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Friday, 19 January 2007

Touchstone Fireside, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster, and www.gather.com are running a writing competition based on the popular Australian Idol show, according to a 16 January story in The New Zealand Herald. In the First Chapters Writing Competition, aspiring writers post their work on the Web site, where it is voted on by visitors. The Web site's own notice (posted 10 January) of the event is here.

The winner will be chosen by representatives from Simon & Schuster, Borders bookstores and gather.com, Touchstone Fireside Vice-President Mark Gompertz said.

The winner will receive US$5000 ($7200), a book contract with Touchstone Fireside and distribution by Borders.

Evidently, the organisers believe this will lead to a more marketable product. Presumably, this type of advance screening of material is deemed superior to the work of professional editors and readers.

"This is an experiment on a sort of needle-in-the-haystack approach," [Gompertz] added, noting that the voting public could outdo publishers who have picked "a lot of great stuff and a lot of dross".

On Gather.com the event was announced by member since August 2005 Tom Gerace. It seems as though in order to vote, you must join a group called firstchapters.gather.com. The administrator of the competition first joined on 9 January. So far, there are 62 pages of members of this group. Each page has 20 names on it. That's 1240 members in just over a week! So far, around 200 first chapters have been submitted.

Seems to me it is a mammoth task for any individual, to read all the submissions and vote on them. You wouldn't have much of a social life!

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