Richard & Judy search for a lockdown bestseller

Richard & Judy search for a lockdown bestseller

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan are launching their Search for a Bestseller competition to find "new lockdown talent".

Open for submissions from today (Monday 13th July) and supported by W H Smith and new publishing partner Welbeck Publishing, the competition is open to all aspiring unpublished writers—"including those who found lockdown the perfect time to finally put pen to paper or revisit a previously written manuscript". 

This will be the fifth year of the competition but the first that the competition breaks with Bonnier Zaffre, which in the past has offered winners publishing deals of between £30k and £50k. This year a publishing deal worth at least £10,000 is on the table.

2020 also marks the 10th anniversary of the Richard and Judy Book Club. 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Judy Book Club has always prided itself on giving debut authors a platform, and this competition will do the same for unpublished voices. Across a wide range of genres, including crime, historical, romance or contemporary, we want to hear your stories and give one talented writer the joy of seeing their novel in print. 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."

The winner will be announced on Monday 5th October 2020. Previous winners include Caz Frear with Sweet Little Lies, Tracy Rees with Amy Snow and Claire Gradidge with The Unexpected Return of Josephine Fox.

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."

Lucy Swinburn, head of books at W H Smith, said: "We’re delighted to be teaming up with Richard and Judy and Welbeck Publishing for the Search for a Bestseller competition this year. As we celebrate 10 years of the Richard and Judy Book Club with W H Smith, which has been a platform for so many bestsellers and debut novels, we’re excited to support the opportunity for another debut writer to share their novel with our customers."

Unpublished writers must submit completed manuscripts (70,000 to 100,000 words) from Monday 13th July to Friday 14th August 2020. The full terms & conditions are available to read on the Richard & Judy website.

Madeley and Finnigan will lead the selection process, along with a panel of experts from Welbeck and W H Smith. The winning novel will be published by Welbeck Fiction in spring 2021.