Best Self-Published Novel Contest

James River Writers and Richmond magazine recognizes 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. The winner is announced in the September issue of Richmond magazine and in October at the conference. Press releases will also recognize the winner.

The Best Self-Published Novel Contest is currently closed.

The next contest opens January 1, 2019, and closes February 28, 2019.


To submit an entry, the author must be a resident of Virginia, a student at a Virginia college or university, or a member of JRW. Richmond magazine and JRW employees and board members cannot enter. (Out-of-state writers may enter the contest by becoming members.)

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. We require a bound copy, which is standard practice for many self-published novel contests. Self-publishing experts recommend authors should have bound copies, even if their books are primarily sold as e-books. Some reviewers prefer bound copies. There are many resources for acquiring a single, inexpensive bound copy.

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

Each submission must have a cover sheet with the author’s name, contact information (include email, mailing address, and phone number), and the novel’s title, genre, and approximate word count. Download the Best Self-published Novel Contest Cover Sheet.

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

The Best Self-Published Novel Contest is currently closed.

Judging Criteria

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