The Great Novel Contest: Now or Never

You have less than 72 hours to submit a novel to The Great Novel Contest 2015. The contestThe Great Novel Contest 2015 is better than ever this year, and with the entry fee reduced to $25, there’s no reason to let the January 31 deadline pass you by.

Find the contest rules and instructions for entering here. 

The winner of The Great Novel Contest 2015 will receive $1,000 and priority consideration from four publishers. The contest runner-up will receive $500 and consideration from the same four publishers. Ten finalists will receive recognition of their achievement, a letter of reccomendation for potential agents and publishers and a free copy of Columbus: Past, Present and Future. 

Learn more about the four participating publishers below:

Columbus Press is an independent publisher of exceptional fiction and narrative non-fiction.

“One of the advantages of small or mid-size press is that an author can find someone that’s really a good fit. Your book doesn’t just make sense on a spreadsheet, but it’s something the publisher can really get excited about and roll with month after month.”

-Brad Pauquette, Publisher, Columbus Press

Elephant Rock Books is publisher of handsome books, quality fiction and nonfiction that you won’t forget.

“It’s a cliché, but those first few pages should leap off the page. Editors read so many manuscripts, we’re a jaded bunch. That said, I open each submission hoping it is the best book ever written. It’s why I got into this business.”

-Jotham Burrello, Publisher, Elephant Rock Books

Raw Dog Screaming Press is dedicated to putting into print the highest quality literature from the fringe. 

“I start getting excited when I read a page or two, and this is going to sound a little weird, but when the sentences are smooth, not awkward, and the story and the style are working together.”

-Jennifer Barnes, Publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press

PageSpring Publishing is an independent book publisher specializing in high-quality novels for adults and younger readers. 

“Before we were ever editors or publishers, we were readers. You know that feeling when you pick up a book and find you just have to keep turning pages? Or you identify so fully with a character that you’d swear she was real? As a reader, there’s nothing better than finding a book that speaks to you that way. It’s intensely gratifying when we’re able to give that experience to a fellow reader.”

– Rebecca Seum, Publisher, PageSpring Publishing

What’s the holdup? Submit your novel to The Great Novel Contest before it’s too late. Click here for contest rules and instructions for entering.

May the best manuscript win!

Publisher Spotlight: Raw Dog Screaming Press Author Matt Betts

The Great Novel Contest 2015We recently corresponded with Matt Betts, author of Odd Men Out to learn about his experience working with Raw Dog Screaming Press. As one of the four publishers collaborating on The Great Novel Contest, we were excited to hear more about this independent press from an author’s perspective.

Find the instructions for submitting your manuscript here.

Tell me about your experience working with Raw Dog Screaming Press. Why would you recommend RDSP to other authors?

The editors and owners of Raw Dog Screaming Press and Dog Star Books have a great eye for stories and how to improve them. They have a pretty wide array of genres that can fit well into their various lines, so they can really pick and choose what stories they want to take on. I think I would recommend them to other authors because they are big enough and experienced enough to really be able to get books out there in front of readers, but they’re still small enough to really be able to get to know and support each of their authors. They’re constantly out there at cons and events, selling books, meeting readers and getting their name out there. RDSP’s John Edward Lawson and Jennifer Barnes have been enormously kind to me and amazingly supportive of my work.

What’s your favorite part about working with RDSP?

RDSP can be a lot of fun to work with. They started a reader’s poll, where readers voted on their favorite titles from the publisher. After that, voting moved on to other rounds, and for 2013, Odd Men Out won the poll. It was really exciting. Part of the award was a nice trophy to put on my desk, but the other part was a belt. This was a real WWF-style humongous belt with a dog picture on the front and my name on the side. The belt gets shared each year with the new winner. I don’t always take it with me when I go to cons or events, but it’s really a conversation-starter when I do.

MattBettsRDSP really supports their authors and does whatever they can to get the word out on their releases. I feel like they have confidence in my work and I never feel lost in the shuffle of their catalog. I also think the authors themselves are very supportive and go out of their way to help promote each other. I’ve always felt like I could approach RDSP authors with questions, or ask them for advice. It’s a great group of talented and generous people.

