Richard & Judy's Search For A Bestseller 2020

Monday 13 July 2020

This year's Search for a Bestseller is now closed. Thank you for all your entires.

The Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition is back, and there has never been a better time for us to reach out to aspiring authors. The saying goes that everyone has a novel in them, waiting to be written. With lockdown causing all of us to reflect on our lives and priorities and providing many of us time to go back to old passions and develop new ones, we have a feeling that there are plenty of potential bestsellers out there just waiting to be discovered.

So, for all of you who used this time to dust off and revisit a long-forgotten manuscript, or who started off with a blank page and created something new or have just rediscovered your ambition to be published—this is the competition for you. Previous winners of the competition (Tracy Rees, Caz Frear and Claire Gradidge) have gone on to great success and enjoyed fantastic sales—you could too.

Richard Madeley commented: “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Judy Book Club has always prided itself on giving debut authors a platform, and this competition will do the same for unpublished voices.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!”

Search for a Bestseller 2020, supported by WHSmith, will be accepting manuscripts from unpublished authors from 13th July 2020 to 14th August 2020. Richard and Judy, along with a panel of people from Welbeck Publishing and WHSmith, will choose a winner who will receive a publishing deal with Welbeck Publishing.

To enter Search for a Bestseller 2020, authors must submit an original fiction manuscript aimed at adults, as well as a synopsis of their novel, via the entry form below. Scroll down for the full terms and conditions, FAQs and to submit your manuscript via our entry form.

A Note from Welbeck Publishing

Creating a bestselling novel is not a science, but there are some things to keep in mind when you are writing. Make sure that you have a strong opening chapter that engages the reader from the start. Make your characters believable and remember—too big a cast of characters is difficult for both reader and writer to keep track of. Make sure your plot and structure hold together so that a reader feels confident they are being taken on a journey. Think about your audience and what they will get out of your novel. Most of all, put your heart and soul into it.

So, if you think you can deliver all of this and more, we will look forward to turning your book into a bestseller.

Good Luck!

How do you enter?

To enter Search for a Bestseller 2020 simply fill in your details in the form below and upload your novel (plus a plot synopsis and short author biography within the same document) for consideration. Your entry must be submitted by the 14th August 2020 to be considered. Please read the full terms and conditions and FAQs before entering.


How long does my novel have to be?

Your novel should be between 70,000 and 100,000 words in length, with a synopsis of no more than 1,000 words and a biography of no more than 300 words.

Is there a limit to what I can upload?

Yes, the limit is 25MB.

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

Unfortunately, we can’t 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 competition.

In what format can I submit my novel?

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

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

Unfortunately, it is impossible to give editorial feedback to everyone who submits.

What if I am already represented by a literary agent?

We are not accepting manuscripts from authors who are already represented by a literary agent.

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 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 Welbeck Publishing?

Yes. If you write the winning novel it will be published by Welbeck Publishing who will have sole rights to publish in any language or form.

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 manuscript.

Terms and conditions



1 This Competition (defined below) entitled Richard & Judy’s “Search for a Bestseller 2020” is organised by Welbeck Publishing Group Limited, whose registered address is 20 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JW (the “Promoter”) in collaboration with the Richard & Judy Book Club and WH Smith High Street Limited (hereafter called “us”/”we”/”our”).

2 We shall run a writing competition through the following website: (the “Website”), in order to find a new literary novel by an unpublished or self-published author to be called "Search for a Bestseller 2020" (this "Competition").

3 By entering this Competition you accept, without limitation or qualification, the Competition terms and conditions set out herein (these “Terms”) without modification, and you confirm that you are eligible to do so and eligible to claim any prize you may win. 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.

4 This Competition begins on 13th July 2020 and ends at 11.59pm 14th August 2020 (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.

5 The winning entrant of the novel (the “Winner”) of this Competition will be offered a publishing contract (subject to the Winner’s acceptance of such agreement) worth a guaranteed £10,000 advance payment (ten thousand pounds, comprising of a non-returnable advance of £10,000 on account of future royalty payments from sales to be accrued against such advance payment, royalties to be mutually agreed between the Winner and Welbeck) and the Winner’s completed novel shall be published by Welbeck Fiction Limited, part of Welbeck Publishing Group Limited (“Welbeck”) and Welbeck shall be granted the sole and exclusive all publishing, subsidiary and ancillary rights to publish the Winner’s completed novel in all languages throughout the world in any and all forms now known or later invented, subject to any editorial requirements. The completed novel shall also be sold and promoted by WH Smith High Street Limited and WH Smith Travel Limited in its stores and ecommerce websites. Welbeck shall also use endeavours to sell the completed novel through other retailers. The prize is as stated and is not transferable to another individual.

6 We reserve the right to refuse entry or refuse to award the prize to anyone in breach, of, or who is found to have breached these Terms. We may extend the Competition Period due to unforeseen circumstances or unsatisfactory submissions. We may amend this Competition or these Terms without prior notice upon such situation. Any changes will be posted either on the Website or within these Terms.

7 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.


