Win a publishing contract and a cash prize!
Sphere and Piatkus, two of Hachette UK’s leading commercial fiction imprints, are teaming up with The Tandem Collective to launch a new writing prize that champions underrepresented voices in the popular genres of crime and romance.
The award is in response to statistics illustrating a worrying lack of diversity within commercial fiction in particular. For example, according to Writing the Future (Spread the Word, 2015), 42% of the writers of colour surveyed published in literary fiction, 26% in YA, and just 4% in crime/thriller.
Launching on 26 November, the Fresh Ink award competition will give Black, Asian and minority ethnic writers the opportunity to win a publishing contract (including an advance payment and royalties) plus a bonus cash prize of £250.
For initial entries, we’re requesting 5,000 words plus a synopsis of approximately 500 words and an introductory letter. For the letter, we’d love to hear more about YOU and what inspired you to write and enter this competition.
To enter, simply email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure that you read Paragraph 18 of the Terms and Conditions.
The competition will run from 26 November 2020 and the deadline is 1 February 2021. A longlist will be announced after 16 February 2021, a shortlist after 2 April 2021 and two final winners will be selected by a panel of industry professionals and external judges on 5 June 2021.
To support the award, The Tandem Collective is coming on board to help spread the word. The Tandem Collective is a digital marketing consultancy, specialising in Instagram influencer campaigns and community engagement, co-founded by Naomi Bacon.
Longlist – we will run an event on Zoom, led by industry professionals, to demystify the industry. The event will include insider tips and advice, plus talks from all departments including design, marketing, sales, editorial, production and rights.
Those who are longlisted will then be asked to provide a further 5,000 words to continue their original text for the next stage.
Shortlist – will be invited for one-to-one sessions with an editor via Zoom.
Two Winners – we will select two winners who will each be offered a publishing contract with either Sphere or Piatkus and once agreed will receive a cash prize of £250 each.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 1st February 2021
Terms and conditions apply
Terms and Conditions for Sphere/Piatkus and The Tandem Collective Fresh Ink competition
- The prizes for this competition are an opportunity for two people to each have a book published by Sphere or Piatkus, imprints of Little, Brown Book Group Limited (‘LBBG’) with an additional Cash Prize of £250 and a publishing contract which would include an ‘Advance’ payment (as defined below). The prize will be awarded to a writer for the most compelling, page-turning, well-plotted, and exciting proposal for either an original, suspenseful crime novel or an original romance novel appropriate to either the Sphere or Piatkus list (the ‘Criteria’), as further described below. Sphere encompasses all genres of popular fiction, including crime and thriller, women’s fiction, historical fiction and general fiction. Authors include Mark Billingham, Jacob Ross, Jenny Colgan, Val McDermid, Debbie Macomber, Clare Mackintosh, Carole Matthews, Ant Middleton, J.K. Rowling, Robert Galbraith and Nicholas Sparks. Piatkus Fiction publishes a wide variety of fiction. The list includes some of the biggest names in popular fiction including Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb, J.R. Ward, Charlaine Harris, Julia Quinn, Talia Hibbert, Christina Lauren, Sally Thorne, Kate Ellis, Christine Feehan and Jennifer Weiner.
- Entrants to the competition are required to submit a proposal for either a crime or romance novel that fulfils the Criteria consisting of (i) a 500 word synopsis of the plot of the novel, (ii) the first 5,000 words of the novel and an introductory letter describing yourself and what inspired you to write and to enter this competition (together the ‘Proposal’). The Proposal must be in English and must be double spaced.
- The entries will be judged on the quality of writing and storytelling, how well it fits the Criteria, and the potential based on the synopsis for a full-length novel that would fit with books published under either the Sphere or Piatkus imprint. A longlist of up to ten Proposals (the ‘Longlisted Proposals’) will be chosen by 16 February 2021 from entries received in accordance with these Terms and Conditions by editors from Sphere and Piatkus. The entrants who submitted the Longlisted Proposals (the ‘Longlisted Entrants’) will be invited to attend a seminar on Zoom or similar on The Publishing Industry to demystify how publishing works. The seminar will include talks on publicity, design, marketing, sales, production and editorial. At this stage, the Longlisted Entrants will be contacted and asked to provide by 15 March 2021 (the ‘Deadline’) a further 5,000 words, to continue on from their initial submission (the ‘Additional Material’), taking their overall submission to 10,000 words.
- A shortlist of up to six of the best proposals (the ‘Shortlisted Proposals’) will be chosen by the Longlist Judges from the original Proposals submitted by the Longlisted Entrants read together with the Additional Material and received by the Deadline and in accordance with these Terms and Conditions. They will be judged on the quality of writing and storytelling, how well it fits the Criteria, and the potential based on the synopsis for a full-length novel that would fit with books published under either the Sphere or Piatkus imprint. The Shortlisted Proposals will be chosen by 2 April 2021. The ‘Longlist Judges’ means and will comprise Rosanna Forte, Sphere Commissioning Editor, Sarah Murphy, Piatkus Assistant Commissioning Editor, Laura Vile, Senior Marketing Manager and two external judges.