Why did you choose to submit to RDSP?

It’s extremely important to do your research to find the right publisher when submitting your work, but it’s also important to make contacts and get your name out there. In fact, that’s how Odd Men Out found RDSP. I was slowly making my way through my list of agents and publishers I felt were right for the book. I wasn’t getting accepted, but I was getting notes from agents and publishers about what they liked and didn’t like. While I was working on some of their edits and suggestions, I heard from Heidi Ruby Miller.

I had met Heidi at a conference many years before. She and a number of other attendees at that conference really got me excited about writing, and also introduced me to writing speculative poetry. I stayed in touch with Heidi for years, but we hadn’t actually run into each other in person again. So, she knew I had a book and asked if she could take a look for RDSP’s new science fiction line, Dog Star Books. Since I knew and trusted Heidi, and I was already familiar with a number of RDSP authors, it was a no-brainer to send Odd Men Out to her. She read it, had great things to say about it, and they took it on as one of the titles that would launch Dog Star Books. It was a great honor to be one of their first titles.

How does it feel to be a Hoffer Award finalist? What words of encouragement do you have for other authors submitting to contests or awards like this?

It was a great surprise. I really was thrilled with the reviews Odd Men Out was getting, but I really didn’t think too much about the possibility of awards. It’s very exciting to be on that list of excellent books, and having that gold seal on the front of the book is wonderful. I certainly recommend that authors and their publishers look into awards. There are a number of them out there, and many are very specific and might fit a particular author’s situation. There are awards specifically for science fiction, for self-published books, for first-time authors, for residents of a particular state or area. The competition is pretty tough, but winners and finalists get a lot of extra attention and publicity. Check out their guidelines and see if they are free or require an entry fee, then weigh whether the return is worth it for your situation.

What advice do you have for writers?

You know, I’ve been giving the same advice to writers for a long time. Read. Read whatever you can get your hands on. Read outside your genre, or outside your comfort zone to see how/why a certain novel works. Maybe there’s a book out there that is wildly popular, but doesn’t sound that great to you. Read it. Find out why it’s on the bestseller list. That author must be doing something right, even if they aren’t your cup of tea. Better yet, figure out why a book doesn’t work. Is there a novel that’s getting killed in reviews? See if you can determine where they went wrong. What don’t you like about it? Read all you can in your genre to know the tropes and clichés so you can avoid and subvert them. Read. Read. Read.

I think my other advice for writers is to get involved in the writing community when you can. I was a member of a critique group for years and attended every week. That can be a big time commitment, and I had to scale it back eventually, but the things I learned from those critiques really helped my writing. Going to those meetings helped me learn to meet deadlines with my writing, among other things. Nearly everyone in that group was at the same sort of level with their writing, that is, we were all beginners. We learned the ins and outs of writing, as well as the business of publishing, together. It was a tremendous help.

Tell me about your novel, Odd Men Out. Where did the idea for a steampunk, zombie-filled, post-Civil War story stem from?

You know, there were a lot of things that contributed to Odd Men Out. It was really an homage to a number of my favorite things, and ultimately an effort to write a book mashing those things into one fun story. I’m a pop culture junkie, so that really contributed to the book. I was a big fan of watching old horror movies on television on the weekends when I was a kid. I watched Godzilla and other giant monsters that way. I loved the action and adventure of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. I enjoy zombie movies like Night of the Living Dead and TV shows like Firefly or Alias. My job, basically, was to put all of those together somehow. Simple enough, right? I just wanted to get the feel of the excitement of those shows. I wanted a good plot, good characters to root for and a fun setting. All of that eventually gelled into Odd Men Out.

This is your first published novel, do you plan to continue writing novels? What’s the next project you’re working on?

I have a few things coming up. This summer my next book, an Urban Fantasy called Indelible Ink, comes out. It’s also from Dog Star Books/RDSP. I’m excited about it, because it was so much fun to write. It’s a little scifi, action, UF, and horror mixed together. We’re looking at the edits and I know the cover is underway, so that one is pretty much done, at least as far as my involvement in the manuscript. I’ll get back to it closer to the release date to get the promotions going.