8 In order to be eligible to enter this Competition, entrants must:

8.1 be at least 18 years old and be a resident of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland. For the avoidance of doubt, we may ask the competition winner for proof of identity, age and UK residency and if a competition winner is unable to prove their residency to our satisfaction, we reserve the sole and exclusive right to disqualify such competition winner.

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

8.3 have not previously submitted the literary work entered into this Competition (the “Novel”) to a publishing company, literary agency or previous iterations of this Competition, nor self-published any literary work based on or containing the extracts of the Novel;

8.4 have not had any other literary work published in any format or form 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;

8.5 are not represented by a literary agent;

8.6 the Novel must be between 70,000 (seventy thousand) to 100,000 (one hundred thousand) words long and must be supported by your biography, of no more than 300 (three hundred) words and a synopsis of the complete Novel of no more than 1,000 (one thousand) words, which can only be submitted on the application page of the Website;

8.7 the Novel must be a piece of original Adult fiction, excluding science fiction, fantasy, children’s and teenage fiction;

8.8 the Novel is original to the entrant and the entrant are the sole author of the Novel and own all rights in the Novel, and that the Novel is in no way an infringement of any intellectual property rights (including copyright), moral right, right of privacy or any other legal right of any person or entity;

8.9 have the right to enter this Competition and are not prevented from doing so by any other agreement, commitment, arrangement or promise (verbal or written);

8.10 agree to the following judging criteria:

(i) the Winner will be chosen by a panel of judges comprising Richard Madeley, Judy Finnegan and representatives of Welbeck and WHSmith PLC;

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

(iii) the Winner will be contacted in writing (email or letter) or by other means of communication by us by no later than 29th September 2020;

8.11 the Winner must respond to the written notification from us within 2 (two) days to be eligible to be awarded the Prize. If the Winner cannot be contacted or is unable to comply with these Terms, we reserve sole and exclusive right to offer the Prize to the runner-up selected by the same panel of judges referred to above; and

8.12 the Winner’s publishing agreement will contain promotional and marketing obligation which upon acceptance of the publishing agreement and the Competition prize money. The Winner shall agree to the following promotional activities (unless agreed otherwise with Welbeck prior to signing the publishing agreement):

(i) all personal appearances and all other promotional and marketing activities as required by Welbeck, WHSmith PLC or Richard & Judy, including (but not limited to) maintaining an active social media presence;

(ii) their name and image being used for all promotional and marketing activity and material by Welbeck, WHSmith PLC or Richard & Judy individually or collectively; and

(iii) sign a publishing agreement with Welbeck to be granted the sole and exclusive right to publish (including all subsidiary and ancillary rights to) the Novel in all languages throughout the universe in any and all forms now known or later invented, the Novel must be of a minimum of 70,000 (seventy-thousand) words in length, conform and be satisfactory in content to the submitted synopsis unless otherwise agreed with Welbeck in writing and be of publishable quality.

9 Any Novels that are incomplete, illegible or indecipherable will not be valid and shall be deemed void.

10 The Winner will retain all copyright to the text and related material (which was created and included at the time of entry in this Competition) in the Novel.

11 The Promoter does not claim any rights of ownership in your competition entry.

12 The Promoter will not accept:

12.1 responsibility for competition entries that are lost, mislaid, damaged or delayed in transit, regardless of cause, including, for example, as a result of any equipment failure, technical malfunction, systems, satellite, network, server, computer hardware or software failure of any kind; or

12.2 proof of transmission as proof of receipt of entry to the competition.

12.3 The Promoter reserves all rights to disqualify you if your conduct is contrary to the spirit or intention of the Competition.

12.4 If there is any reason to believe that there has been a breach of these Terms, the Promoter may, at its sole discretion, reserve the right to exclude you from participating in the Competition.


13 In addition to any eligibility restrictions set out in the above, this 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 us or any of our parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, or advertising or promotion agencies (the “Competition Coordinators”).

14 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, age, postal address, e-mail address, telephone number and any other information collected on entry to this 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.

14.1 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.

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


15 Insofar as is permitted by law, we and the judges will not in any circumstances be responsible or liable to compensate the Winner or accept any liability for any loss, damage, personal injury or death occurring as a result of taking up the Prize or entries lost or delayed when the Novel is in our possession except where it is caused by the direct proven negligence from us and the judges. Your statutory rights are not affected.

16 Only entries which comply with the requirements as set out in these Terms and entrants who have submitted their Novel, Biography and Synopsis correctly through the application page will be valid and entered into the Competition.

17 In the event that any entrant does not, or is unable to, comply with and meet these Terms and conditions and the competition information, Incisive Media shall be entitled at its sole discretion to disqualify such entrant, without any further liability to such entrant. In these circumstances, the Prize won by the Winner may be forfeited and we reserve the right to reclaim the Prize already distributed to the Winner. Any entrant must comply with any directions given to him or her by us including but not limited to any and all relevant laws, rules and applicable regulatory codes.


18 The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these Terms shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. In the event that any provision is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable or illegal, these Terms shall otherwise remain in effect and shall be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or illegal provision were not contained herein.

19 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.