- The entrants who submitted the Shortlisted Proposals (the ‘Shortlisted Entrants’)will each receive a one-to-one mentoring session with an editor from either Sphere or Piatkus on a date to be agreed within a specified window of time that will be notified to the Shortlisted Entrants (the ‘Window’). If a Shortlisted Entrant is unable to attend the meeting during the Window, then there will not be an alternative date available.
- Two winning entries will be chosen from the Shortlisted Entrants – one for the Sphere imprint list and the other for the Piatkus imprint list – by a second panel of six judges comprising The Tandem Collective’s Naomi Bacon, Sphere Publisher Lucy Malagoni, Piatkus Publisher Anna Boatman, LBBG’s Deputy Marketing Director, Gemma Shelley and two external judges (the ‘Shortlist Judges’). In the event of a tie, Gemma Shelley will have the casting vote. The two winning entries may be either in the genre of romance or crime and will be the ones that best meet the Criteria, have the best quality of storytelling and writing, and the most potential to be a full-length novel for either the Sphere or Piatkus imprint. The judges’ decision for the selection of the Longlisted Entrants, the Shortlisted Entrants and the Winners is final.
- The entrants who submit the winning Entries (the ‘Winners’) will, subject to Paragraphs 8 and 9 and once they sign the contract referred to in Paragraph 8 below, receive a £250 cash prize.
- The Winners will each be offered a publishing contract, such contract to be agreed between the Winner and LBBG. The contract will set out the terms and conditions relating to publication of the book including but not limited to an advance to be paid against royalties (‘Advance’), the royalty percentages, details of the rights to be granted and other provisions relating to delivery and production of the book. The Winner will be required to grant all rights in all languages throughout the world. In the event that no agreement is reached between a Winner and LBBG, LBBG will be at liberty to consider and select another of the Shortlisted Entrants to be a Winner. The new Winner and not the original Winner will then receive the cash prize of £250. The original Winner may not in such a case refer to themselves as the winner of the prize for this competition.
- If a suitable entry or entries that meet all the criteria set out above cannot be found, LBBG reserves the right to (i) not select any Longlisted or Shortlisted Entrants or (ii) to not select any Winner from the Shortlisted Proposals or (iii) to only select one Winner for the imprint of its choice. In the event that there are Shortlisted Entrants selected but no Winner is found, the Judges will select the most promising of the Shortlisted Proposals and the entrant who submitted that Proposal will be awarded £250.
- By submitting their Proposal, the entrant undertakes and warrants that the Proposal consists of their own original work and will not infringe the intellectual property rights of anyone. If a third party’s material is used such as lyrics of a song, the entrant will secure the necessary permission and will provide it to LBBG on request. The entrant further warrants that the work will not contain any material which is defamatory, private or confidential or which is unlawful in any way. Any entry in breach of this clause will be disqualified from being considered for the competition at any stage.
- Entries must be submitted by sending the Proposal by email to email@example.com (please see Paragraph 18 below). Entries may only be submitted between 12:01am GMT on 25 November 2020 and 11.59pm GMT on 1 February 2021. Any entries received outside these specified times and dates and any entries that do not meet the requirements of these Terms and Conditions will not be eligible for entry to the competition.
- The names of the Winners will be announced on 5 June 2021 on the LBBG website and on The Tandem Collective website. They will be informed via email. Their names may also be publicised in other media or on social media sites. The names of the Longlisted Entrants and the Shortlisted Entrants may also be published on the LBBG website and on The Tandem Collective website.
- As the nature of this award is to diversify our publishing list, this competition is open to those who are Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority. Entrants must be aged 18 or over, resident in the United Kingdom and must not have an agent or have had any book previously published by a publisher or self-published in whole or in part in any format or be under a contract to have their work published. The competition is not open to employees of LBBG or The Tandem Collective, their families, or to anyone professionally connected to the competition or to the judges either themselves or through their families.
- An entrant may only submit one entry. Further entries will be disqualified. Entries will not be accepted via agents, third parties or in bulk.
- LBBG is not responsible for contacting or responding to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries that are lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed.
- LBBG reserves the right to (i) not select any Longlisted or Shortlisted Entrants; (ii) not select any Winners, (iii) only select one Winner, (iv) cancel the competition and (v) to alter the details of the prizes or judging panels without notice. No cash alternative or other alternatives to the Prize will be provided.
- The names and email addresses of entrants as well as the any personal data in the introductory letter (together ‘Information’) will be used by LBBG (who is the Data Controller) for the purposes of this competition, including without limitation for the purpose of judging the entries, arranging and delivering the talk and the mentoring and discussing the contract with the Winners, and used in accordance with these Terms and Conditions and in accordance with its Privacy Notice which can be found here https://www.littlebrown.co.uk/Information/Privacy.page. The Information will be deleted within six months after the announcement of the Winners.
