Hodder & Stoughton's literary imprint Sceptre is marking the release of a collection of stories about love in November by launching a love-themed short story competition.
How Much the Heart Can Hold contains seven commissioned original short stories each exploring a different concept of love, authored by award-winning writers Bernardine Evaristo, Carys Bray, D. W. Wilson, Donal Ryan, Grace McCleen, Nikesh Shukla and Rowan Hisayo Buchanan.
Sceptre secured world rights, striking deals with agents Karolina Sutton (for Evaristo and Wilson), Veronique Baxter (Bray), Ryan directly, Bill Hamilton (McCleen), Julia Kingsford (Shukla) and Lucy Luck (Buchanan).
The competition, called "Sceptre Loves", will coincide with the collection's launch by seeking out stories based on "any sort of love, from obsessive to platonic, unrequited to all-consuming", with the winning entry to feature in the paperback edition.
It will be judged by Lucy Luck, literary agent at Aitken Alexander Associates, Chris White, fiction buyer at Waterstones, and Emma Herdman, senior editor at Sceptre.
The winner, as well as being published in the How Much the Heart Can Hold paperback, will be awarded £150 and a two-hour consultation about their work with Herdman, who has previously worked in the fiction buying team at Waterstones and at Curtis Brown literary agency.
Entries of 5,000-10,000 words can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is Valentine's Day, on 14th February 2017.
The publication of How Much the Heart Can Hold will launch with a live storytelling event at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road in November, followed by a short story writing workshop in January, and a prize-giving evening in March when the winner of the competition will be announced.
The title publishes in hardback on 3rd November, priced £12.99.