Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project!

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2021 Semi-finalists Announced

This year our Illinois authors submitted their works of Adult or Young Adult fiction to be considered for the 2021 Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project contest. After carefully reviewing these submissions, we are excited to announce our Semi-Finalists for the 2021 contest. 

Also, we're happy to announce the Semi-Finalists for the 2021 De la Página a la FamaCongratulations!

Adult Fiction Semi-finalists

In alphabetical order by author last name.
  • Long Live Rock, Leslie Baldacci (Chicago Public Library)
  • Flash Drive, Donald J. Bingle (St. Charles Public Library)
  • Northern Lights, Michael Chatlien (Zion-Benton Public Library)
  • Baby Moses, John Cowlin (Grayslake Area Public Library)
  • A Child Lost,  Michelle Cox (Grayslake Area Public Library)
  • Lies in High Places, Dana Killion (Chicago Public Library)
  • Glory Bishop, Deborah L. King (Fountaindale Public Library)
  • A Discerning Eye, Carol Orange (Chicago Public Library)
  • Demon's Bane, India Powers (Gail Borden Public Library)
  • BlowOut, Terri Reid (Lena Community District Library)
  • Loose Ends, Terri Reid (Lena Community District Library)
  • Songbird Baby, Kate Robards (Indian Prairie Public Library) Kate was our 2020 Manuscript Winner and earned semi-finalist status for her book as part of her prize award. She has since secured an agent and therefore asked that her entry be withdrawn from further judging. We wish Kate success with her novel.

Young Adult Fiction Semi-finalists

In alphabetical order by author last name.
  • Throw Away Sisters, Debbie Deutsch (Freeport Public Library)
  • Reverie, Zee Lacson (Grayslake Area Public Library)
  • The Keepers of the Light, Otto Schafer (Mackinaw District Public Library)
  • All Last Summer, Stephanie J. Scott (Aurora Public Library)
  • Crossing Lines, Melanie Weiss (Oak Park Public Library)

De la Página a la Fama Semi-finalists

In alphabetical order by author last name.
  • El Quetzal Azul - El Mundo Desde El Cielo, Dennis Avelar (Addison Public Library)
  • De Zorros y Erizos, Raul Dorantes, (Lincolnwood Public Library)
  • No Siempre Es Un Valle De LagrimasPacuala Herrera (Franklin Park Library)
  • Grandes Aventuras de un pequeño viajero, R. C. Ontiveros (Gail Borden Public Library)
  • Por Que Lo Hiciste Cain? Hijos Fuera de Control, Ferney Ramirez (Fountaindale Public Library)
  • No Quiero Ser Adolescente. Reflexiones de una adolescente desesperada, Ferney Ramirez (Fountaindale Public Library)
  • Proudly Bilingual/Orgullosamente Bilingüe, Araseli Rodriguez (Crystal Lake Public Library)

Congratulations to the authors listed above. We thank everyone who took the time to submit their work. And if you didn’t make it to this round this year, we encourage you to keep writing and editing. And perhaps, try again next year. 

Meet Our 2021 Manuscript Contest Winner

Once again, it is our pleasure to announce the winner for the 2021 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Manuscript Contest. Meet Annemarie Mannion who won for her unpublished work, Veritas. In this video, she talks about her writing. Don't miss her reaction when we tell her she won, too.

Annemarie's prizes include working with an editor and having a professional cover designed. More details about our Manuscript Contest can be found here. The next manuscript contest starts November 2021.

Congratulations Annemarie!

Catching up with Kate Robards

We check-in with our 2020 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Manuscript Winner, Kate Robards. In this video, she discusses her prizes including working with an editor and getting a professional cover design and what's next for her novel, The Songbird Baby.


For more information about Kate, visit her website.

Click here for details about the 2021 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Manuscript contest.

Launching Our Spanish Language Writing Competition

Join us for the De la Página a la Fama Contest Live Launch

Missed the live presentation? Watch the recording below or on Facebook.

De a Pagina a la Fama is a new contest opening on April 1, 2021 for Illinois indie authors of adult and young adult fiction in Spanish. All local authors, readers and Spanish-speakers are cordially invited to attend the live kick-off event on Tuesday, March 30 at 7 pm on Facebook Live. A panel of librarians and authors will discuss judging guidelines and criteria, steps for writers to submit their works and more:

• cash, royalties and recognition prizes
• why this contest is important for Latino writers, readers and our communities
• our favorite reads in Spanish - and participate with yours too!

“I am a woman, and I am a Latina. Those are the things that make my writing distinctive. Those are the things that give my writing power.” -- Sandra Cisneros

For the past eight years, the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project (STBF) has leveraged the power and credibility of libraries to identify and promote excellent indie-published authors.

