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Markets & contests

Ready, set, write!

It’s time to put your talent on the line.

Here are four avenues that popped up in our mailbox:

Unboxed Books seeks submissions of novels or short story collections from all writers — from the unknown to the well-known and everyone in between. The winner will receive $5,000, and his or her book will be published in both print and digital formats in fall 2013. The entry fee is $35, and the deadline has been extended to Dec. 9 for writers who say they heard about the competition from us.

Dahlynn and Ken McKowen, who spent a decade as co-authors and editors for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, are searching for submissions for 30 books in a new anthology called Not Your Mother’s Book.

“Not Your Mother’s Book is an anthology series for adults, featuring ‘edgy’ stories on a variety of subjects ranging from your deepest secrets and wildest night out to menopause and fishing,” according to the creators.

“The series will not focus on death/dying, cry-your-eyes-out sad selections, but only hip, fun, modern and very-much-today type stories specifically selected for maximum education and entertainment,” they say.

Stories must be between 500 and 2,500 words. Click here for story submission guidelines, copyright and royalty information.

The Truth About the Fact: International Journal of Literary Nonfiction, based at Loyola Marymount University, is accepting literary nonfiction essay, memoir or commentary (1,000-5,000 words); literary nonfiction narrative poetry; and black-and-white art and photography.

“We’re interested in publishing true stories well told. Artful narratives that offer some insight into the human condition…while keeping us enraptured during the process of the telling,” according to the journal’s website.

Submission deadline is Dec. 31. Submit via email to If you have questions, email Joseph Demes ( or Michael Datcher at

The 2013 Great Southeast Book Festival has issued a call for entries to its competition honoring the best books of the late winter/spring season.

The Great Southeast Book Festival will consider published and unpublished works in fiction, non-fiction, biography/autobiography, how-to, compilations/anthologies, photography/art, children’s, cookbooks, poetry, spiritual, young adult, business/technology, unpublished manuscripts, wild card (anything goes!), nature/animals and regional lit.

The grand prize is $1,500 and a flight to the awards ceremony in March 2013. For more information about the competition, click here. Submission deadline is Feb. 25, 2013.

Are you America’s next author? 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 “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. 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.

Reflections of Erma