I’m writing a sequel to Odd Men Out, which should be published in 2016. It’s a continuation with the same characters pretty close to where Odd Men Out left off. It’s been fun to brainstorm where their story could and should go next, and the first several chapters have gone pretty well. There’s an outline for another Odd Men Out novel after that one that’s taking shape. I also have a few short stories I’m working on, with at least one of them featuring characters from Odd Men Out as well.

Interested in working with Raw Dog Screaming Press? Submit your manuscript to The Great Novel Contest before January 31, 2015. The grand prize winner and the runner-up will both receive priority consideration from RDSP, in addition to three other publishers. 

Find rules and instructions for entering The Great Novel Contest here.

Good luck! 

Publisher Spotlight: Columbus Press Author Samuel Snoek-Brown

As we hit the halfway point of The Great Novel Contest, we continue our spotlight The Great Novel Contest 2015series with a sit-down with Columbus Press author, Samuel Snoek-Brown. Sam is the author of Hagridden, which has been garnering a lot of great reviews lately.

Learn more about Hagridden here.

Columbus Press is one of four participating publishers in The Great Novel Contest 2015. The contest winner and runner-up will receive priority consideration from these four publishers, in addition to cash prizes.

Find rules and instructions for entering The Great Novel Contest here.

Sam shared some of his time to talk about working with Columbus Press, his experiences with the publishing industry, and what he’s been up to lately. He’s also got some helpful advice for anyone on the fence about entering The Great Novel Contest. Thanks, Sam!

What attracted you to Columbus Press initially?hagridden cover new

My agent is the one who found Columbus Press, but he ran presses by me before sending my novel anywhere. I was actually pretty excited by Columbus Press when he brought them to me, because I liked their balance of quirk and professionalism. Some small presses focus so much on the “independent” part that they go to some strange lengths to distinguish themselves, and they can sometimes privilege quirk over everything else. They’re weird for weird’s sake, which is fine, but it makes figuring out their business model difficult and you’re never quite sure what they’ll do for you professionally. Other presses are so concerned about being taken seriously as a business that they take all the fun out of their work, strip down everything to contracts and guidelines and marketing schemes. There’s so little artistry in that.

Columbus Press is absolutely a serious, professional business — they have ambitions, they have a plan, and they know how to articulate that. But they also have a banana as their freaking logo, and there’s an ease and conversationalism to their guidelines and their blog posts that make you feel like you’re dealing with human beings. That really appealed to me. It felt from the beginning like I’d found a place that would let me play and would play with me, but that also knew the rules of the business and could guide me through that, too.

What did you most appreciate about working with Columbus Press?

I’m going to put that in the present tense — what DO I appreciate — because that’s one of the things I actually do appreciate about Columbus Press: we’re still working together. Publishing Hagridden was not a one-time event for them; they didn’t just work with me until the book came out and then kick me into the world with a box of paperbacks and wish me luck. They continue to work with me, not only on promoting the work as it is but also on some of my nutty ideas for carrying the work further. (I’d say more, but irons are still in fires and I don’t want to give away too much just yet.)

In your experience, what’s unique about Columbus Press compared to other publishers you’re familiar with?

That “nutty ideas” thing is another thing I appreciate about Columbus Press, and something I think sets them apart from a lot of presses. They’re willing to do some exciting things you don’t normally see from presses big or small. For example, when it came time to do my launch party in Columbus, they organized a freaking city-wide game of tag! The event already exists — it’s called Journey to the End of the Night — and it’s nationwide, but Columbus Press had the brilliant idea to turn what is ordinarily just adults running around playing tag into a novel-themed chase based on the rougarou werewolf myth in my novel. And afterward, everyone enjoyed werewolf movies and bayou-themed drinks. It drew a huge crowd, drummed up a lot of interest in my book, and was a hell of a lot more fun than most release parties. I can’t wait to see what they come up with to promote their next book, whatever that might be!

Any advice you’d have for someone thinking of entering the contest? What have you learned or how have you benefited from contests during your career? 

