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Are you America’s next author?

eBookMall.com has launched the first annual “America’s Next Author” competition, one that’s modeled after the popular “American Idol.”

In the search for new talent, the digital book retailer is reinventing the standard writing contest. Readers judge entries even before the official jury, and authors will get valuable feedback about their writing.

“This is not your average writing contest. In most writing contests, authors are left in the dark without ever knowing what other people entered or why they didn’t win,” said Martijn Leenders, managing director of eBookMall.com. “We wanted to change all that and make our writing contest a transparent and social experience.”

America’s Next Author is now accepting entries for the world’s first social writing contest. Unlike standard writing contests, the winning story will be chosen based on votes from fans and readers. Entering the contest is free, and the grand prize is $5,000. Contestants can get started here.

The competition includes eight nomination rounds in which the top-ranked author of each week will be nominated for the finals. Authors can join during any week of the competition, but joining sooner will increase their chances of winning. In this open system, even if an author’s story doesn’t get nominated during an initial round, it will remain in the competition until the final nomination round.

In addition to being judged by visitors, stories will be read by a panel of experienced professionals from the publishing industry who will be overseeing the contest. These judges will read entries and provide feedback to authors. They will also nominate four additional wildcard authors, adding them into the final rounds of competition.

“Getting feedback from the judges and readers will be a great learning opportunity for new authors. On top of that, while contestants are gathering votes online, they will also be creating worldwide exposure for themselves, which will be a career boost whether they make it to the finals or not,” said Leenders.

As in all writing contests, well-written, engaging stories are essential, but America’s Next Author is different in one important way: contestants can influence their chances of winning by mobilizing their fans online. Encouraging friends and family to vote will be crucial to an author’s success.

To enter the contest, writers can sign up here and enter a short story between 2,500 and 5,000 words. Participants can begin entering stories on Sept. 13, 2012, and voting begins on Oct. 9, 2012. A unique aspect of this contest is that people can join during any state of the competition, which gives authors plenty of opportunity to participate in America’s Next Author even if they’ve missed the first deadline.

To see the complete official rules for America’s Next Author, click here.

eBookMall.com 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.

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