Could you write a bestseller?


It’s every novelist’s dream.


You’re in a bookshop. Perhaps you’re looking for a slab of holiday reading, something to keep you entertained while the kids are dive bombing the toddlers in the training pool and your partner is filling his boots at the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet.

It has to be something chunky enough to last you the holiday, not so heavy it takes you over the hand luggage limit and you have to leave behind your favourite sequined flip-flops.

The shop has the kind of hush libraries had before they became multi-media centres – you know, when they actually lent books. The air is heavy with the scent of blueberry muffins and artisan hot chocolate (because nowhere that sells books survives these digital days without a cafe tucked behind the cookery section).

Your eye is caught by the table displays, grids of glossy paperbacks shimmering like jewels washed up on golden sands. Your eye drifts over the prism of colours. You know which section is crime fiction without reading the blurb (lots of black, white and orange, sinister silhouettes/dank alleyways, lopsided close-ups of broken dolls/disembodied body parts) and which is the ‘chick-lit’ (pastel green/pink/blue, stylised drawings of cup cakes/stiletto heels and handbags).

Then you spot something familiar. Your heart leaps to your mouth, your pulse rolls a conga beat in your ears. Reaching out, your hand closes around a book, one that you know better than the pattern of moles on your partner’s back. One that was more painful to give birth to than your own melon headed twins.

Your book.

Not a book you own, a book your wrote. It’s there, on the bestsellers table beside men called Clive and Lee and James and women called Nora and Danielle and J.K.

Your baby rubbing shoulders with giants …


Okay, so I’m guessing if you follow my blog and have the time to read this post this has not happened to you. If you were Clive (Cussler), Lee (Child) or James (Patterson) you wouldn’t waste your time reading my ramblings, you’d be off adding to your millions by writing another book or getting someone else to write it (I’m looking at you, James!).

And if you were Nora (Roberts), Danielle (Steel) or J.K (if you don’t know I’m NOT going to tell you) I’d hope you would have got in touch and given me a helping hand by now, sister.

So assuming you’re not James et al but might like to be on that bestseller table in the future, here’s your chance.

The British newspaper The Daily Mail have joined with Penguin Random House to launch a debut novel competition.

The full terms and conditions (of which there are many) are  here, but the main thing many of you will need to know is that they accept any adult genre except sagas, sci-fi or fantasy. And as many of you I know write fantasy/YA and my nearest completed novel is Urban Fantasy, that rules us out. Bummer.

For those of you who do write in a qualifying genre, the closing date is Friday 13th July.

I’m guessing the prize of a £20,000 advance, publication and the services of a top literary agents will attract stiff competition, so polish that manuscript until it glistens my intrepid friends.

Good luck and fair sailing and if you’re successful and your name is shining from that bestseller table in a few year’s time, just remember who put you onto the competition in the first place. I’ll be here waiting.


Could you write a bestseller? Or is your genre much maligned and over looked by huge swathes of the book buying public? Do you even WANT to be the next J.K or is that anathema to you?

Be interesting to hear your thoughts.




31 thoughts on “Could you write a bestseller?

  1. Ha ha– my first thought when I read the title was, “Nope!” Well, not yet at least. Just being honest with myself. You paint a wonderful picture: I would LOVE to see my book out there for sale (and not just in the 80% off sale rack). But first things first: let’s see if I can get to a final draft of a *readable* book, and then I’ll work my way up! 🙂 This sounds like a great opportunity for people who are farther along than me (and who don’t write fantasy). I’m sure there will be other opportunities down the road that will be a better fit — optimism reigns!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I know, I thought the same thing! There would be something galling about getting your big break through that particular publication. I’m sure you are good enough, Penny, but whether you have anything polished enough just yet, only you can judge. Have you seen this? Might be worth a go


    1. I can’t imagine the pressure a ‘bestseller’ must be under – especially when it comes to writing that difficult second book! Moderate seller would be good though 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well hell… I’ve not published anything at all and I’m not a resident of the UK so that leaves me out.
    All that to say… what an excellent intro, Madame! Why no sci-fi indeed?


    1. I know! No sci-fi, no fanstasy – don’t these people realise how much these genres sell? Game of Thrones anyone? I’ve yet to properly finish anything and have only published short stories – could do with a bestseller too! Thank you Dale. Glad you enjoyed the intro

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Seriously… They do need to get with the programme!
        Ooohhh… at least you have published something!
        And… eventually, I will be reading a novel of yours…


      2. I know, ridiculous to filter stories based on genre – they could be missing out on brilliant stories. Maybe one day I’ll get published – fingers crossed! Thanks for the encouragement Dale


  3. That would have ruled JK out too 🙂 A story is a flaming story, made up, out of some writer’s head. A worthy boring story about a middle aged woman’s tormented relationship with a duster is no less made up than an out of this world fantasy. A lot less fun to read too 🙂


    1. Ha! Absolutely. I don’t know why they put a block on certain genres, though the Daily Mail is so conservative, I’m not surprised! Hopefully they’ll find someone wonderful though – and nothing to do with tormented middle class women 🙂


      1. For the last few months on the radio they’ve been banging on about the France Inter literary prize, jury made up of dozens of radio listener/reader volunteers. They had the ten shortlisted authors on ad nauseam being interviewed about their story as if we were talking about documentaries or ‘real’ events. Most of them sounded very French and obscure with very little plot but a lot of worthy depth and meaning. One of them stuck out because it actually had a story—a middle aged man without an interest to distract him when his wife dies and he takes early retirement, finds a stuffed emperor penguin in a flea market. This stuffed penguin becomes an obsession and sends him on a long an highly improbably journey to the pole (south or north, can’t remember but I think there were Innuit in it) where he finds self-fulfilment and a point to his existence. It didn’t win. Shame. I’d have liked to see the film.


      2. It sounds quirky and interesting. It’s a shame that some people seem to think a strong plot somehow debases ‘proper’ literature, that for something to be truly classed as literary art it has to meander around pointlessly before drawing to an inconclusive end. Hopefully the shortlisted Emperor penguin story will at least draw attention to the writer. Perhaps we’ll hear more from them in the future


      3. What I found interesting was that the author talked about the story, explaining what happens and why. The others talked in obscure language about concepts, what they wanted to show in the novel, the psychological depths they were plumbing. No mention of plot at all.


      4. As we say, more plot is not a bad thing. A writer must be able to explore the human condition, say some important things and still have a plot


      5. Yes, exactly. If an interviewer asks what your book is about and you reply in abstracts, it sounds as though it isn’t going to be a page-turner.


  4. Of course I want to write a bestseller! Just as well mine isn’t crime – I really hate the colour orange. Why orange on the cover, I wonder? Maybe orange sells things better. Sainsbury’s thinks so – look at their uniform and bags.

    Joking aside, thanks for sharing the opportunity.


    1. My pleasure Lynden. Not sure why or how these preconceived ideas about genre covers came about but I suppose now they’re so well entrenched they’re inescapable. Would a crime novel sell as well if it had a pastel pink cover? Possibly not 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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