Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan are on the hunt for writers who have produced content during the lockdown period, launching their Search for a Bestseller competition.
The quest to find “new lockdown talent” is supported by WH Smith and new publishing partner, Welbeck Publishing, and is open to aspiring, but unpublished writers.
Win a publishing deal
This will be the fifth year that the Search for a Bestseller competition runs, looking for unpublished writers. This year, the judges are particularly interested in “those who found lockdown the perfect time to finally put pen to paper or revisit a previously written manuscript.”
However, it will be the first year the competition is not run in collaboration with Bonnier Zaffre, a publisher which has offered winners publishing deals of between £30,000 and £50,000 in the past.
This year, a publishing deal worth at least £10,000 is currently on the table.
The winning novel will be published by Welbeck Fiction in spring 2021.
When do submissions open?
Submissions to the competition opened on 13 July 2020. Manuscripts can cover a wide range of genres, including crime, historical, romance or contemporary.
When is the competition deadline?
Writers must submit completed manuscripts (70,000 to 100,000 words) by Friday 14 August 2020.
To apply, visit the Richard & Judy website, where you will also find the full terms & conditions.
When will the winner be announced?
The winner will be announced on Monday 5 October. Previous winners include Caz Frear with Sweet Little Lies, Tracy Rees with Amy Snow, and Claire Gradidge with The Unexpected Return of Josephine Fox.
‘We can’t wait to see what lockdown treasures are in store’
TV personalities Madeley and Finnigan will lead the selection process, along with a panel of experts from Welbeck and WH Smith.
Madeley said, "Judy and I are delighted to be launching this year’s Search for a Bestseller competition. The Richard and Judy Book Club has always prided itself on giving debut authors a platform, and this competition will do the same for unpublished voices.
“We know how testing the last few months have been for everyone, so if you’ve been motivated to write - or just want to dust off that manuscript in your bottom drawer - send us your submissions. We can’t wait to see what lockdown treasures are in store.”
Jon Elek, fiction publisher at Welbeck, said, "There are few preconditions to writing great fiction, but time is probably the most important.
“Though our circumstances have all varied during the months of national quarantine, it seemed to us that many aspiring writers throughout the country might finally have had a chance to spend some serious time with their novels - either starting one, finishing one, or editing one.
“Perhaps, in some cases, all three. We want to find the best book, publish it, and make it a bestseller."