Academics like me have to worry about our curriculum vitae, our academic résumé, and contest placements (if you can get them) look great on those. But even non-academic writers have to worry about the CV: it’s called their cover letter. If you can place in a contest — you don’t even have to win, just get shortlisted or make it to the finals — that lends you terrific credibility and makes it more likely that some future editor or publisher will give your work a stronger read. It’s no guarantee of anything — nothing is — but it absolutely does help.

And if you do win, that opens a lot of doors. When the early drafts of Hagridden received an Oregon Literary Fellowship from Oregon’s Literary Arts organization, it brought a lot of interest my way, from fellow writers and magazines and even a few agents. If something like that happens for you, know that it’s not something that sets you apart from other writers — it’s actually an invitation into a much larger literary community. It makes your writing world bigger.

But even if you don’t place in a contest, entering is a great experience. The stakes feel higher in a contest than in regular submissions (they’re not, usually, but they feel that way) so you tend to obsess a little more over the details. Is everything spelled correctly? Is your format right? Have you followed all the guidelines? A contest can train you to focus on the details the way you need to with ALL your submissions.

Which is really the only advice I have: treat the contest seriously, and submit like a professional. And if you don’t get anywhere with that contest, then — like a professional — revisit the work, give it another polish, and send it out again. And again. Because it’s all just a normal part of the writing and submitting process.

Also, what have you been working on lately, and what’s new with Hagridden?

I’ve been (slowly) working on a new novel. This one is also historical, this time set in Reconstruction-era Texas, with forays into Oklahoma, Arkansas, and northern Louisiana. It’s not a sequel to Hagridden, but Hagridden fans might like to know that there’s at least one character from that book who makes an appearance in the new one.

But that’s still very much in early draft stages.

In the meantime, the newest thing for Hagridden is that I’ve written a series of short stories featuring minor characters from the novel. Three of them have appeared in online publications this past fall — you can find links to them on my website.

If you’re interested in working with a small press like Columbus Press, entering The Great Novel Contest is a great way to get your manuscript into the hands of their editors. Learn more about how to submit a novel to The Great Novel Contest here

PageSpring Publishing from an Author’s Perspective

One week of The Great Novel Contest submission period down, three more to go! As the The Great Novel Contest 2015submissions keep rolling in, we’re thinking ahead to the prizes and awards. The winner goes home with $1,000 cash, the runner-up gets $500, and both receive public recognition for their accomplishment. The best part, however, is that both authors get priority consideration from four publishers.

Submit to The Great Novel Contest here!

One of these publishers is PageSpring Publishing, an independent press from Columbus which specializes in “high-quality novels for adults and young readers.” For a behind-the-scenes look at this publisher, we sat down with one of their authors. Suzanne Goldsmith, author of the novel Washashore, gave us the low-down on what it’s like to be a PageSpring author.

“It was an extremely good experience,” Goldsmith said. “The main thing that I really loved about working with PageSpring was working with my editor, Kathy Matthews, who gave incredibly detailed, close attention to my work.” She contrasted this experience with her experience publishing with a traditional press. “I remember the editorial process was basically my editor sending back my manuscript saying ‘cut it by 30% and you need to change it to the present tense.’ With PageSpring it was really different. Now, they didn’t make any of the changes for me. I had to do all that work myself. But I had long conversations with my editor about what’s working and what’s not.”

Goldsmith said these strong relationships were the most rewarding part of the process. “My editor had really good judgment and she had very close textual attention to the manuscript,” Goldsmith said. “I really enjoyed the relationship we had going back and forth.” She attributed this to the nature of small presses. “The upside of working with a small press is that personal attention and that great relationship with someone who loves your book and wants to help you make it the best that it can possibly be.”

suzanne author photo
Suzanne Goldsmith, author of Washashore

Goldsmith’s novel tells the story of a 14-year-old named Clementine, who spends the winter on the small island of Martha’s Vineyard. As an outsider, what locals call a “washashore,” Clem struggles to find her place — until she discovers a fallen bird and young boy named Daniel. Because of her novel’s focus on the conservation of the Vineyard’s osprey, the raptor that nearly went endangered in the 70s, Goldsmith won the Green Earth Book Award. She explained how this recognition affected her writing career. “Receiving the Green Earth Book Award was enormously encouraging to me as a writer, but it also means a lot for my book going forward. With many thousands of books published each year, readers have a lot of options. The award makes Washashore stand out and gives them a reason to choose it over other books that they might be considering. That little gold sticker is hard to argue with!”

