for writers and readers….

Search for a Bestseller – a £50,000 opportunity for a new novelist


Richard and Judy – that’s husband and wife Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan – are searching for a new bestselling writer. The competition is open to unpublished novelists resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland and the winner gets a £50,000 publishing deal with Bonnier Zaffre and representation from literary agency Furniss Lawton. Unpublished means writers who “have not previously had a novel published or released into the public domain in any format, including but not limited to the internet.” The manuscript also can’t have been submitted to other competitions or literary agents.

Submission: 10,000 words of an orginal novel aimed at adult readers. It can be crime fiction, historical fiction, romance, thrillers and women’s fiction, but no science fiction, fantasy, children’s and teenage fiction. You also need to send a 500 word (max) biography and a 1,000 word (max) synopsis.

If you’re short listed you need to have finished the novel by 12th December 2016. The completed novel has to be at least 80,000 words.

Deadline: 31 May 2016

Publishers Bonnier Zaffre say  they are looking for:

  1. authors who keep their audience in mind as they write

  2. authors who have read widely in the genre they are working in

  3. authors who have a clear sense of the narrative arc of their story

  4. characters we believe in and like – whether they are good or bad!

What they don’t want to see:

  1. novels that are largely autobiographical

  2. novels with large casts of characters it’s impossible to keep track of

  3. novels that open with a long description of a hangover…

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that opens with a hangover – but it sounds as though this publisher has seen far too many. I also suggest you don’t start with the weather (unless it’s essential to the story) or the main character waking up.
Usually the best place to start is in medias res (Latin for into the middle of things), diving into a dramatic moment that is part of a connected chain of events. The dramatic moment comes directly from what has gone on before, but the reader only gradually learns what that is. Or put it another way, start at a moment of change or just before.

If writing a synopsis is a challenge you might find this post from the archives useful:

10 Rules for Writing a Synopsis


Find out more about the competition HERE



8 comments on “Search for a Bestseller – a £50,000 opportunity for a new novelist

  1. Mira Prabhu
    April 16, 2016

    It’s a pity this competition is restricted to certain writers. Why do they do this, do you know? Must have good reason.

    • bridget whelan
      April 16, 2016

      They are clearly striving to find manuscripts that ‘are fresh to the market’ (a term I’ve just borrowed from one of those TV shows about antiques).

      I can see the attraction of discovering a new writer but I’ve just double-checked and in the terms and conditions they state that they don’t want manuscripts that have been submitted to other competitions or agents in the past even if they haven’t been short listed or taken up. That I don’t understand.

      We all know some of our best and commerically succesful writers have recieved numerous rejections before being published.

  2. Pingback: Search for a bestseller – a £50,000 opportunity for a new novelist | The Proof Angel

  3. Pingback: Friday Roundup – 22nd April | Stevie Turner, Indie Author.

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This entry was posted on April 16, 2016 by in News and tagged , , .


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