America's Next Author background
America's Next Author
America's Next Author is the first real social writing contest. Winners will be chosen based on a unique combination of votes from readers and publishing industry experts.

"I want to be blown away by the ideas."

Read our first interview with jury member Peter McCarthy and find out what he will be looking for when reading the America's Next Author stories.

Peter McCarthy says he is going to be a fair and helpful juror, yet wants to see excellent writing execution, too. As a publishing industry veteran, the founder and Principal Consultant of McCarthy Digital knows what he wants from our participants. (More about Peter at The Jury.)

What makes a great story?

As a reader I look for compelling ideas, characters, and -- personally -- an economical style with no "wasted" words. At heart, though, I'm a marketer and I am always thinking about how well a given story (or book) lines up with potential readers. Will it resonate? If so, what aspects in particular? I look for a certain "differentiating factor" or "hook" that will speak to readers and get them to read that first sentence.

What hidden treasures will you look for in our contest?

Amazing and truly unique concepts and excellent execution. I want to be blown away by the ideas and the writing. If those two pieces are there, the rest just falls into place. At least most of the time! No guarantees.

Are you a tough juror?

Relatively tough but mostly, I hope, fair and helpful.

How can authors best take advantage of social media?

Firstly, by first taking the time to learn the best practices of using social media in general. These networks have their own rhythms, idioms, and idiosyncrasies. Secondly, by defining their potential audience, their goals, and then their tactics. Generally a blend of social interaction, informative sharing, and promotion works best. No one likes the "hard sell," regardless of the medium. Lastly, I would offer that fearlessness, measurement, and patience are critical. Be fearless -- do it and be yourself. Measure your efforts -- and don't be afraid to stop doing what is not working. Lastly, and most importantly, be patient. Overnight success happens over time and with much effort.

Our participants might need some compassion, too. Have you ever participated in a writing contest yourself?

Indeed. Back in my younger days I wrote screenplays. My co-author and I participated in a Writers Guild of America -- West competition. We were finalists and had our script read by several producers. We didn't get a deal but we did get great, useful feedback. It was a great experience. Very encouraging.

What are some of your guilty reading pleasures?

Self-help. I find a lot of it useful, though for some reason I am embarrassed to cop to the fact that I like reading it from time-to-time. Too much time in literary ivory towers, I suppose. I would use an emoticon here as I am laughing at myself...

Your writing-related pet peeves?

I do not have much patience for a lack of economy with words. I love a good descriptive paragraph as much as the next reader. However, as Elmore Leonard once put it: "Leave out the parts people skip." I think this applies to all genres and across fiction and nonfiction.

How can authors achieve real writing success?

Focusing on the writing first and then letting others help with the rest of the process of publication. No one is a professional at every facet of publishing. And, as seamless as releasing an eBook has become, getting the process right is still much more difficult than most think. But, yeah, write often, as well as you can, and then get support.


This is the first part of a two-part interview with Peter. Watch for the second half to be posted later in the contest!

December 18th, 2012
The winner of America's Next Author 2012 has been announced! [...]
December 7th, 2012
Questions and answers about the Battle Round. [...]
Goodbye For Now!
I won't be America's Next Author this year, but maybe next year ... [...]
Like a Criminal
Mystery Writer (6)
We're not all cut out for a life of crime. [...]
Big Breaks and Little Breaks
Mystery Writer (5)
How one Facebook message brought me from frustrated and upset to excited and motivated. [...]
The Future Bestsellers
Mystery Writer (4)
The wild ride continues ... who will be the first wildcard nominee? Will I learn enough about online promotion to get hired for a job in marketing? ;) [...]
Image Is Everything
Mystery Writer (3)
This week I put a lot of effort into improving my ANA author page, and I think it's starting to pay off. [...]
My First Week Experience
Mystery Writer (2)
Voting, reviews, Facebook, Tweets, links ... so busy! [...]
Seven more rounds!
Mystery Writer (1)
When I first got the email notifying me that my story was accepted for America's Next Author, I was really excited and even a little nervous. [...]
America's Next Author

#ANA2012 | What Fans Have To Say


America's Next Author is the first social writing contest. Friends, family, fans and publishing industry experts will read authors' submissions and nominate their favorite to be America's next major author. Everyone can participate!