But this award didn’t come waltzing through the door. Goldsmith searched for all the possible awards that she thought she had a shot at, gave the list to her publisher, and told them to submit her novel. Her advice to writers seeking recognition? Make your book known. She suggests putting your work out to the public and becoming active in your local writers’ scene. The more connections you make, the more likely you are to find people who share similar interests, who can provide the right venue for your work. As Goldsmith says, “I think the best advice I can give for writers, and what’s been most helpful to me, is to develop a writing community. To get involved in a critique group or to get alpha readers. To somehow find your peeps.” She meets with a writers’ group every week to receive feedback from people “who actually know what we’re going through.”

Amazingly, Goldsmith’s writers’ group led to the publication of her novel through PageSpring. One of the editors contacted her. “She knew the manuscript because she had been part of my writing network. She had looked at an earlier version and loved it.” Her writing community not only provided encouragement and inspiration, but gave her a lead into publishing her novel.

After about a year of editing, Washashore became a reality. “They came to press pretty quickly once it was all finished,” she explained, “That is another benefit of a small press. The editing process isn’t going to be any faster, but they can sometimes bring your book to market a lot more quickly.”

PageSpring proposed the idea of a teacher guide to foster discussion about environmental stewardship and character development. They put together a beautiful guide, which connects young readers to the important messages in her novel. “Their teacher guide was a benefit,” said Goldsmith. “I haven’t seen a lot of publishers put in this kind of care and attention.”

Who will PageSpring publish next? Submit to The Great Novel Contest 2015 and you have a chance at working with this independent press.

Check out the rules and guidelines and our Facebook page for more information on the contest.

Find out more about Suzanne Goldsmith and Washashore here.

Publisher Spotlight: Elephant Rock Books

Today’s post highlights Elephant Rock Books, one of our publishing partners for The Great ERB Logo GreenNovel Contest 2015. Not afraid to have a little fun, Elephant Rock describes itself “like Penguin Random House, minus the huge overhead, 60 percent market share, enormous backlist and German overlords.” We caught up with publisher Jotham Burrello to learn a little about the press and what it’s been up to recently.

ERB’s tagline is “Stories You Won’t Forget.” What catches your eye in a submission, and what’s new in your catalog that particularly excites you?

We have a small list because I only publish books I can support (read: market). Publishing is ultra-competitive. It’s a buyers’ market so in addition to good writing, professionalism is very important. When I sign a writer, I am signing a long term agreement with that person, so I want to work with writers who are professional and flexible and will work to make the book a critical and commercial success. Writers need to also understand revision is a partnership between author and editor.

Writers should read our books to get a sense of my sensibility; an engaging voice is paramount. It’s a cliché, but those first few pages should leap off the page. Editors read so many manuscripts, we’re a jaded bunch. That said, I open each submission hoping it is the best book ever written. It’s why I got into this business.

Currently we’re excited about our debut YA novel. It has earned national recognition because we put in a lot of work editing, designing and marketing. It is a case study in how a small indie can compete with the big boys. The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley, check it out.

What made you decide to be a participating publisher in CCC’s Great Novel Contest? Is this a relatively new form of outreach for ERB, or have you paired up with other contests before?

We have not partnered with a contest prior to the Great Novel Contest. We have run our own. The excitement and amount of quality work accumulated in a contest is a treat to read and consider. I expect the Great Novel readers will have a number of tough decisions to make reviewing manuscripts. And nothing beats calling up the winner with the good news. It’s like that Publishers Clearing House knock at the door, minus the jumbo check for one million bucks.

Could you talk a little about the significance of contests like this to independent publishers and emerging writers? How do they benefit (or do they) both sides of the business?

I find contests are a democratic way to generate, sort, and find the best submissions. They have been a strategy for publishers since the dawn of moveable type. They bypass agents and endless networking, and provide authors with direct access to publishers. They’re also great for publishers, because guidelines restrict submissions to be exactly what we’re looking to publish. And of course, they are terrific for debut authors. Publishers want to discover new voices; contests allow for such discoveries. This is what happened with our YA contest. And now Carnival is nominated for best YA debut of 2014.

