Prize-winning tips for local writers

Local literary agency Tibor Jones are offering £1,000 and representation to budding novelists. We caught up with Sophie Hignett, one of the judges of this year’s Tibor Jones Pageturner prize, to get some tips for any local writers wanting to enter.

How many entries did you have for your previous competitions?

We were absolutely thrilled with the number of entries for both the inaugural prize in 2011 and the last edition in 2013; both editions had over 500 entrants.

Anna Freeman won in 2013. What was the panel’s lasting impression of her novel?

The judges were unanimous in their decision that Anna Freeman’s novel The Fair Fight stood out on account of its vigorous storytelling, the dexterity of its language and the author’s ability to create characters that live and breathe. A superb act of imaginative ventriloquism.

What are your top tips for entering the competition?

Follow the rules – it makes the judges’ lives easier! If you have more than one book ready to submit, please choose your strongest and remember to spellcheck – it might seem like simple advice but you’d be surprised how few people do read through their submissions. Ultimately we are looking for stand-out new voices, writing that is distinctive, absorbing and above all, page-turning.

Fair Fight illustration3lo (1)If you have an idea for a story how can you tell if it’s a short story or a novel?

It’s completely the author’s prerogative and once you’ve started writing it will soon become clear.

What do you think is unique about novels? What do they allow the artist/writer to explore?

Anything & everything – a novel can be all encompassing…

Most writers have a day job. What’s your best advice for managing your time?

Don’t quit the day job! The best advice I have heard from writers is to either get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later in order to free up some time in your day – whichever it is, writing must become part of your daily routine. Another recommendation is to set a daily word limit. Although don’t be disheartened if you can’t stick to it – all authors get ‘writer’s block’ to some extent.

For wannabe novelists, what’s your best advice for getting published?

First of all you need a really good idea and then don’t give up on that idea or your writing. Get as many people to read your work as possible; impartial feedback is vital. Try to find an agent first – the best way to look for an agent is to look at other writers who you respect and find out who their agents are.

If you have a great novel and the money, is it worth self-publishing?

Self-publishing has lost its stigma and there’s nothing wrong with that because, at the end of the day, it’s all about telling stories, and if you have an opportunity for people to read your stories in whichever form or genre you’re telling them in that’s great. That’s what it’s about – having your work digested and read and commented on. As an author right now, you need to find a way of creating an audience for yourself and self-publishing is a great way to do this.

Do people actually read eBooks?

Yes, people do actually read eBooks, due to increased e-reader and tablet ownership, competitive pricing, and instantaneous purchasing opportunities. They’re giving print books a run for their money!

You can apply for the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize by emailing your submission to by 26th January 2015. Rules available at The Tibor Jones Guide to Writing will be available on Amazon Kindle Direct in 2015.


  1. This looks like such a fantastic prize and I think Tibor Jones are great to fund it! I’m an author and I especially like Sophie’s answer about self-publishing. I think a lot of the stigma around self-publishing is changing so quickly. I’ve just signed up as an author with Reedsy and I’m really excited about how it’s going to develop.

    I just wanted to share my experience and encourage all other young authors to go ahead and explore

    All the best of luck to this year’s applicants!

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