Conville & Walsh are delighted to announce Lucy Geering as the winner of our inaugural Word of Mouth Prize for an unpublished manuscript with her extraordinary novel PALUS.

After receiving over 1,000 submissions – all of which were read by the agents of Conville & Walsh – PALUS was chosen as the overall winner of the £1,000 Word of Mouth Prize.

PALUS is an exceptional debut – unique, graceful and utterly captivating. Set on a salt marsh on the east coast of England, PALUS tells the story of Jude, a young woman trying to reconnect with the world after the loss of her mother. But when her estranged aunt appears on the scene and looks to have eyes for her grieving father, Jude begins to suspect her aunt might have played a part in her mother’s death. Will Jude discover the truth? And if she does, will she wish that she hadn’t? Exploring the fracture of family and the misplacement of desire, PALUS exposes the ways in which the land we live in can both destroy and deliver us.

We were overwhelmed by the number of outstanding submissions that we received, and would especially like to congratulate Star Spider, whose brilliant YA novel PAST TENSE has been selected as runner-up. A big hand, too, to THE BLAZES by Swithun Cooper and THE CHILL MARK by Justine Taylor, whose wonderful novels were both strong contenders and were shortlisted for the prize.

The Word of Mouth Prize is now closed for submissions. However, we will post the details of the 2016 prize in the autumn, so watch this space…


At Conville & Walsh we are passionate about discovering new talent and launching debut authors, as well as nurturing the careers of the writers we represent. We’re very proud to be considered one of the most approachable and dynamic agencies in London, a reputation for which we’ve worked hard.

As an agency we always want writers to feel as though they can get their work right under the noses of our agents, which is why we are very excited to announce the inaugural Conville & Walsh Word of Mouth Prize.

The key to what the judges are seeking lies in the prize’s name: novels which linger long in the mind and which readers find themselves recommending to others. That’s an almost undefinable and seemingly magical quality which we nonetheless all recognise – a quality which gives rise to that immediate instinct to email or phone a friend, and say “You must, must read…”

We’re looking for fiction that is brilliantly written but still accessible, has depth but isn’t dense and is innovative but identifiable-with. We’d love to find novels with that must-read quality, which would be perfect for book club discussions. These are the kind of books that people just can’t stop talking about, that can become a word of mouth phenomenon, and which Conville & Walsh are known for representing.

Great examples of this kind of fiction represented by Conville & Walsh include: THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY by Rachel Joyce, THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS by M L Stedman, THE SHOCK OF THE FALL by Nathan Filer and BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S J Watson.


The judges for this year’s prize will be award-winning Conville & Walsh writer Matt Haig, author of THE HUMANS and forthcoming REASONS TO STAY ALIVE, Sheila O’Reilly who runs Dulwich Books (Independent Bookshop of the Year for the last two years running), two agents from Conville & Walsh, Susan Armstrong and Sophie Lambert, and our Joint Head of Translation Rights Alexandra McNicoll. David Llewelyn, who has been Conville & Walsh’s invaluable Reader for nearly a decade, will be our Honorary Chair.

What we’re looking for

  • A standout new voice in fiction.
  • Stories that we cannot put down – that’s absolutely crucial. Your novel should be original, gripping and unforgettable.
  • Novels that will start conversations; that will make readers want to discuss the characters and their stories.
  • These novels should appeal to a wide variety of readers, and be relatable in some way.
  • The novel can be any genre – contemporary, historical, suspense, etc.


  • The prize is open to both unpublished and previously published authors, but the work submitted must be unpublished by a publishing house (i.e. self-published work, or work from which an extract has been published in a literary magazine is fine).
  • We would like the work to be aimed at an adult readership, but would also be very happy to consider YA or crossover fiction. We won’t be able to consider any children’s fiction.
  • Entrants must be unagented. If you are offered representation after you have submitted your work please let us know immediately so that we can withdraw your entry from the prize.
  • The prize is open to writers from anywhere in the world, but the work must be written in English.
  • The work must be completed, or close to completion (a minimum of 30,000 words of the work should be already written).
  • Entrants may submit more than one novel, as long as each work fits the criteria outlined above.
  • We will welcome submissions from the 1st November 2014 until the 31st January 2015, after which we won’t be able to consider your work.

    How to submit

  • Please email us by the 31st of January 2015 at the latest, attaching your full manuscript (or a partial manuscript, with a minimum of 30,000 words written), as well as a synopsis and a covering letter.
  • We ask that your submission be a Word document, with a clear font (for example, Times New Roman or similar) and 1.5 or double-spaced.
  • The synopsis should clearly outline your vision for the book noting the key events and how the book concludes (no longer than two pages for this please).
  • The covering letter should include the following details: your name, the title of your novel, your email address and telephone number, your publication history (if any), and the genre of your work if applicable (e.g. romance, contemporary, suspense, general etc.).
  • When emailing your work we ask that your subject line read: FULL NAME/TITLE.
  • The email address to submit to is:
  • If you’re not sure about anything, please email us with the subject line ‘Query’ on and we’d be happy to clarify.

    Announcement and prize

    The team at Conville & Walsh will read absolutely everyone’s work, and from those we will select the novels we’re most excited about for our shortlist of approximately five writers. On 14th April 2015 Conville & Walsh will announce both the shortlist and the winner of the Word of Mouth Prize 2015.

    The winner will receive a cheque for £1,000 and, if mutually agreeable, representation by Conville & Walsh.

    No author who submits to our prize will be obliged to accept representation if it’s offered and, in turn, we will not be obliged to offer representation to any author who submits their work for the prize, including the winner (we want this to be a two-way relationship!). We will offer representation if we discover an author, or authors, whose writing we love.

    We look forward to reading your submission

    image @WordMouthPrize
    Word of Mouth Prize