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I’ve just caught up with the fact that Richard and Judy have launched another competition to find a first-time author with the potential to become a best-selling writer. Previously Tracy Rees, author of Amy Snow, and Caz Frear, author of Sweet Little Lies went on to enjoy fantastic sales after being chosen by them.

Search for a Bestseller‘, supported by W H Smith, is accepting manuscripts from unpublished writers until June 14th. Richard and Judy will then themselves be leading the selection process, helped by editors and agents. The winner will receive a £30,000 publishing deal with Bonnier Saffre, and specialist advice from literary agency Furniss Lawton.

Aspiring authors must submit 10,000 words of original fiction aimed at adults, plus a synopsis of the full novel and a short author biography, via Richard and Judy’s website: http://www.richardandjudy.co.uk/richard-and-Judys-Search-For-A-Bestseller-2018/711

Great novels rarely spring fully formed from their writer’s laptop. I’ve recently finished (and been bowled over by) Elinor Olifant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. As a work-in-progress, this book was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Prize. In 2014, it won the Scottish Book Trust First Chapter Award, allowing Gail to spend valuable time shaping and editing at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre.  Then, in 2017,  she was the Costa Book Awards winner. Not an overnight success, then. A hard worker rewarded.

Most novels evolve and grow over time. Entering your manuscript into competitions can give you the impetus to finally finish your book. A long-listing, or short-listing might provide the spur to invest in a writing course. Like Gail Honeyman, Margaret Kirk, who won the Good Housekeeping First Novel Competition in 2016 with Shadow Man, credits a crime-writing course at Moniack Mhor with ‘literally changing my life’. Something about that bracing Scottish air perhaps.

Competitions are a tremendous encouragement. Even if you don’t win. Even if you aren’t short-listed, or long-listed. Competitions concentrate the mind. They glue you to that laptop into the small hours and get the book written. Then all that’s needed is editing, persistence and yet more editing.