Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller 2016

Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller 2016

A Letter from Richard and Judy

If there’s one thing we’ve discovered in picking winning titles for our Richard and Judy Book Club, it is just how many fantastic new writers are out there. Since forming the club with WHSmith, we are proud to have launched the careers of a host of exciting debut authors. We were also delighted with the well deserved success of the first winner of our Search for a Bestseller competition Tracy Rees – author of the Sunday Times bestseller Amy Snow.

So now it could be your turn to see your book in print. Together with publisher Bonnier Zaffre, and WHSmith, we’re on the hunt for talented new writers, and when we find one of them we’re going to put them firmly on the road to a £50,000 publishing deal.

Are You our next bestseller? We want to meet you.

A Note from Bonnier Zaffre

What we’re looking for in a bestseller… Ah – the question to which everyone in the publishing business from authors and agents to publishers and booksellers wants the answer! Of course, it’s subjective, of course personal taste, timing, and whatever else is going on in the world outside comes in to it, but for us it’s all about the story. We want to read a book that immediately draws us into the author’s universe, a book that introduces us to a character or a situation that feels fresh and original, a story that convinces us from the beginning that it is being told truthfully and with integrity. And while there will always be exceptions, we think books that can be simply and compellingly described will always have the best chance of finding a large audience. We’re social animals and we love to share news of things or experiences we love, so if we can sum up exactly what it is about a novel we’ve enjoyed in a few sentences and want to tell our friends all about it, that suggests we’ve got a winner on our hands.

And if this sounds a bit abstract, here are some things we love to see in submissions – and some things we’re a bit less keen on…

We love:

  1. authors who keep their audience in mind as they write
  2. authors who have read widely in the genre they are working in
  3. authors who have a clear sense of the narrative arc of their story
  4. characters we believe in and like – whether they are good or bad!

We’re less keen on:

  1. novels that are largely autobiographical
  2. novels with large casts of characters it’s impossible to keep track of
  3. novels that open with a long description of a hangover…

But above all – like readers everywhere – we want to read novels that captivate, engage and excite us, novels that take us somewhere else, that keep us turning the pages. So if you think you have got what it takes to be the Richard & Judy Bestseller of 2016 – we can’t wait to hear from you!

How do you enter?

To enter Search for a Bestseller simply fill in your details in the form below and upload your 10,000 word extract (plus a plot synopsis and short author biography within the same document) for consideration. Your entry must be submitted by the 31st May 2016 to be considered. Please read the full terms and conditions and FAQs before entering.

The deadline for entries has now passed and the first stage is now closed. No further entries will be accepted. Shortlisted entrants will be contacted by 30th June 2016.

Fill out my online form.


If I notice a mistake or would like to enter a different novel, am I able to resubmit?

Unfortunately, we aren’t able to accept corrections to entries or more than one novel per entrant.

Can my novel be in any genre?

We are accepting submissions for most fiction genres including crime fiction, historical fiction, romance, thrillers and women’s fiction, but we are not looking for science fiction, fantasy, children’s and teenage fiction in this particular competition.

If I make it to the shortlist, how long does my novel have to be?

At least 80,000 words in length.

If my novel is shortlisted, when do I need to have completed the full novel?

You need to have finished the novel by 12th December 2016, although the winning entrant will have the opportunity to revise their work with Bonnier Zaffre.

If I’m not successful, will I still get editorial feedback?

We have received a large number of entries to the competition so, unfortunately, it is impossible to give editorial feedback to everyone individually.

If I submit my novel to another publisher or literary agency after the closing date, will my entry still be eligible?

Shortlisted entrants will be contacted by 30th June 2016. If you aren’t lucky enough to be shortlisted, you will, of course, be free to submit to a publisher or literary agency after this date.

If I’ve previously submitted my manuscript to another competition, but it wasn’t selected, can I submit it here?

We are very happy to accept unpublished manuscripts that have been submitted to other competitions, except for any that were submitted to the previous Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition.

If I have sent my manuscript to other agents and been rejected can I enter here?

Manuscripts that have been sent to agents cannot be entered into this competition.

If a writer has self published can they enter this competition?

Yes, writers who have self-published can enter this competition but only with an original manuscript that they have not previously self-published.

