eBookMall is spearheading a movement to reinvent the traditional writing contest. eBookMall's "America's Next Author" competition which began Monday, September 17 takes a play out of the American Idol playbook in that readers will be able to vote to advance their favorite submissions. It can be considered the book industry's answer to widely popular TV shows looking for music's next superstar.
"This is not your average writing contest," says eBookMall Managing Director Martijn Leenders. "In most writing contests, authors are left in the dark without ever knowing what other people entered or why they didn't win, and the general public is often left out of the equation all together. This contest will be transparent, a social experience that reveals what real people really want to read."
Writers have been submitting their stories at ebookmall.com/americasnextauthor since September 17th, and may continue to do so even today. Submissions must be between 2,500 and 5,000 words and feature only original material that has not been published anywhere else. Entering the contest is free and the grand prize is $5,000 and with that comes priceless exposure as an up-and-coming author. Two runners-up will receive $500.
As with traditional writing contests, eBookMall has been seeking submissions featuring well-written stories and engaging characters, but the competition is different in one very significant way: contestants can influence their chances of winning by mobilizing their fans through social media and word-of-mouth promotion. Encouraging friends, family, and fans to vote will be crucial to the winning author's success.
It is not just designed to be a simple popularity contest. A panel of experienced professionals from the publishing industry ("the jury") will oversee the competition. The jury will read entries and provide critical feedback to authors in a public forum. Like American Idol, this professional criticism may (or may not) impact voting. The jury will also award four wildcards, guaranteeing their preferred contestants will make it to the "finals" round of competition, and will choose the ultimate winner from three finalists in early December.
The contest is broken into the following four rounds:
Submission period: started September 17th (and continues) - During this period, authors submit their original short story. Submissions will not be immediately visible on the contest website, but authors will receive an email confirmation when their submission is accepted or rejected.
Nomination Round: From October 9th to November 27th: During the nomination rounds, the public will have access to submissions while authors can enhance their profile page to win over fans and improve their chances of nabbing a nomination. Aspiring writers can continue to submit stories during the nomination round, but writers who submit early will have more time to garner support and increase their ranking. Readers can provide written reviews or quick star-reviews.
eBookMall officials will rank authors using an algorithm that incorporates ten distinct factors, including number of reviews, result of reviews, social media mentions (Facebook, Twitter) and news articles about the author and/or story. Ranking will be visible on the contest website and updated regularly. At the end of the nomination rounds, the jury will also select four "wildcard" authors to advance to the finals.
Finals: December 5th -- December 11th - The final 12 nominees (eight from nomination rounds, four wildcards) will be positioned against each other in a bracket system. Readers can return to vote for their favorite author as he or she goes head to head with another nominee. The three candidates with the highest score from this round will make it into the final jury selection.
Jury Round (December 11th -- December 18th) The members of the jury will read and review works submitted by three finalists and decide who will be crowned America's Next Author. eBookMall will announce the grand prize winner and two runners-up on December 18, 2012.
Founded in 1999, eBookMall is a veteran in the growing e-book industry. The retailer offers digital books from the world's biggest publishers, including Random House, Simon & Schuster, and MacMillan. Books are available in PDF and ePub formats for Windows and Mac computers, Android tablets, dedicated eReaders, and mobile phones.
"America's Next Author" is eBookMall's first contest for aspiring writers. For more information, visit www.ebookmall.com.