First, I would like to remind you that competitions – always an excellent way to bring your work to the attention of publishers – are available for a number of genres of writing. One of them is based right here in Devon.
Literature Works are promoting their First Page Writing Prize with an entry fee of just £5. You submit the first page of a novel (of which you only need to have written three chapters) and a very short synopsis of the whole novel as you imagine it. The prize is £1500 and a look at those first three chapters by a literary agent, who will give the winner feedback.
Mslexia have a novel writing competition coming up in September, this time for whole novels. I know to my cost how stressful it was to have not quite completed my novel, never expecting to get longlisted, then having to write six chapters at breakneck speed to submit! You also need a 1000 word or so synopsis and the fee is £25, but all the shortlisted writers last time found agents, and several found publishers.
Barnstaple library has three writing groups, all on the first Saturday of the month. Contact the library for further details. Well worth a look, I’m hoping to join one myself.