Found this on Yahoo! and thought this might be of interest! :)
U.S. contest seeks to be "American Idol' of books
By Christine KearneyThu Jan 11, 6:32 PM ET
A major U.S. book publisher is hoping its new Web-based writing contest can tap into the popularity of interactive competitions like hit television show "American Idol."
As part of the "First Chapters" contest, aspiring first-time authors and members of www.gather.com can post manuscripts on that social-networking Web site, organizers from publisher Touchstone Fireside and gather.com said on Thursday.
Touchstone Fireside is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Inc., a division of Viacom.
If online readers like the manuscript's first chapter, the author is voted through to the next round. Two more chapters are posted and the public narrows the field in the same fashion.
After three rounds of judging, a winning manuscript will be picked from among five finalists in May. 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 $5,000, a book contract with Touchstone Fireside and distribution by Borders.
In an industry struggling to sell fiction books, this is the latest effort to find a top-selling author. It follows other competitions including The Sobol Award, a literary competition launched in September that folded this week.
"We keep laughing about it, but this is the 'American Idol' of book publishing," Gompertz said. "We hope that we will find a talented writer who might not in the traditional way get themselves noticed."
Would-be authors without an agent have traditionally submitted manuscripts to a publishing house hoping to be picked out of a "slush pile," Gompertz said.
"This is an experiment on a sort of needle-in-the-haystack approach," said Gompertz, noting the voting public could outdo publishers who have picked "a lot of great stuff and a lot of dreck."