Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story Terms and Conditions

1. By applying to the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story competition, each applicant agrees to accept and be bound by these terms and conditions.  Applicants must also review the Penguin Privacy Policy which sets out how the Publisher may use the personal data of the Applicant during the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story Competition before submitting an application.  These terms and conditions and the Penguin Privacy Policy can be viewed at any time on the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story competition website located at: https://www.penguin.co.uk/company/publishers/michael-joseph/penguin-michael-joseph-christmas-love-story-.html

2. In addition to the parameters set out in term 3 below, applications to participate in the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story competition are open to writers aged 18 or over who are a resident of the UK or Republic of Ireland, except for the permanent employees (including their families) of the Publisher or associated companies within the Penguin Random House group.

3. Only one entry per person. No entrant may win more than one prize.

4. The Publisher does not charge any fee for applying to the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story competition.  The application window opens on Wednesday 23rd December 2020 and the closing date for the submission and receipt of applications is midnight on Sunday 14th February 2021.

5. Applicants must submit an application consisting of a pitch (the premise of the book), no longer than 200 words, and 1,000 words of their manuscript in the English language. All applications are to be submitted via email to Please email your application to christmaslovestorysubmissions@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk by midnight on 14th February 2021.

This submission will be for consideration in the first stage of judging. Should an applicant be successful in the first round and shortlisted for the second round, they will be required to submit a plot synopsis and more of their story for the second round as set out in Clause 14 below.

6. Applicants must submit all relevant application documents as set out in Clause 5 above and, if applicable, Clause 14 below.  

7. All applications must be the original work of the applicant and must be previously unpublished works of fiction in the genre of a Christmas love story. Writer applicants must not currently be represented by a literary agent or have previously written a novel published under a valid ISBN. The exceptions to this are for writer applicants who have either been published (i) as part of an anthology; (ii) by a non-for-profit publisher; (iii) over ten years ago; (iv) via self-publishing; and/or (v) published in digital/ e-book format only.

8. Applications received after the closing date will not be considered. The Publisher is not responsible for illegible, incomplete, delayed, corrupted, malfunctioning, unreadable or lost entries. Applicants should only supply copies of their work and should keep backups for their own files.

9. By applying for the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story competition, the applicant warrants that all information submitted as part of its application is true (with the exception of any fictional written submissions), current and complete.

10. All valid applications will be assessed by a judging panel made up of independent individuals with editorial expertise and members of the Michael Joseph editorial team. The panel will choose a shortlist of applicants who will be put through to the second, and final, round (details of which are set out in 14 below). In determining which applicants will be put forward to the second round and ultimately who will be selected as the winner, the panel will evaluate various aspects of the applicant’s submission including: the potential for the writing to become the basis of a publication, the quality of the writing, the originality of the concept behind the writing and the commerciality of the writing. 

11. The Publisher regrets that it will not be able to give feedback on individual entries.

12. Successful applicants being put forward into the second round will be notified by email the week commencing 16th March 2021. 

13. All decisions of the judging panel in the first and second (final) round are final and not subject to appeal.

14. Successful shortlisted applicants selected for the second round will be invited to submit a plot synopsis (mapping out the story of the book) of no more than 1,000 words (or one side of A4) along with an additional 2,000 words of their manuscript (for clarity, this is a further 2,000 words on top of the 1,000 words already submitted to enter the competition). This should be submitted by midnight on Sunday 18th April 2021.  

15. This round will also be assessed by a judging panel made up of independent individuals with editorial expertise, the Michael Joseph editorial team and Michael Joseph author, Phoebe Luckhurst. The panel will then select the winner. The successful applicant will be notified week commencing 17th May 2021.  The winner will be the entry that in the opinion of the judges displays the best quality of writing, the most original concept behind the writing and has the most commerciality.

16. All decisions of the panel are final and not subject to appeal.

17. The prize is the offer of a publishing contract with Michael Joseph, part of Penguin Books Limited  (subject to the terms of Clause 23 below) in respect of the work to which the winning entry relates.  The Promoter will also provide the winner with reasonable assistance in finding a suitable literary agent to represent them. The Promoter cannot however be held responsible if the winner does not find an agent to represent them, any representation would be subject to that agent’s sole discretion. 

