Search for a Bestseller: 2016 winner, Caz Frear, describes her experience

Thursday 24 May 2018

Like a lot of writers, I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. Certainly, there’s been periods where life has taken over and I’ve written less, but there’s never been a time when I haven’t been plotting, sketching out ideas, telling anyone who would listen that I was going to write a novel some day and who knows, maybe even publish a novel. It was therefore no surprise that I was besieged with messages about the R&J Search for a Bestseller competition in March 2016.

‘Have you seen this, Caz?’ ‘Yes’

‘Are you going to enter?’ ‘Maybe’

‘Come on, what have you got to lose?’ ‘Nothing, I suppose’

It’s hard to fathom now that I ever said ‘Maybe’, but if there’s one thing true about writers and writing, it’s that fear and self-doubt are near-constant companions and quite simply, there was a voice in my head that kept sniping, ‘Who are you kidding, you obviously aren’t going to win.’ Thankfully though, with the encouragement of family and friends and with roughly a third of a novel to my name, I set about polishing my first 12,000 words (and polishing and polishing and polishing– seriously, I could have recited those first few chapters word for word!)

Weirdly, I can remember the exact date and time I clicked the ‘Submit’ button. It was Wednesday 18th May, just before 2pm. I recall it so clearly as I was just about to go to the Cotswolds for a few days and I was still tweaking my entry as my husband was loading up the car and insisting we had to leave! It’s so strange now to think of the days that followed - the days spent rambling around the villages; eating, drinking, chatting about life, love and everything, with absolutely no idea of the rollercoaster I’d just set in motion.

And wow, what a rollercoaster.

Since winning the competition, the question I’m most asked is, ‘So how does it feel?’ and I’ll admit I’m often at a loss how to answer this. ‘Fantastic!’ doesn’t quite cover it. ‘Amazing!’ is how I’d describe a holiday or a good meal. How exactly do you describe the feeling of getting everything you ever wanted? Is there any one word that sums up the experience of seeing your book on the shelves, meeting Richard & Judy, finding out Lynda La Plante LOVES your work, getting to #1 on Amazon, selling the TV rights, signing a new 2-book deal, embarking on a US book tour?

And breathe.

Overwhelming is the only way to describe it, really. Overwhelming, in the happiest, sunniest sense of the word. The past year has been one long conveyor-belt of ‘Can-this-really-be-happening?’ moments – titles, covers, edits, interviews, reviews, festivals, new friends (finding my writer tribe!)

Finally doing what I was meant to do.

So if you’re thinking of entering, I urge you to just go for it. Drown out the self-doubt and dust off that manuscript! You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Even just entering focuses you on getting those first 3/4 chapters in sparkling condition and getting shortlisted means you’ll definitely have a completed novel by the end of the year, if nothing else.

And you never know, you might just win.

I did.

And I still can’t believe it.

Caz Frear is the author is SWEET LITTLE LIES
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