October 1, 2007 / 10:06 PM / 10 years ago

Writers compete for online readers for book deal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Aspiring writers were on Monday challenged by two publishing groups to prove their readership appeal online to win a coveted publishing deal.

The Penguin Group said it was teaming up with Amazon.com and Hewlett-Packard to launch an international writing contest that aimed to search for the next great novel with the winner to be published by Penguin.

From Monday until November 5, authors from more than 20 countries with an English-language novel manuscript can submit their work to Amazon which will assign a group of online reviewers to evaluate excerpts online and invite customers to make comments and rank their favorites.

Russell Grandinetti, vice president of books for Amazon.com, said this was an opportunity for the online retailer’s customers to help discover a new novelist.

“This contest is also an opportunity for us to give back to the author community by enabling all aspiring novelists who enter the contest to self-publish on (Amazon unit) CreateSpace at no cost,” he said in a statement.

The contest will be conducted over six months with the 10 finalists selected by the final month and Amazon.com customers voting to choose the winner. The winner, to be announced on April 7, will receive a publishing contract with Penguin which includes a $25,000 advance.

Bookstore retailer Borders Group Inc. said it had also formed an alliance to find the next great crime writer online.

Borders, Court TV and Gather.com, a social networking site, are running a contest in conjunction with the second season of Court TV’s hit real-life series “Murder By the Book.”

From Monday, writers can submit mystery/crime manuscripts to be evaluated and voted on by a community of readers, writers and aspiring authors on Gather.com.

A panel of judges including authors David Baldacci, Sandra Brown and Harlan Coben will select the winner, to be announced on February 4, who will receive a publishing and distribution contract with Borders and $5,000 in advanced royalties.

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