Great opportunity for unpublished UK writers

Luke BitmeadIf you are an unpublished UK writer with a novel manuscript ready for submission, I’d strongly recommend that you check out the Luke Bitmead Bursary. Submissions for the 2012 contest are open from now until 3rd August. It’s for UK residents only.

This is the contest I entered back in 2008 and, to my amazement, won. Everything that’s happened in my career since then has been a result of entering that contest, so please give yourself a chance and go for it. I was the first winner, and since then three more people have got publishing contracts through the Bursary:

There’s no entry fee, and the winner gets a cash prize plus a publishing contract with Legend Press. If you have a novel ready, there really is nothing to lose.

For everyone else, I’d recommend visiting Luke’s website to find out more about Luke Bitmead, a talented writer who suffered from depression and committed suicide only a few months after his debut novel, White Summer, came out. His second, Heading South, was published posthumously, and a third, The Body is a Temple, which he actually wrote before White Summer but which was never published at the time, is being launched this week.

The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund was established by Luke’s mother to support young writers in getting published and to raise awareness of the issue of depression. The website is Luke’s original blog, maintained and added to since his death by his mother Elaine. I find it strange visiting the site, and seeing news of the Bursary’s current development mixed in with Luke’s own blog posts and photos from shortly before his death in 2006. I love that Elaine has left them up there for everyone to see, and hope that they always remain there, but it’s so sad and incomprehensible to see the optimism of book signings and reviews and to know that it was followed so swiftly by suicide.

But that’s the thing about depression, isn’t it? It can’t be easily explained or rationalised by people on the outside. That’s why any effort to understand it better is so important. If you can, please consider supporting the Memorial Fund either with a donation, or by buying one of Luke’s books, the royalties of which are donated to the fund.

Update: check out UK writer Tom Quigley’s beautiful response to this post and to Luke’s story here.

7 thoughts on “Great opportunity for unpublished UK writers

  1. It’s strange to visit the site of someone who is dead and even more so, I must admit, knowing the
    person has committed suicide.
    He sounds like another of those people who was just too far gone already. Nothing that happend to him, whether good or bad, could stop it.

    1. Hi Caroline,

      Yes, it is very strange, isn’t it? I think it will be something we see more and more, as people’s lives are lived more online. It must be hard for the surviving relatives to know what to do with a blog or website or Facebook profile, etc. It’s a memory of the person they loved, so difficult just to delete it and lose it forever. I like how Luke’s family have kept it but also made it into something that is used, not just left it as it was in 2006.

      I don’t really agree that nothing could have stopped it – I think depression and other types of mental illness are serious but treatable. In fact, Luke was being treated at the time, but the hospital released him in the middle of the night, on his own, in his pyjamas. If they’d kept him, or only released him into his family’s care, I think it would have been very different. More details here.

    1. Yes, that would be good! I like contests with no geographic restrictions, but the publishing industry still seems to be segmented by country. If I come across any similar ones you could enter, I’ll let you know!

  2. I have self published four books that local libraries were kind enough to buy. I have taken self publishing to the ultimate, I format, print, hand sew and bind. My final equipment installation is a trimming guillotine. My full time hobby is now printing and binding. I need to feed that hobby so I offer to produce (a small number) at cost price. It can be as little as £4 or £5 per book,depending on number of words just covering cost of laser toner and paper. I’m sure that there are a number of writers who would like to see their work in a hard cover book.
    I am eighty nine years old and comfortably off.

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