Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project!

The Soon To Be Famous Blog

Jean Rabe and Lauren Eckhardt Author Talk, Manuscript Winner Video

Join our award-winning authors Jean Rabe and Lauren Eckhardt as they discuss their books, writing process, winning the 2019 contest, and so much more. We also named the winner of this year's Manuscript Contest!

This is a video replay of our April 22 webinar.

The Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project is for independent or self-published adult or YA fiction. Submit your book to be evaluated by a panel of librarians and potentially win prizes and opportunities to promote your book and much more. The contest opened Wednesday, April 1 and closes May 31, 2020. Details here.

2020 Illinois Author Project Now Accepting Submissions

Submit your indie published adult or YA novel today.

The Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project is now accepting submissions for our 2020 contest. The submission deadline closes May 31, 2020. 

This year, the winners of the contest will receive:

  • Statewide recognition by Illinois libraries as the top indie-published books in adult and young adult genres
  • $500 prize each for our two winners, one in each genre
  • Opportunities to promote your book(s) at Illinois public libraries
  • Inclusion in a full-page print spread in Library Journal
  • Print book sales to Illinois’ public libraries
  • Inclusion in Popup Picks, a mobile media curation service offered by Reaching Across Illinois Library System, for three months
  • Opportunity to compete with other Indie Author Project contest winners for the Indie Author of the Year award
  • Honors at the 2021 spring IAP reception
  • Opportunities to earn royalties through the IAP Select collection

Each book that is submitted to the contest must be:

  • Indie-published
  • In an adult fiction or young adult fiction genre
  • Written by an Illinois resident
  • Available in either ePUB or PDF file

The 2020 contest opens April 1 and the submission deadline is May 31, 2020.

2020 Manuscript Finalists Selected

Our judges have selected this year's finalists for our 2020 Manuscript Project. These three manuscripts (listed below in alphabetical order by author last name) now compete for the top prize in our final round of judging.

  • Strawberry Creek by Chris Gerrib
  • The Songbird Baby by Kate Robards
  • It’s Raining Men by Hollie Smurthwaite

Congratulations to these Illinois writers. Details about our Manuscript Project are found here.

State of Independence

Declare a "State of Independence" at your library and make room for new stories and fresh perspectives. Say goodbye to long hold lists, publisher embargoes, and the same old, same old. Now you can be part of a library-powered movement to bring the best Indie Authors to your readers.

2020 Manuscript Semi-finalists Announced

Our judges have completed their review of the 2020 Manuscript Project contest entries and we're excited to release the semi-finalists for this year. These manuscripts (listed below in alphabetical order by book title) now compete for the top three finalist spots in the next round of judging. Congratulations to these Illinois writers and their work.

  • Descending the Corporate Ladder by Toni Johnson
  • In Somnia by Colin Wilkie
  • It’s Raining Men by Hollie Smurthwaite
  • Noah’s Ark by Matt Holmes
  • Planet B by Wes Payton
  • Strawberry Creek by Chris Gerrib
  • The Ex Trail by Karyn Bowman
  • The Manse Calvo by Brian Budzynski
  • The Oklahoma Constants by Annie Reed
  • The Songbird Baby by Kate Robards

Details about our Manuscript Project are found here.

Catching up with Hollie Smurthwaite

Hollie Smurthwaite, our 2019 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Manuscript Project Winner, updates us on all that's happened with her novel, The Color of Trauma. She talks about the debut of her book's cover design and her experience working with an editor, both prizes she won as part of last year's Manuscript contest.

The 2020 Manuscript Project runs from November 2019 to January 2, 2020. Submit your work today.

2019 Adult Winner Jean Rabe

Meet Jean Rabe, the 2019 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project winner with her Adult fiction novel The Bone Shroud.

This interview took place moments after the winner announcement at this year's Illinois Library Association Conference.

2019 Young Adult Winner Lauren Eckhardt

Meet Lauren Eckhardt, the 2019 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project winner with her Young Adult fiction novel The Remedy Files: Illusion.

This interview took place moments after the winner announcement at this year's Illinois Library Association Conference.

2020 Manuscript Contest Now Accepting Submissions

Announcing our second annual Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Manuscript Project contest is now open.

Starting November 1, 2019 and continuing through January 2, 2020, we are accepting complete manuscripts of adult fiction in book length (50,000 to 100,000 words) from Illinois authors only. NEW this year: authors can submit their work directly. Visit the Manuscript Project page for details about this year's contest. And to start the submission process, visit the For Authors section of our website.

Catch up with last year's Manuscript Project contest winner, Hollie Smurthwaite, here.

Our 2019 Winners

We are excited to announce this year’s winners for the 2019 Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project. Our librarian judges from across Illinois scored the finalists to select our winners in our two categories (Adult and YA fiction).

Watch the video of the ceremony:

Adult Fiction Winner:

The Bone Shroud by Jean Rabe

Check out this newspaper article about Jean's win.

Young Adult Fiction Winner:

The Remedy Files: Illusion by Lauren Eckhardt

Be sure to read Lauren's musing on her win at her blog.