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.

Learn Book Promotion From an Expert

Read part one of our interview with jury member Sandy Diaz and find out what she will be looking for when reading the America's Next Author stories.

Sandy Diaz is the president of Smith Publicity, a book marketing company dedicated to helping authors create awareness about their books through media coverage. Smith Publicity has promoted more than 1,500 authors/publishers since 1997, and as the president of this organization, Sandy knows what it takes to get the word out about a new book or author. (More about Sandy at The Jury.)

What do you look for in a great story?

I look for a story that quickly engages me, with characters I care about. Often my favorites are ones that introduce me to a new idea, emotion, point of view or intertwines quirky topics or history. I also enjoy the unexpected ending! 

What will you focus on when looking for hidden treasures? 

Solid writing, unique voice (something that doesn’t sound like formula story telling) and a story that makes me think about it between readings or long after I am done. 

How important do you think promotion is for an author nowadays?

It is essential. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 4,000 books published every day. An author can have an amazing story and place it for sale on Amazon but if no one knows it’s there, it simply will not get read. Authors need to actively promote their book on their own or work with a professional book publicist with experience in their genre.

How do you discover new authors and books?

Typically recommendations by trusted friends and reviewers. I’ll hear a good interview on NPR, like the author’s personality and buy the book.

What are your favorite genres and authors right now?

I’m loving the young adult genre. I'm reading the Divergent series by Veronica Roth—-amazing. Always love a good business book with actionable, practical information to grow Smith Publicity. Recently read Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz. We promote many business books so I am lucky to see a stream of titles full of good advice crossing my desk. 

How can authors best take advantage of social media?

Start BEFORE you have a book to sell. You don’t want to create a network, invite friends, etc. then immediately try to push your book. Find authors, bloggers, book reviewers, and professional and consumer groups who enjoy your genre, and actively participate in discussion, including offering genuine praise for other titles. In other words, build your credibility and reputation as an author without the hard push on your own work.

What are some of your guilty reading pleasures?

Audiobooks. I always have an audiobook going, often of an old favorite series. I listen when I’m cleaning out the garage, doing laundry, walking and commuting. Sometimes I sit in my driveway listening to a good part and my kids come looking for me. (Have to find a better hiding place...)

Why are author photographs often ridiculously outdated?

NO idea! One of our book publicists fondly uses the expression, “Yep, the author is using his First Communion photo.” We too wonder why some authors use what looks like a 20 year old photo.

Are you going to be a tough juror?

Tough? Maybe. Definitely fair and honest.


This is the first part of a two-part interview with Sandy. 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!