For those discovering ERB for the first time, what are the most important things about your press you’d like them to walk away with? What’s on the horizon for Elephant Rock Books?

I want readers to walk away with a book. As a farmer friend recently noted, “Readers enjoy my social media, but they must exit through the gift shop to make this work.” Readers don’t care who published the book they love. Readers don’t browse by publisher and inspect the tiny logo on the spine of a book to decide what to read next. At ERB we have a small list, but our books are handsomely designed and carefully edited, and I hope readers appreciate the care we put into each work of art.

We’re dedicated to publishing contemporary literature for diverse audiences. Our interests are vast, and we like to collaborate, as we did with the Chicago Theater Collective 2nd Story on a book of essays. (With perhaps the greatest title ever, Briefly Knocked Unconscious By a Low-Flying Duck).Young adult literature was a category I had interest in. Another interest is finding a novel of the caliber of Jacob Appel’s The Biology of Luck. We’re also excited about new media forms and making ebooks really multimedia experiences beyond text on a screen. In 2014 we published the enhanced ebook The Writers’ e-Handbook. The book is only a hundred pages, but if readers followed all the in-text hyperlinks, videos and appendix resources, they would have years’ worth of reading material. We have two enhanced ebooks in production for 2015; as well as our second YA contest starting in May. In late 2015 I hope to track down a work of narrative nonfiction. It’s a form I’ve taught for many years, and I am eager to land a quality manuscript.

The future is tough to predict but I hope there is a place for indie publishers, and authors who, as James Baldwin said, want to change the world.

We’re thrilled to have Elephant Rock Books as a participating publisher in The Great Novel Contest 2015. The contest opens on January 1, 2015 and closes on January 31, 2015. Get your manuscript submission-ready now!

Find contest rules and instructions for entering here.

Publisher Spotlight: Columbus Press

As we get closer to the opening of the Great Novel Contest 2015, we’re posting a few Q&AsThe Great Novel Contest 2015 with this year’s participating publishers. This post comes courtesy of Columbus Press, which has had an important partnership with Columbus Creative Cooperative for a while now. Columbus Press founder Brad Pauquette (who also happens to serve as CCC director) answered a few of our questions about Columbus Press, The Great Novel Contest, and the publishing industry.

Edit: The Great Novel Contest is now open for submissions! Find instructions for entering here. 

What makes Columbus Press different from other small presses?

There’s a big (and smart) movement among most small presses to really capitalize on the press’s brand.  That’s not our style.  I want the published work to stand on its own, and I want the credit to go to the author.  I want to build strong authors who can be the face of their own brand, not the face of mine.

When we published Hagridden, for instance, I didn’t want it to be Columbus Press’s Hagridden, and then in small print somewhere, by Samuel Snoek-Brown.  I want it to be Samuel Snoek-Brown’s Hagridden, expertly produced and marketed by Columbus Press.  I think Sam’s earned that, and it’s how I would want to be treated.

Our collection is also too eclectic to push our brand hard.  We’re small enough that I have the freedom to publish whatever I think is cool at the time.  If you liked Hagridden, you may hate the book that we release next.  And vice versa.  We have to find a new market for every book we produce (which is a ton of work), but I think we get the advantage of being totally stoked about every project we publish.  It’s never the same old slog, we’re always experimenting with new campaigns and initiatives, and we’re always exploring new ground.

Browse all of the Columbus Press titles here.

Why is Columbus Press participating in The Great Novel Contest?

Obviously, I have a close relationship with Columbus Creative Cooperative, since I’m the director, which is a volunteer position I do in my spare time.  When we started The Great Novel Contest, it seemed natural and easy that I could support the group by offering the prize.  As the name of the contest implies, it’s been a great experience every year.

I’m excited to see new publishers entering the mix, though. I think it makes the contest that much stronger, and it’s an even better resource for authors.

