Touchstone/Fireside, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, recently announced that it will publish the winning manuscript in the Gather.com First Chapters contest. Gather.com, a social networking site with 175,000 registered members, was founded in 2005. The publisher’s announcement comes less than two weeks after the Sobol Award, which offered $100,000 and publication by Touchstone, was cancelled because of an insufficient number of submissions. The Sobol Award had been the target of intense criticism for its entry fee ($85) and for guidelines stipulating that the contest sponsor—Sobol Literary Enterprises—would serve as the winner’s literary representative.
The First Chapters contest, which focuses on commercial fiction, has no entry fee and no representation requirement. The contest is open only to registered members of Gather.com, who may submit individual chapters of unpublished manuscripts. After site members vote on the submissions, five finalists will be evaluated by a panel of judges that includes Carolyn Reidy, the president of the Simon & Schuster adult publishing group; Touchstone publisher Mark Gompertz; and Borders chief executive George Jones. The winner will receive five thousand dollars from Gather.com and a standard Simon & Schuster publication contract with an advance of five thousand dollars.
For more information, visit the contest Web site.