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Do you yearn to be the next P D James? If so, I understand that The Daily Mail First Novel Competition offers a previously unpublished crime writer a prize of £20,000 plus a publishing deal with Penguin Random House, one of the world’s most respected publishers.

Judges will be top crime writer Simon Kernick, leading literary agent Luigi Bonomi (who will represent the winner), top publisher Selina Walker (who will publish the winner) and Daily Mail literary editor Sandra Parsons (who, presumably, will provide publicity in her paper).

They’re asking for your first 5,000 words, a 600 word synopsis, and a covering letter about yourself. The deadline is May 5 and your entry needs to be POSTED, so give yourself extra time to visit the Post Office. The book, which must be for an adult readership, needs to be completed by November.

If you don’t read The Daily Mail and missed this do check the full terms online at dailymail.co.uk/crimenovel

This contest was launched last year and had more than 5,000 entries. The winner, Amy Lloyd‘s crime thriller Red River, has already been sold to publishers all over the world and film rights are currently being negotiated. It was published in January.

Ninevoices have two members working on crime novels, and a third whose short story about bodies buried on Tunbridge Wells Common was shortlisted in a magazine competition.

Competitions like this don’t come every day, especially ones that are FREE. In 2016 Scottish writer Margaret Kirk won the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition with her book Shadow Man and is now an established writer. The Good Housekeeping competition, incidentally, is open until the end of this month. See details in our post of February 9.

If you feel you’ve set yourself an impossible task with your writing, be encouraged by this, from Simon Kernick:

“It took 30 years, numerous unfinished projects, two unpublished novels and about 300 rejection letters before I finally got a publishing contract. Since then, I’ve written 15 crime thrillers, and I can honestly say I enjoy the process as much now as I did when I first began.”

Only thirty years and three hundred rejections? Why are we dithering?