One of the advantages of small or mid-size press is that an author can find someone that’s really a good fit.  Your book doesn’t just make sense on a spreadsheet, but it’s something the publisher can really get excited about and roll with month after month.  With the group of publishers participating this year, the winning authors will not only have an opportunity to work with a great business, but hopefully they’ll find some people that really match their style.   I’m looking forward to the opportunity to review two manuscripts, which I’m confident will be exceptional, and to make an offer to somebody that I think could really groove with my company.

And of course, like every year, I’m hoping the contest will expose new readers and authors to our brand, and you’ll pick up one of our great books like Hagridden or Seven in a Jeep.

Can authors submit to you directly if they don’t want to participate in the contest?

Absolutely! We accept unsolicited submissions year round.  Just make sure to follow the guidelines and instructions on our website.

But, you should be warned, we receive hundreds of unsolicited submissions every year, and we only choose one or two to work with.  So the odds are slim.  Not to sell the contest too hard, but if you win this thing, your manuscript will come straight to me, I’ll read the whole thing, and we’ll make a decision right away.  That’s a tremendous asset.

We turn down exceptional books from the slush pile every day, because we just don’t have the time and resources to produce at a faster schedule (and frankly, I don’t think we’d want to move any faster).  This is a legitimate opportunity to bypass all of that.

What is Columbus Press looking for right now?

Good question.  We’re always on the lookout for work that is exceptional, regardless of genre or audience.

Right now I’m in the mood for a book that’s really funny.  I mean laugh-out-loud Kurt Vonnegut funny.  I’ve had my eyes open for this one for a long time and haven’t found it yet.

Also, I admit, I’m a sucker for a fast thriller—a la Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Dan Brown—I love a good page turner.  I also like socially relevant science fiction, and I don’t find a lot of that in the market today.  Who’s filling Isaac Asimov’s shoes?

I don’t go for a lot of navel-gazing, but I’m also on the lookout for excellent literary fiction that moves.  Some of my favorite authors run from John Steinbeck to Cormac McCarthy.  That’s a huge open space, and I’d love to find a book that excites me.  Something that makes me think.  Something that won’t leave my mind, and I ponder while I’m doing the dishes or driving to work or trying to fall asleep.

I’ve often thought that I’d like to publish a book with a strong spiritual component, something like what Donald Miller writes.  But I have yet to see a manuscript that can really pull that off.

So the answer is we’re open to whatever.  We want books that excite us, the rest is up for grabs.

We’re thrilled to have Columbus Press as a participating publisher in The Great Novel Contest 2015. The contest opened on January 1, 2015 and closes on January 31, 2015. Submit your manuscript today!

Find the the contest rules and instructions for entering here.

Publisher Spotlight: PageSpring Publishing

As of January 1, The Great Novel Contest 2015 is officially open! It’s time to stop The Great Novel Contest 2015procrastinating, and submit your novel.

We’ve made some big changes to the contest this year. The winner of this year’s contest will receive $1,000 and priority consideration from four independent publishers. The runner up will receive $500 and priority consideration from the same publishers. We’ve also lowered the entry fee to $25.

Find the contest rules and instructions for entering here.

PageSpring Publishing is one of four participating publishers. If you are The Great Novel Contest grand prize winner, or the runner up, your manuscript will bypass the slush pile and go straight to the eyes of their editors.

We recently exchanged emails with Rebecca Seum from PageSpring Publishing to learn more about this participating publisher.

CCC: Tell me a little about PageSpring Publishing. Why were you founded, and when?

PS: We saw that there were very worthy manuscripts out there that weren’t getting published. Many publishers are wary of taking chances on first-time authors and many are only searching for the next breakout bestseller. Meanwhile, readers were hungry for quality books. We founded the company in 2012 with a mission to turn those manuscripts into books and bring them to readers.

CCC: I found this on your website: “We believe that the best part of reading is discovering a book that speaks to you, a book for which you will postpone dinner, or sleep, or even calling your mother…just to finish one more chapter.” Can you elaborate? How do you find your readers relate to the books you publish?

PS: Before we were ever editors or publishers, we were readers. You know that feeling when you pick up a book and find you just have to keep turning pages? Or you identify so fully with a character that you’d swear she was real? As a reader, there’s nothing better than finding a book that speaks to you that way. It’s intensely gratifying when we’re able to give that experience to a fellow reader.