De la Pagina a la Fama es un nuevo certamen para reconocer a los autores de Illinois que escriben novelas de ficción para adultos y jóvenes en español y que se inicia el 1 de abril de 2021. Unase al este evento en vivo donde compartiremos:

• Los requisitos y pasos para presentar una obra
• Los premios en efectivo, de regalías y reconocimiento
• Por qué este certamen es importante para los hispanohablantes y nuestras comunidades
• Nuestros libros preferidos en español, ¡y participa compartiendo los tuyos!

“Soy una mujer y soy latina. Esas cosas hacen que lo que escribo sea distintivo. Esas cosas me dan mi poder.” -- Sandra Cisneros

 A lo largo de los últimos ocho años, el proyecto Soon to Be Famous (STBF) ha partido del poder y la credibilidad de las bibliotecas del estado para identificar y promover la excelencia de autores que publican su obra de manera independiente.

Click here to submit.


2021 Manuscript Contest Finalists Announced

We are pleased to announce our finalists for the 2021 Manuscript Project. These top three manuscripts (listed below in alphabetical order by author last name) now compete during our final round of judging. Only one will win the top prize. Who will it be? Watch this blog in mid-April to learn this year's winner.

  • Veritas by Annemarie Mannion

  • The Daughter of Ruin by Danny Sain

  • The Lake House by Patti Sherry-Crews

Details about our Manuscript Project are found here.

2021 Manuscript Contest Semi-Finalists Announced

Once again, our judges have finished their initial review of the 2021 Manuscript Project submissions. We're excited to announce the entries that comprise our semi-finalists for this year's contest. These manuscripts (listed below in alphabetical order by author last name) move on to compete for the top three finalist spots in the next round of judging. Congratulations to these Illinois writers and their work.

  • They Left One Tree by Carl Armstrong

  • Flash Drive by Donald J. Bingle

  • Three's a Crowd by Ande Breunig

  • Eastville by Chris Gerrib

  • At First Sight by Deborah Kahn

  • Veritas by Annemarie Mannion

  • The Daughter of Ruin by Danny Sain

  • The Lake House by Patti Sherry-Crews

  • Westlanders by Meg White

Details about our Manuscript Project are found here.

From Imagination to Reality: Turning your story into a professional quality eBook

In this video presentation, you'll discover

  • Step-by-step guidance to take your work from first draft all the way to file formatting and cover design
  • How to submit your work to the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project, Indie Illinois and Indie Author Project Select
  • How to possibly earn royalties based on circulation for books selected for IAP Select

Excuse me, did you say royalties?

The amazing free tool that can lead authors through all these steps is

Anna Behm of RAILS and Lucy Tarabour of the Clarendon Hills Public Library recently introduced the wonders of in “How Your Library can be your Local Author’s Best Friend” through the ILA Noon Network webinar series.

Writers and librarians, watch this webinar and check out! Please help us spread the word among your fellow wordsmiths too.

Having trouble watching this video here? Use this link to watch video on YouTube directly.

Sponsored by Bibliolabs, creator of BiblioBoard, the Indie Author Project has taken the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project and run with it, sparking the creation of similar state-wide contests in 13 other states as well as one Canadian province. (Kudos to Ontario for being the Canadian pioneer!) Taking the project one step further, the Indie Author Project established an international contest choosing the Indie Author of the Year from the winners of all the state/province contests. For 2020, the winning author is Jacki Castle of Asheville, NC.

Will 2021’s winner be you? Take the first step—go to!

Our 2020 Winners

We are excited to announce this year’s winners for the 2020 Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project. Our librarian judges from across Illinois scored the finalists to select the authors, in two categories (Adult and YA fiction) below.

Adult Fiction Winner: The Color of Trauma, Hollie Smurthwaite

Young Adult Fiction Winner: The Secret Journal, God Stones Book 1, Otto Schafer

Pandemic Prose III: Writing in the time of COVID

Join us for the third installment of our series. Indie authors and Soon to Be Famous Manuscript contest winners, Kate Robards and Hollie Smurthwaite, discuss how the pandemic and conflict in our world today has affected their writing. They’ll discuss what challenges or advantages working from home presents, what effect current events have on what they’re writing, advice they have for other authors and more. We’ll also provide information on some powerful, free tools available to all writers in Illinois.

2020 Finalists for Illinois Author Project Announced

We are pleased to announce our Finalists for the 2020 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project contest.

Adult Fiction Finalists

In alphabetical order by author last name.
  • War, Spies, and Bobby Sox: Stories About WW2 At Home, Libby Hellmann
  • The Color of Trauma, Hollie Smurthwaite
  • Children of the Revolution, Joanne Zienty

Young Adult Fiction Semi-finalists

In alphabetical order by author last name.
  • ROAN: The Tales of Conor Archer, Vol. 1, Eric Barr
  • The Influencers, Kassandra Garrison
  • The Secret Journal, Otto Schafer

Congratulations to these six authors listed above.