- When submitting by email the entrant must read these terms and conditions and the Privacy Notice (see Paragraph 17) and type at the top of their email ‘I have read the Terms and Conditions of the competition as well as the Privacy Notice referred to and consent to my personal data being processed in the manner stated in both documents.’ If this is not included your entry will be deleted.
- No purchase is necessary to enter the competition.
- By entering the competition, each entrant agrees to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
- These Terms and Conditions and any disputes or claims (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of these Terms and Conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England, whose courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction.
- This competition is being organised by Little, Brown Book Group Limited, Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0DZ.
Published with flair and passion, the Sphere fiction list encompasses all genres of popular fiction, including crime and thriller, women’s fiction, historical fiction and general fiction. We are proud to work with a number of award-winning Sunday Times, New York Times and international bestselling authors including Mark Billingham, Robert Bryndza, Jenny Colgan, Jenny Eclair, Judy Finnigan, Mark Greaney, Val McDermid, Debbie Macomber, Clare Mackintosh, Carole Matthews, Ant Middleton, Louise Penny, J.K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, Jacob Ross and Nicholas Sparks.
We publish books for everyone, whether you’re are in search of thrills and chills, epic escapism, something to make you laugh, cry or think about the world in new ways, you’ll find a book you want to read at Sphere.
Piatkus Fiction publishes a wide variety of fiction, primarily by and for women. Our books range from thought-provoking women’s fiction such as Sunday Times bestselling author Lisa Ballantyne and New York Times bestselling debut Emma Rous, to romance of all shapes and sizes, to crime fiction, fantasy and paranormal fiction. Our list includes some of the biggest names in popular fiction including Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb, J.R. Ward, Charlaine Harris, Julia Quinn, Talia Hibbert, Christina Lauren, Sally Thorne, Kate Ellis, Christine Feehan and Jennifer Weiner. We pride ourselves in creating lasting brands for our authors, many of whom have published with us for over twenty years, and in building worlds readers are delighted to escape to, time and time again. In 2019 we were thrilled to be shortlisted, alongside our Non-Fiction counterparts, for Imprint of the Year at the British Book Awards.
‘It’s vitally important that our publishing reflects the world and speaks to all readers. I am so proud to be a part of this award, where we are opening our doors widely for writers from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds to share their stories with us, as well as having the opportunity to give valuable insight into the world of publishing and support for aspiring writers. I can’t wait to discover a shining new star of the future’
‘Commercial fiction is supposed to be the genre that most aims to reach all readers, everywhere, and yet it’s often the fiction genre that offers the least diversity, with a lower percentage of authors of colour published in the UK than within literary fiction or YA fiction. I’m very glad to be part of this award, where we are not only looking to discover and publish brand new bestselling authors from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, but to broaden our range of submissions, and offer mentoring and information about the publishing process to new writers. I’m so looking forward to reading the entries, and thank you in advance to everyone who chooses to share their stories with us!’
‘I’ve worked in the publishing industry for over 15 years and the lack of diversity has always been troubling. As a publisher we need to reflect the world, the whole world and all voices. Since the #BlackLivesMatter movement I’ve been personally compelled to do more and so I suggested this award. It’s not enough to do nothing. We all need to do more to make a change.’
‘We as a team feel absolutely honoured to have been asked to partner with Sphere and Piaktus on the Fresh Ink award and we know that our community will be thrilled to see the efforts taken by the publisher to address the shocking lack of diversity within the commercial publishing world. As a company, we endeavour to create campaigns that are representative of everyone within our community and the ethos of the Fresh Ink award aligns entirely with this aim. We can’t wait to see the submissions!’
Essentially, at every stage of this Award we’re judging it 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:
- A clear, well-paced plot dominated by external events. This doesn’t necessarily mean car chases or explosions – it could be a break-up, a job offer, a journey.
- A well-established main character (or multiple characters if it’s a split narrative) who general readers will connect with
- An accessible writing style which the general reader will understand
Here are some examples of commercial fiction:
Examples of commercial crime and thriller novels: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, Blue Moon by Lee Child, The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, No Mercy by Martina Cole and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
Examples of romantic commercial novels: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, A Springtime Affair by Katie Fforde and The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
Stage One (Entry Level)
For initial entries, we’re requesting 5,000 words plus a synopsis of approximately 500 words and an introductory letter.
For the letter, we’d love to hear more about YOU and what inspired you to write and enter this competition.
Stage Two (Longlist)
If you’ve been shortlisted then we would only require that you submit a further 5,000 words to your text taking the total word count to 10,000.
Stage Three (Shortlist)
At the shortlist stage, we would require the FINAL submission of your novel for the award, totalling 25,000 words.
Please note an average novel is between 80-90k words. For this award we will select a winner based on 25k words with a view to receiving the final word count according to the contract deadline. This will be explained in full throughout each stage.
We look forward to hearing from you!