Best Self-Published Novel Contest

The contest is closed until 2022. We run our contests on a three-year rotation.

James River Writers and Richmond magazine recognize the writing talents and entrepreneurial skills of indie authors by continuing The Best Self-Published Novel Contest, which we started in 2014. One first-prize winner will receive $500 and a ticket to the annual James River Writers Conference (worth $250). The winner is announced in a fall issue of Richmond magazine and in October at the conference. Press releases will also recognize the winner.



Richmond magazine and JRW employees, board members, and their immediate family members cannot enter. If you have won the contest in the past, you may not re-enter the same book.

Note that this contest is for fiction only.

For a novel to be eligible for this contest, authors need to have paid the full cost of production. During the contest period, writers must submit a bound copy of their self-published novel.

Your indie novel must have been published between the dates of April 1, 2019 (our last contest) and March 15, 2022 (the closing date of the 2022 contest).

In the past, entries have been limited to JRW members and residents of Virginia. In 2022, the contest will be open to all regardless of residence or membership status.

Entry Fee

The entry fee is $25.00. You can pay the entry fee online using the link below or send a check made out to James River Writers.


For each submission, you must complete the Best Self-published Novel Contest entry form with the author’s name, contact information (include email, mailing address, and phone number), and the novel’s title.

Submissions must be mailed with your printed receipt for the entry fee or a check for $25 made out to James River Writers to the address below.

Please do not send your novel to us via certified mail or any other method that requires a signature.

James River Writers
Best Self-Published Novel Contest
2319 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23223

Submissions will be returned only if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. If no SASE is included, after all judging is completed, entries will be donated to a local little free library.

Judging Criteria

Each entry will be judged on writing quality, editing, layout, cover design, and formatting.