CCC: What do you look for in a manuscript when you’re considering it for publication? What gets you excited about a book in the first few pages?

PS: Nothing speaks louder than characters. If a character is fully developed, his or her voice will come through in the first pages, and I’ll know there’s something there.

CCC: What’s your favorite thing about PageSpring?

PS: What ISN’T my favorite thing? With a smaller company, you get to have at least a part in all of the different aspects of the whole process, from discovering a gem in the slushpile, to working with authors to shape a manuscript that is almost but not quite there, to collaborating on cover design, to sending the book out into the world, and even determining the best way to bring it in front of readers. Could there be a better job in this world? I think not.

CCC: Do you have any advice for authors who are trying to get published? (Or for The Great Novel Contest hopefuls!)

PS: Writing a novel is hard. there are thousands of moving parts in a novel, and there are no shortcuts to getting them all to work together. The best advice I have for authors is to always consider the reader experience when crafting their work. If you view each of those parts through the lens of what it gives to the reader, you’ll ultimately end up with a satisfying book.

CCC: What are you working on currently that you’re excited about?

PS: We are very proud to have just released our tenth title, Tales from Suburbia: You Don’t Have to Be Crazy to Live Here, but It Helps. The book is in turn hilarious and heartwarming–just a purely enjoyable read. Coming up next, we’re very excited to be releasing our first sequel. Author Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa’s Hide nor Hair is a sequel to our cozy mystery New Math Is Murder.

We’re thrilled to have PageSpring as a participating publisher in The Great Novel Contest 2015. The contest closes on January 31, 2015. Submit your manuscript today!

Questions about The Great Novel Contest? Contact us.


Publisher Spotlight — Raw Dog Screaming Press

The 2015 Great Novel Contest is open for submissions! If you’re planning on submitting raw_dog_screaming_press_logoyour manuscript, now’s the time to put the finishing touches on your novel and submit it for consideration.

We’ve made some big changes to the contest this year. The winner of this year’s contest will receive $1,000 AND priority consideration from four independent publishers. The runner up will receive $500 and priority consideration from the same publishers. We’ve also lowered the entry fee to $25.

Learn more about The Great Novel Contest here.

Raw Dog Screaming Press is one of our four participating publishers. If you are The Great Novel Contest  grand prize winner, or the runner up, your manuscript will bypass the slush pile and go straight to the eyes of their editors. They are not open for submissions for this time, which means The Great Novel Contest winners will receive exclusive consideration from their editors.

We recently had a chat with Jennifer Barnes, founding editor at RDSP, to learn more about this non-traditional participating publisher.

Raw Dog Screaming Press was founded eleven years ago as an answer to a need for cross-genre publishers. “Back then, New York publishers weren’t considering cross-genre works and things that weren’t easily categorized. But these are the kinds of books I like to read, and we thought they should still be published,” Barnes said.

As the publishing industry changed over the years Raw Dog adapted and expanded their catalog of titles to incorporate a variety of genres. Their tagline says it best: “Raw Dog Screaming Press is dedicated to putting into print the highest quality literature from the fringe. If it’s dark, deviant, off-kilter and thought provoking we will sniff it out.”

Working closely with authors to achieve their vision and utilizing creative marketing tactics are part of what Barnes said she enjoys most about RDSP. Raw Dog’s repertoire of books include such notable authors as Ohio native Matt Betts, whose debut novel, Odd Men Out, has been nominated for the prestigious Eric Hoffer award.

Browse books published by Raw Dog Screaming Press here.

Barnes said she considers the story, but also the language on a sentence-to-sentence level when reading a submission. “I start getting excited when I read a page or two, and this is going to sound a little weird, but when the sentences are smooth, not awkward, and the story and the style are working together,” Barnes said.

We’re thrilled to have Raw Dog Screaming Press as a participating publisher in The Great Novel Contest 2015. The contest closes on January 31, 2015. Submit your manuscript today!

Stay tuned for publisher spotlights on each of the other three participating publishers.

Questions about The Great Novel Contest? Contact us.