Thursday, January 18, 2007

American Idol for The Thinking Person

Take the concept of American Idol and apply it to the literary world and you end up with this:
Touchstone, an imprint of the publishers Simon & Schuster, yesterday launched First Chapters, a competition designed to find writing talent through the internet. It is inviting unpublished authors to submit the first three chapters of a manuscript to the scrutiny of the voting public. The winner's book will be published and distributed by Touchstone and the author will enjoy a $5,000 (£2,575) cash prize.

The contest is being staged by a social networking website - - that does for the middle-aged what MySpace does for teens. The site has 175,000 members, mostly over the age of 35, who discuss Iraq, parenting, cooking and the like.

Under the competition rules, entrants will have until March 15 to fully complete their manuscripts. The first chapters of all submitted work will be posted on the site and members will then be able to vote for up to 14 days.

The 15 most popular entries, together with five chosen by a panel comprising two Simon & Schuster executives and Tom Gerace, the founder of, will enter two further rounds of voting. The pool will be whittled down to five before the winner is picked.
Is this the start of a new trend in publishing, do you reckon, or just a gimmick to boost sales?

Only those of you resident in the US will be eligible to enter the contest, but you can check out the information and rules on

(More on the story in the New York Times)


Rauff said...

Thank god~! Finally something that will be good to society~

Anonymous said...

Great work, Sharon! Thanks for your continued efforts. I'll see you this Sat. at One Utama, MPH.


sympozium said...

Who will be Simon The Cow-Well though?

bibliobibuli said...

you can volunteer ...

and the kiran desai-write-alikes will be quivering with terror

Anonymous said...

Very smart. That way they ensure themselves that the book will be popular. There's absolutely no risk for them, and everything to gain.

Anonymous said...

And we have our first celebrity. An experimental, stream-of-consciousness entry titled “Strangers Rest” went straight to the bottom of the ratings this week. The writer, Mark Leach, doesn't even seem to mind too much. He posted this on his own entry: “If ‘First Chapters’ is truly an American Idol for writers, then I am the William Hung of the contest. ... Perhaps it is my destiny to do for fiction what Mr. Hung did for the Ricky Martin song ‘She Bangs’.” His entry is

Anonymous said...

Go Mark ! maybe you'll get a publishing contract because well, you never know what sells, I mean look at Hung, he got one and no one could accuse him of being any good :)