Literary Blockbuster Challenge Offers $10,000 in Prizes

WRITERS. If you have written a literary novel that you believe could be wildly popular with readers, check out Inkubate’s Literary Blockbuster Challenge. The writers who submit the best attempts to merge literary and commercial fiction can receive $10,000 and access to top-level publishing executives.

Inkubate is a new online platform designed to provide a more efficient way for publishers to discover great new work. Qualified publishers and agents can search and browse portfolios of work uploaded by writers who are looking for publishers. Inkubate’s mission is to help level the playing field for writers and provide new ways for writers and publishers/agents to find each other.  Works uploaded by writers are visible only to vetted publishers and agents.

The Literary Blockbuster Challenge is open to any writer who completes a profile on Inkubate and submits at least one literary work. The judges are looking for thought-provoking literary novels that are also page-turners.

Your uploaded entry must be an original or self-published novel, identified as fiction, and flagged as an entry for the contest. Contestants must flag novels they wish to submit by March 31, 2013.

A list of 30 to 35 finalists will be announced on Inkubate on May 31, 2013. The manuscripts of the finalists will be submitted to the judges on June 8, 2013. Winners will be announced on Inkubate on July 31, 2013.

Ten entrants may qualify for one of three top prizes ($5,000, $2,500, and $1,000) or one of seven honorable mentions ($250). Random House, Harper Collins, Hachette Book Group, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and leading literary agencies have agreed to review the winning submissions

The judging panel includes:

  • Jane Smiley, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of “A Thousand Acres”
  • James W. Hall, retired Professor of Creative Writing at Florida International University and author of “Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century’s Biggest Bestsellers”
  • Larry Beinhart, author of “Wag the Dog” and “How to Write a Mystery”
  • Jennifer Clement, prize-winning novelist and poet and president of PEN Mexico
  • Martha Frankel, author of “Hats and Eyeglasses” and Executive Director of the Woodstock Writers Festival

The contest was inspired by the publication of James W. Hall’s “Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century’s Biggest Bestsellers.” In his analysis of 12 financially successful books, Hall identifies the literary devices that the authors used to keep readers hooked.

As writing-workshop leader Susan Sutliff Brown, Ph.D. points out in a presentation posted on the Inkubate blog, good writing alone won’t ensure commercial success: “We may adore Henry James, but we don’t drop everything to find out what happens next.” To achieve “blockbuster” status, a novel must appeal to the millions of people who may only read one or two novels a year.

“Commercial fiction could use a heavy infusion of craft,” says Brown. “Too often, bestselling genre fiction is hastily penned with poorly edited, superficial content and writing that can only be described as embarrassing.”

So, Inkubate co-founder Stacy Clark wonders: “Are you the writer who will bridge the long-standing gap between commercial and literary fiction and write something philosophically meaningful that readers will want to take to the beach?”



2012 Literary Blockbuster Challenge

Hit List: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century’s Biggest Bestsellers

Writing a Literary Blockbuster: Merge the Metaphysics of “Moby Dick” with the Action of “Jaws”

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