18. The winner must claim their prize within 30 days of the promoter sending notification. If the prize is unclaimed after this time, it will lapse and the promoter reserves the right to offer the unclaimed prize to a substitute winner selected in accordance with these rules. 

19. None of the elements of this opportunity may be transferred by the successful applicant and no alternative (cash or otherwise) will be available or offered.

20. Notwithstanding anything set forth in these terms and conditions if, in the sole opinion of the Promoter, none of the entries (including that of the winner) are of a sufficiently high standard to merit the winner’s prize, such prize shall not be awarded but shall instead be substituted with 10 books of the winner’s choice which are published in the UK by the Promoter.

21. By applying for this opportunity each applicant confirms that: (i) his/her/their submitted materials are their original, wholly-owned, creation and make no use of any third party materials or intellectual property rights; (ii) no deliberate attempt has been made to base any fictional characters in the written submissions upon any individual, living or dead; and (iii) the submitted materials contain nothing that is illegal, obscene, discriminatory or of a defamatory nature. Applicants will keep the Publisher harmless from any claims that their submitted materials infringe the personal or proprietary right of any other person. 

22. Other than those specified above, the promoter shall not be liable for any costs or expenses arising out of or in any way connected with this prize and does not accept any responsibility for any damage, loss or disappointment suffered by the winner as result of accepting this prize.

23. Publication of the winning entry is subject to the terms of Clause 20 above and is subject to the winner entering into a contract with Michael Joseph, part of Penguin Books Limited (Publisher).  This will afford an exclusive licence to the Publisher, permitting the editing, adapting, publishing and licensing of all or part of the novel in all editions, formats (including print and electronic), in all languages and territories globally and setting out all applicable financial details including a net advance and royalties which is to be mutually agreed between Publisher and winner on completion and acceptance by Publisher of the complete manuscript.  Should entrants not want to grant these rights they should not submit materials.  In the event an agreement cannot be reached, as regards the contract, within thirty days of the discussions commencing, the winner shall instead be awarded the substitute prize as set out in Clause 20 above. 

24. The copyright in any written submissions submitted by an applicant shall remain vested in the applicant. In consideration for the Publisher agreeing to consider the applicant for the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story competition, each applicant grants the Publisher a non-exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide licence to reproduce, distribute and/or make available the written submissions in whole or in part (i) as part of the adjudication processes and (ii) in promotional, marketing or reporting materials (whether print or electronic) relating to the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story competition. Notwithstanding anything set forth above, the Publisher reserves the right to choose the most appropriate format for the work on publication. 

25.  Events may occur that render the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story competition impossible to fulfil due to reasons beyond the control of the Publisher. Should those events occur the Publisher may, at its absolute discretion, vary, amend, suspend or cancel the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story competition and shall provide notice to all applicants of proposed variations, amendments, suspensions or cancellations.

26. Other than those specified above, the promoter shall not be liable for any costs or expenses arising out of or in any way connected with this prize and does not accept any responsibility for any damage, loss or disappointment suffered by the winner as result of accepting this prize.

27.  By entering this competition, all entrants consent to the use of their personal data by the Promoter for the purposes of running the competition as detailed in these terms and conditions.  Details on how we process the personal data of entrants can be found in our Privacy Policy (https://www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/PrivacyPolicy/)

28. We will make the winner’s name and county available on request to the following email address christmaslovestoryqueries@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk (please state the name of the competition in the subject heading 10 weeks after the closing date).  If you do not want your name and county to be made available in the event that you win, please let us know by emailing christmaslovestoryqueries@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk. Please note we are required to make the winner’s details available to the ASA if requested.

29. The Publisher may disqualify an applicant in the following circumstances: (i) the Publisher has reasonable grounds to believe the applicant’s application does not comply with these terms and conditions (ii) the Publisher has reasonable grounds to believe the actions of the applicant are fraudulent, dishonest, criminal or unjust to other applicants and (iii) the applicant fails to participate in any of the workshop or mentoring stages of the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story competition.

30. These terms and conditions are governed by the laws of England and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

31. The promoter’s contact details are: Penguin Books Limited, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA.

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