written in English.

Editorial Director Amy Perkins said, ‘The Borough Press has been steadily building its non-fiction offering for a while now, and it’s exciting to be widening that pool by going out to discover new writers who haven’t yet found a publisher or representation. We are hoping to cast a really wide net to find currently untapped UK writing talent, while staying true to Borough’s principles of timeless storytelling.’

Literary agent Emma Bal said, ‘As an agent I have loved working with Borough Press as they’ve grown their narrative non-fiction offering, and so I’m excited to be partnering with them on this competition for aspiring authors in this space. I am hoping to see some really distinctive work and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.’

Assistant Editor Jabin Ali said, ‘Ten years marks a key milestone in Borough’s history, and the team are hugely excited to read these proposals, which we hope will spark many discussions, and find a new non-fiction book to champion on our list.’

See full terms and conditions below:


  1. This competition is promoted by The Borough Press, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (“HarperCollins”), The News Building, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF
  2. This promotion is open to UK residents who do not have and have never been represented by a literary agent. This competition also excludes employees of HarperCollins (or their parent, subsidiaries or any affiliated companies) and their immediate families, who are not allowed to enter the competition.
  3. You must be at least eighteen (18) years old to enter this competition.
  4. The winner will receive a £10,000 World All Languages publishing contract with HarperCollins as well as representation with Emma Bal at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency (the Prize).
  5. To enter, you must submit a written submission (the Submission) by email to the designated email address: which matches the criteria outlined in these Terms and Conditions.
  6. The competition opens at 00:01 1 January 2024 and closes at 23:59 31 January 2024. No Submissions received before or after this date will be accepted.
  7. If you win, no purchase is required to redeem the Prize.
  8. No cash or other alternatives to the Prize/s are available, and HarperCollins reserve the right in their reasonable discretion to substitute any Prize with a prize of equal or greater value.
  9. Submissions that have been sent by post or means other than email to the correct email address will not be accepted.
  10. Each Submission should contain:
    • The first two chapters or fifty pages, in either case no more than 10,000 words, of a non-fiction book (the Book) with sequential page numbering included, with the first page being the title page;
    • Synopsis of whole Book* (maximum 500 words); a one paragraph summary of the Book; a paragraph on target audience; a list of comparative titles; and
    • An author biography, to include any blogs and/or social media information, any creative writing courses attended, short stories published, prizes won, literary or media mentors and contacts, etc. (maximum 1 page).
    • For the avoidance of doubt, ‘the synopsis of the whole Book’ should give a full chapter breakdown and outline of the Book’s structure and content, themes and narrative arc.
  11. The Submission must be in Word format throughout all documents; all documents must be submitted at the same time, attached to a single email (the attachments each to be clearly individually marked as ‘manuscript’, ‘synopsis’, and ‘author biography’); the chapters of the manuscript are to be in one document, NOT sent as separate documents. In addition, the file name of each of the three documents should include the entrant’s name and the title of the Book and this information should also be marked on every page of each document.
  12. In the ‘Subject’ area at the top of an entrant’s submission email, entrants should put the title and their (pen) name. In the body of the email, entrants must provide their full name, address, and phone number.
  13. Submissions that do not meet requirements of these Terms and Conditions shall not be read.
  14. Any Submission containing incorrect, false or unreadable information will be rejected.
  15. An entrant may only submit a Submission on behalf of themselves. Any Submission made on behalf of or for another person, or multiple submissions, will not be read.
  16. Submissions must be:
    – within the genre of narrative non-fiction, including but not limited to: writing on nature and the environment; art; travel and place; life writing and memoirs.
    – in prose.written in English.not have been previously published/self-published or posted on publishing websites, forums or access platforms such as (but not limited to) Wattpad, Smashwords, Lulu, FanFiction, Completely Novel.
    – not have had an ISBN allocated to it.
  17. No correspondence between HarperCollins or the entrant can be entered into, unless at HarperCollins’ request, and HarperCollins will not respond to unsolicited communications.
  18. In entering this competition you agree that, if you win, in order to receive the Prize you will need to enter into a contract with HarperCollins on its standard author agreement terms. If you comply with the terms of your contract, the royalty of £10,000 (ten thousand pounds) for World rights is payable. In entering this competition, the winner accepts that they will be contractually obliged to deliver a full version of the Book to HarperCollins no later than 31 May 2025.
  19. As part of the contract the winner must:
    – undertake editorial work on the Book; and
    – undertake publicity and promotional responsibilities.
  20. The winner of the competition will be selected by a member of HarperCollins editorial team based on entries received that have complied with these Terms and Conditions, and will be notified by 31May 2024 (the Announcement Date), and an announcement will be made after this time.
  21. There is no obligation on HarperCollins to publish any of the entrants to the Open Submission, in print or in eBook, or to offer any sort of editorial advice.
  22. The HarperCollins’ decision as to who has won the competition is final; unsuccessful entrants will be notified but no feedback will be provided on unsuccessful entries.
  23. Entrants will retain all copyright in the Submission and by submitting the Submission the entrants grant HarperCollins a licence to copy the Submission and share it with its affiliates solely for the purpose of reviewing it for the purposes of this competition.
  24. HarperCollins will not be able to return any submissions, so make sure you have a copy stored safely before you submit.
  25. HarperCollins is not responsible for contacting entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries lost, misdirected, delayed, or destroyed. If the winner cannot be contacted within a reasonable timeframe, HarperCollins reserves the right to select another winner.
  26. Any personal information you give us will be used solely for reviewing your submission and will not be passed on to any other parties without your agreement. HarperCollins’ privacy policy can be found at:
  27. Under no circumstances will HarperCollins be responsible for any loss, damages, costs, or expenses arising from or in any way connected with any errors, defects, interruptions, malfunctions, or delays in the promotion of the competition or Prize.
  28. HarperCollins will not be responsible unless required by law, for any loss, charges, costs or expenses, which may arise in connection with this competition and HarperCollins can cancel  the competition at any stage.
  29. The entry instructions are part of the Terms and Conditions for this competition. By entering this competition you are agreeing to accept these Terms and Conditions. Any breach of these Terms and Conditions by you will mean that your entry will not be valid, and you will not be allowed to enter this competition.
  30. To obtain the name of the winner after the Announcement Date, please write to The Borough Press, HarperCollins Publishers, The News Building, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF.
  31. By entering this competition, you are agreeing that if you win your name and image may be used for the purpose of announcing the winner in any related publicity with HarperCollins, without additional payment or permission. You can withdraw your consent to this at any time.
  32. All entrants are expected to act fairly and in the good spirit of the competition. HarperCollins reserves the right to investigate any irregularities and disqualify entrants at its absolute discretion.
  33. Any dispute relating to the competition shall be governed by the laws of England and Wales and will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

Other Articles

OF THIS OUR COUNTRY: Essay Competition

OF THIS OUR COUNTRY is a collection of personal essays that explore Nigeria through the memories and experiences of the phenomenal writers it has produced. Publishing on 30th September 2021, its intention is to bring together both acclaimed and upcoming Nigerian writers, so we are holding a competition to… Read More

Borough Birthday: The Books That Made Us

To celebrate our 6th birthday, The Borough Press team would like to tell you about the stories that made us fall in love with words, and have moulded us into the book-lovers that we are today. Suzie, Publishing Director ‘One of the first books I remember loving was Richard… Read More

Easter Weekend Reads

Four-day weekends were pretty much made for reading, so here’s what our heads will be buried in for the next few days… Ore: I have been thinking about Laura Jane Williams’ Our Stop ever since I heard about it at highlights from our colleagues over at Avon, and I loved… Read More