Headline Publishing Group are delighted to launch an open submissions prize for un-agented, unpublished writers of adult fiction from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
The winner will be offered a publishing contract with Headline and shortlisted candidates will receive a one-to-one mentoring session with an editor. All entrants will be invited to a Zoom workshop with a panel of Headliners from different areas of the business, from editorial and sales to marketing, publicity and design, to help demystify the publishing industry.
We’re looking for a commercial crime thriller novel about a relationship that isn’t what it seems. This can be any kind of relationship – romantic partners, neighbours, friends, work colleagues, family members – and the setting is up to you. We want a story with a killer hook that captures our attention and makes us desperate to read on.
Can you write a gripping emotional thriller like Dorothy Koomson’s All My Lies Are True or a twisty plot like a Harlan Coben novel? Perhaps a domestic suspense thriller like the recent TV series The Undoing or Behind Her Eyes? Maybe an action-filled mystery such as Lupin or an engrossing page-turner like The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides? Or a chilling psychological thriller like Dreda Say Mitchell’s Spare Room or an addictive police procedural like Nadine Matheson’s The Jigsaw Man or Hideo Yokoyama’s Six Four?
Entrants must submit the first 3,000 words of their novel along with a synopsis (of no longer than 600 words) and a one-line pitch. The synopsis must include the full plot of the novel with details of the main characters and their journey through the book – don’t worry about spoilers as we want to get a full sense of where the book is going. The one-line pitch must sum up what your book is about as succinctly as you can; what’s the one thing that will make us want to pick up your book?
Here are a few good examples to give you an idea of what we’re looking for from your pitch:
– A family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it’s your house. And you didn’t sell it. (Our House by Louise Candlish)
– Two sisters on trial for murder. They accuse each other. Who do you believe? (Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh)
– Perfect families, perfect houses, perfect lives. It was always going to end in tears, but how did it end in murder? (Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty)
The submissions period will open on Friday 3rd September 2021 and entrants must submit by Friday 15th October 2021. You do not need to have completed your novel in order to enter as we’d like to encourage new writers to apply but shortlisted entrants will be asked to submit the full draft at a later date. We will announce the shortlist by Monday 13th December 2021 and the shortlisted entrants will be asked to submit the completed draft by Monday 4th April 2022.
Submissions will be read by readers from across Headline and the winner of the competition will be selected by a panel of Headline editors and book bloggers.
Headline was founded with a single promise at its heart: to publish the books people want to read.
Sometimes, the simplest ideas are best.
We’re proud to be the home of bestselling writers and award-winning authors and we continue to invest in exciting new talent to build long-lasting careers. Our diverse and celebrated list of authors includes Neil Gaiman, Victoria Hislop, Naomi Ishiguro, Dorothy Koomson, Simon Scarrow, Maggie O’Farrell, S. A. Cosby, Jasmine Guillory, Bolu Babalola and Jill Mansell.
How do I submit my work?
You’ll be guided through the submission process on the Submittable website
We will be judging submissions against the criteria for commercial fiction which we define as:
‘Commercial fiction’ is a publishing term for books which have broad appeal, are extremely accessible, and instantly engaging. Every commercial fiction novel has these three aspects:
1. A clear, well-paced plot.
2. A well-established main character (or multiple characters if it’s a split narrative) who general readers will connect with.
3. An accessible writing style which the general reader will understand.
This year the prize is focusing on crime thriller fiction so as well as the points above the submission must be regarded as one of the following genres: Detective or Spy Fiction, Legal Thriller, Mystery, Police Procedural, Action Thriller, Psychological Thriller or Domestic Suspense
If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.