Sapere Books is looking for historical fiction writers to enter a competition with the chance to win a five-book publishing contract.
To enter, choose one of the briefs listed below and write up a full synopsis (no more than 2,000 words) and draft the first three chapters of the first book in the series (this should be 10,000-20,000 words in total). As the prize will be a contract for a five-book series (full length novels from 70,000-100,000 words), we would also welcome ideas and brief outlines for the next four books in the series.
This competition is open to debut and unpublished writers as well as established authors and ghost-writers. Let us know any information on your writing history to date, including any books traditionally or self-published, any books drafted and any projects you are currently working on.
We are looking to hopefully award prizes to one writer for each brief and we want to find writers with whom we can establish a long-term partnership, who can write to a brief, and who are keen to work on series rather than singular novels.
Please let us know if you are a writer currently underrepresented in publishing, including writers of colour, LGBTQ+ and low-income writers, as we value diversity in publishing.
The competition is free to enter and open to writers from all over the world.
Closing Date: December 31st, 2021
BRIEF ONE: The Jane Austen Detective Series
Series arc: Jane Austen is developing her career as a writer, but at the same time she becomes involved in local crimes and earns a reputation as an amateur detective. Each book will focus on a different murder/crime case.
1795. Austen is completing the draft of her early novel, Lady Susan. She meets Tom Lefroy who she becomes attached to. At the end of the novel his family intervene and Tom is sent away.
Jane is at a ball with her sister, Cassandra, and the rest of her family when a young woman who Jane knows is discovered dead (poisoned? stabbed?). Jane carries her writer’s notebooks everywhere with her and immediately starts to record her observations on everyone present that evening. Gossip travels through the neighbourhood and Jane and Cassandra discuss potential suspects. With the mystery hitting a dead end in official circles, Jane must use her contacts to solve the mystery and prove the killer guilty.
BRIEF TWO: WWII Aviation Thrillers
Series arc: A young man joins the RAF in 1940. The series will follow him through plenty of close shaves as he survives major aviation battles in the war. Each novel will focus on one major battle.
1940. The man has volunteered to join the RAF. After training is completed, he is thrown into action with his squadron. He develops strong bonds with his fellow soldiers and is devastated when some of those close to him die. He experiences trouble with figures of authority and only saves himself – and some of his comrades – at the end of the novel by disobeying orders. The novel culminates in him fighting in one of the major battles of 1941.
BRIEF THREE: The Tudor Maid Diaries
Series arc: A young woman at the Tudor court becomes a lady’s maid to Henry VIII’s queens throughout his reign. Each book will cover the story of the successive queens through the maid’s eyes.
The woman narrating the series is old now and reflecting on her life at court. She thinks back to her first experiences at court. She was brought to Henry’s court part way through Catherine of Aragon’s queenship. She becomes a confidante to the queen and observes the trials Catherine experiences in the latter days of her reign. The protagonist must juggle her loyalties as it becomes clear that Katherine is falling out of favour and Anne Boleyn is on the rise.
BRIEF FOUR: Age of Sail Series
Series arc: A young man has his first adventures on the high seas and eventually works his way up to captain of a ship. Each book will span a similar time period and will end with a battle. Ideally the series will span from the American Wars of Independence to the Napoleonic Wars.
A young English man joins the crew of a ship during the American Wars of Independence. There are conflicts and strong friendships built on board and anticipation builds as they sail closer to the action. The novel will end with a major battle. The series can either focus on a fictional character or follow a real historical figure, such as John Paul Jones.
The series could alternatively be written from an American standpoint, perhaps following the career of Joshua Barney.
BRIEF FIVE: Borgias/Medici Crime Series
Series arc: The protagonist or a crime-solving male/female duo solve mysteries in Italy at the time of Borgia and Medici families
Rodrigo de Borgia is head of the Catholic Church as Pope Alexander VI.
1493. A prominent nobleman is killed and there are rumours of an assassination attempt on the Pope. The protagonist (someone serving the Pope? Another religious figure? A woman serving in the Borgia household?) starts to make connections that others are not seeing – possibly they overhear something incriminating. More deaths follow and the protagonist (or duo) must unravel the mystery and apprehend the killer.
BRIEF SIX: Ancient Rome Historical Thrillers
Series arc: The series will follow a legionary in Ancient Rome through various campaigns. He will rise through the ranks to become a centurion and confidante to those in power. Each book will focus on a major military campaign.
A young man is drafted into the Roman army as a legionary. He struggles at first but becomes more confident and eventually proves his worth as a soldier to himself and to others around him. The first book will cover his early experiences and his first major battle.
Sapere Books reserves the right not to award the prize if we cannot find an entry of sufficient standard.