Thousands of new authors aspire to being the next Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbo or George Pelecanos. If you’re one of them, a competition launching tomorrow by publishing house Harvill Secker and the Telegraph newspaper could be your ladder to fame and fortune. The prize is a book deal and a £5000 advance to complete your first novel.
To enter, you need to submit the first 5000 words of your novel, as well as a two-page synopsis of the story, explaining how the rest of the novel unfolds including the ending. In other words, the judges are looking for a detailed plan. Harvill Secker is a publishing house that leads the way when it comes to international crime fiction – it publishes authors like Jo Nesbo (Norway), MD Villiers (South Africa), Fred Vargas (France) and Stuart Neville (Northern Ireland) – so a key requirement of your story is that it must have an international angle to this. However it’s up to you how you interpret this.
The judges include Alison Hennessey, senior editor at Harvill Secker; Sam Copeland, literary agent at RCW; Richard Reynolds, crime buyer at Heffers; and Jon Stock, Telegraph books desk and author of the Daniel Marchant spy thriller trilogy. “Crime fiction has always been a very important part of what we publish at Harvill Secker and as an editor, I’m always on the lookout for exciting new names,” says Alison Hennessey. “I’m delighted that, through our partnership with the Telegraph, we’ll be able to offer a brilliant new crime writer this opportunity.”
Alongside the competition, the Telegraph will be publishing crime writing advice both online and in its newspapers. Visit www.telegraph.co.uk/crimecompo from Saturday 13 July onwards, and you’ll find: Oliver Harris advising on brilliant beginnings; Jason Webster on settings and atmosphere; Susan Hill on characterisation; Alice LaPlante on suspense; and Stuart Neville on thickening the plot. The site will also be offering video advice from Henning Mankell, Arne Dahl, Henry Sutton, Jan Costin Wagner, Koethi Zan and MD Villiers.
The prize is only open to authors who have not had a novel published before and are not already signed with a literary agent. Entry is not restricted to people living in the UK, but entries must be made in the English language. All applicants must be over 18. It costs £5 to enter, and your story must be written in English. The competition closes in November. Click here for more details starting 13 July.