Are you the next Soon to be Famous™ Illinois Author?

To kick off the season, here is a guest blog post from the Chicago Public Libraries!

Dear Self-published Authors,
We think you’re awesome.


Illinois Librarians

No really, we do!

In fact, there’s a group of us here in Illinois who have made it our mission to seek out and promote the best self-published adult fiction written by Illinois authors; we call this the Soon to be Famous™ Illinois Author Project.  We’re just beginning our third year and we can’t wait to see what the unsung self-published authors of Illinois have for us this year.

So how does this work?

Between October 12, 2015 and January 4, 2016 we will accept entries of self-published adult fiction from Illinois authors.  A rigorous judging process follows.  Librarian judges narrow the field down to 10-15 semifinalists in the first round.  A second round of judging brings us down to our three finalists, and our winner is announced at a media event held during National Library Week in April 2016.

And how do we “make you famous?”

Here’s how that happened for our 2014 award-winner, Joanne Zienty, author of The Things We Save.  The Soon to be Famous™ committee members, all library marketers, collaborated on a series of events to promote Joanne and her book that included appearances at twenty-six different libraries, visits to  five private book clubs, interviews on WGN and WDCB radio, and participation in three conference/literary fest events.  Print articles in the Chicago Tribune, ILA Reporter, Daily Herald, numerous local papers and School Library Journal as well as online publicity from Booklist Online, Forbes, various library/publishing related blogs and the “Soon to be Famous” website also contributed to the spotlight focused on Joanne, her novel, and the whole issue of the relationship between self-publishers and librarians.

And what did this do for her book sales?

The Things We Save was available on Amazon and through other channels for two years before Joanne won the contest. Nine months after the award, she had sold seven time more print versions of the book than were sold during the previous two years–a 600 % increase!  E-book sales through Amazon Kindle jumped almost 375% over the previous two years.  Finally, through Smashwords e-book channels, she sold 15 times as many e-books than she did before the recognition of Soon to Be Famous.

Oh, and libraries?

Straight from the author’s mouth: “Wallowing in self-absorption, I googled my book.  To my astonishment, I discovered my novel had been added to the collection of the public library in Bangor, Maine.  I don’t know a single soul in Bangor, Maine.  But somehow, some way, some librarian deemed my book shelf-worthy.” That Bangor librarian is not alone.  At this writing, Joanne Zienty’s novel is part of the collections of 126 libraries–108 in Illinois, and 18 libraries in 12 other states from Maine to California.

The 2015 Soon to be Famous™ winner Michael Alan Peck, author of The Commons  Book I: The Journeyman, is now in the midst of a full schedule of library appearances, and has also been interviewed on WGN radio.

This could be you!

Self-publishing is big, big business.  Take a look at these numbers compiled by

  • 33% of all paid ebook unit sales on are indie self-published ebooks.
  • 20% of all consumer dollars spent on ebooks on are being spent on indie self-published ebooks.
  • 40% of all dollars earned by authors from ebooks on are earned by indie self-published ebooks.
  • In mid-year 2014, indie-published authors as a cohort began taking home the lion’s share (40%) of all ebook author earnings generated on while authors published by all of the Big Five publishers combined slipped into second place at 35%.

No librarian would dream of ignoring 33% of titles sold on Amazon, but without a new way of discovering and evaluating all the new works not included in the traditional journals, librarians are in danger of doing just that.

Help us get the word out that there is a lot of unrecognized literary talent in the self-publishing world.  Enter the Soon to be Famous™ Illinois Author competition.  Librarians are waiting to read your story!

For complete information about the contest and the project, visit

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