If I enter the competition and win, do I have to be published by Bonnier Zaffre and represented by Furniss Lawton?

Yes. If you write the winning novel it will be published by Bonnier Zaffre and represented by Furniss Lawton.

In what format can I submit my extract?

We can accept a single Word document, preferably, or pdf, containing your extract, synopsis and biography.

If I am shortlisted but do not win, what will happen?

We will contact all shortlisted entrants once the winner has been chosen. Clearly any shortlisted extract will have been of a high standard and, whilst under no obligation, it is possible that Bonnier Zaffre or Furniss Lawton will want to talk to you further about your novel or writing career.

Will my book be published abroad?

Yes, Bonnier Zaffre will publish the winning novel in the Commonwealth, and will also aim to secure North American and translation deals for the book.

Who will handle film and TV rights in my book?

Bonnier Zaffre will handle the TV and film rights in the winning novel on behalf of the winning author.

Is there anyone I can call with questions? What do I do if I have a question you haven’t answered on the site?

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered elsewhere on the site, please drop us a line at and we will get back to you as soon as possible. However, this email is for help with general questions about the competition and will not be able to answer specific editorial queries relating to your entry or extract.

Terms and Conditions


The website: (the “Website”) is the website run by Richard & Judy, WHSmith and Bonnier Zaffre (“us”/”we”/”our”) for Richard & Judy’s “Search for a Bestseller”.

Competition: through the Website, we propose to run a writing competition in order to find a new, unpublished or self-published author to be called “Search for a Bestseller” (the “Competition”).

Competition period: the Competition begins on 10th March 2016 and ends on 31st May 2016 (the “Competition Period”). We will continue to accept Competition entries until the end of the Competition Period but we will not consider any entries submitted after this period.

By entering the Competition you accept, without limitation or qualification, the Competition terms and conditions set out below (these “Terms”) without modification. By entering the Competition, you acknowledge that you are bound by these Terms. This is the case notwithstanding any subsequent acknowledgement by you of these Terms.

Please note, any phrase in these Terms introduced by the term “include”, “including”, “in particular” or similar expression shall be construed as illustrative and shall not limit the sense of the words preceding that term.


1: In order to enter the Competition, entrants must comply with these Terms:

1.1: be at least 18 years old. Proof of identity and age may be required. Use of a false name or address will result in disqualification;

1.2: be a resident of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland;

1.3: only one entry is allowed per person. Each entry must be made directly by the person entering the Competition;

1.4: have not previously submitted your partial novel (the “Extract”) to a publishing company, literary agency or previous iterations of the Competition, nor self-published any work based on or containing the Extract;

1.5: have not had any other novel published in any format except for any self-published novels (that being a novel published independently by the author directly through a programme such as Kindle Direct Publishing or printed under their own name or imprimatur at their own expense, without the editorial, marketing, logistical or financial support of any publishing company, and where there was no contractual arrangement with any third-party excepting the distribution platform or book printer), whether under the entrant’s name or a pseudonym;

1.6: are not represented by a literary agent;

1.7: the Extract must be between 10,000 (ten thousand) to 12,000 (twelve thousand) words long and must be supported by your biography, of no more than 500 (five hundred) words and a synopsis of the complete novel of the Extract, of no more than 1,000 (one thousand) words, which can only be submitted on the application page of the Website;

1.8: the Extract must be a piece of original fiction, excluding science fiction, fantasy, children’s and teenage fiction;

1.9: the Extract is original to you and you are the sole author of the Extract and own all rights in the Extract, and that the Extract is in no way an infringement of any copyright, moral right, right of privacy or any other legal right of any person

1.10: have the right to enter the Competition and are not prevented from doing so by any other agreement.

1.11: any Extracts that are incomplete, illegible or indecipherable will not be valid and shall be deemed void.

