Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 12, 2012

Best First Novel of the Year Award – Includes Self Published

The McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns First Novel Prize

Thanks to the generosity of board member Neal P. Gillen, The Writer’s Center is pleased to announce that it will award $500 annually to the author of the best first novel published during a given calendar year. Conceived and funded by Gillen, the McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns Prize honors three dedicated writers and members of The Writer’s Center faculty—Ann McLaughlin, Barbara Esstman, and Lynn Stearns—each of whom unselfishly nourish and inspire students and fellow writers.

The submission period for the First Novel Prize is now open.

Eligibility and Requirements:

  • All first novels published in 2011 are eligible, including those published by major, independent, and self-publishing presses. Only American authors publishing in English are eligible.
  • All entries must be postmarked by July 31, 2012. Entries not postmarked prior to or on this date will be ineligible, and they will not be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
  • Publishers (or authors) must submit three copies of their published novel along with a contact cover sheet indicating name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (no cover letter required). No galley proofs will be accepted.
  • Following the judging process, books will not be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope with sufficient postage. The Writer’s Center is not responsible for lost or damaged books.
  • Writer’s Center staff, board, and workshop leaders may not enter.


The Writer’s Center will solicit a group of no more than 15 volunteer judges to serve as first-round judges. These volunteers will evaluate books to determine if they meet eligibility requirements, and they will read and evaluate the submissions. Submissions advancing to the second round of judging will be evaluated by a team of three final judges. Final judges will be selected from our membership and workshop leader pool. These judges will determine at their sole discretion the Award recipient.

The Winner:

The Winner will be announced in October. He or she will receive a feature in the 2013 Winter/Spring edition of The Workshop & Event Guide, at, and our blog, First Person Plural. In addition, if feasible, he or she will be invited to read at The Writer’s Center during a reception to honor his or her work.

Send entries to:

The Writer’s Center Attn:
Laura Spencer
Re: Undiscovered Voices Scholarship
4508 Walsh St
Bethesda MD 20815

I know there are a lot of you who had a book published in 2011. There is no fee to apply. All you need is three copies of your book to send in. Besides the $500, it would be good publicity for the book and you. Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Looks like a great opportunity.


  2. Good Luck to anyone who submits! 🙂


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