1.12: agree to the following judging criteria:

(i) – we will shortlist several entries, the number of which will be at our discretion and shortlisted entries will be notified by 30th June 2016 and those entries that do not make the shortlist will not be notified; shortlisted entrants will need to submit a completed manuscript by 12th December 2016 to be considered for the Prize;

(ii) – the winner (the “Winner”) will be chosen by a panel of judges comprising representatives of Bonnier Zaffre, WHSmith PLC, James Grant Media, Furniss Lawton and Richard & Judy;

(iii) – there will only be one Winner and the decision of the judges is final. No correspondence shall be entered into about the judges’ decision;

(iv) – the Winner will be contacted in writing by us by 30th January 2017;

1.13: the Winner must respond to notification from us within 21 days to be eligible for the Prize (as defined below). If the Winner cannot be contacted or is unable to comply with these Terms, we reserve the right to offer the Prize to the runner-up selected by the same panel of judges referred to above;

1.14: the Winner must agree to:

(i) – personal appearances and other promotional activity including maintaining an active social media presence as required by Bonnier Zaffre or Furniss Lawton;

(ii) – their name and image being used for promotional activity by Bonnier Zaffre, WHSmith PLC, James Grant Media, Furniss Lawton and Richard & Judy; and

(iii) – sign a publishing agreement with Bonnier Zaffre to publish and represent the Winner and to act on his/her behalf for worldwide publishing and ancillary rights in the completed novel which must be of a minimum of 80,000 words in length, conform to the submitted synopsis unless otherwise agreed with Bonnier Zaffre and be of publishable quality;

(iv) – sign a representation agreement with Furniss Lawton to represent the Winner and to act on his/her behalf for worldwide publishing and ancillary rights in the completed novel as well as the Winner’s next work of fiction.

2: Only entries which comply with the requirements set out in these Terms and have submitted their Extract, Biography and Synopsis correctly through the application page will be valid and entered into the Competition.

3: The Prize: the Winner will receive a publishing contract worth at least £50,000 (fifty thousand pounds, comprising a non-returnable advance of £50,000 and potential additional earnings dependent on sales) and the Winner’s completed novel shall be published by Bonnier Zaffre and the worldwide publishing and ancillary rights shall be exploited by Bonnier Zaffre, subject to any editorial requirements and in a manner of Bonnier Zaffre’s choosing and the Winner shall be represented by Furniss Lawton, subject to the entry into appropriate agreements with such parties. The completed novel shall also be sold and promoted by WHSmith PLC in its stores. Bonnier Zaffre shall also endeavour to sell the completed novel through other retailers. The prize is as stated and is not transferable to another individual.

4: The entrant will retain all copyright in the Extract and the completed novel.

5: Eligibility: in addition to any eligibility restrictions set out in the above, the Competition is only open to a person who is not and whose immediate family members or those living in the same household are not employed by Bonnier Zaffre, WHSmith PLC, Furniss Lawton, Richard & Judy or any of their parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, or advertising or promotion agencies (the “Competition Coordinators”).

6: The Competition Coordinators will use, store or otherwise process any personal information that relates to and identifies you, including but not limited to your name, postal address, e-mail address, telephone number and any other information collected on entry to the Competition, to the extent reasonably necessary to run this Competition, contact you regarding its outcome and provide you with information about them or any of their services or products. The Competition Coordinators will only process your personal information for the purposes described in these Terms and will not give your personal information to any third parties.

6.1: Your information may, for the purposes set out in these Terms, be disclosed for processing to:

(i) – the Competition Coordinators’ employees, affiliates, group companies and their employees and successors in title to their businesses;

(ii) – third party consultants, contractors or other service providers who may access your personal information when providing services (including but not limited to IT support services) to the Competition Coordinators;

(iii) – government bodies and law enforcement agencies and in response to other legal and regulatory requests; and

(iv) – auditors or contractors or other advisers auditing, assisting with or advising on any of our business purposes, in any jurisdiction where we operate.

6.2: By submitting any personal information to us you consent to the use of the information as set out in these Terms.

7: These Terms and Conditions may be modified or cancelled at any time without warning. Bonnier Zaffre, WH Smith PLC, James Grant Media, Furniss Lawton and Richard & Judy assume no liability for loss or damage to submitted entries due to negligence when the works are in their possession. Bonnier Zaffre, WHSmith PLC, James Grant Media, Furniss Lawton and Richard & Judy may withdraw from this Competition due to unforeseen circumstances or unsatisfactory submissions.

8: These Terms and any disputes or claims arising out of or in connection with them or their subject matter or formation (including non-contract disputes or claims) shall be governed by and construed in all respects in accordance with English Law.