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SC Arts Commission Literary Arts Program

FY2016 First Novel Competition


Application Deadline: March 15, 2016



The South Carolina First Novel Prize recognizes one of South Carolina's exceptional writers by providing a book contract with Hub City Press. The competition is a highly competitive, anonymous process. Publication by Hub City of at least 2,000 copies of the book will bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and opportunities. The book will be nationally distributed.


James McTeer's 2014 winning novel, Minnow, received starred reviews in Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews and favorable reviews in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Los Angeles Review of Books. The book is now in its second printing.


Susan Tekulve won the 2012 First Novel prize with her book In the Garden of Stone. Tekulve's book has sold thousands of copies and was reviewed in national magazines and journals. Her book tour included four states and several book festivals. Tekulve's work is now represented by a New York agent.


Matt Matthews of Greer was the winner of the 2010 competition. His book, Mercy Creek, was published in 2011. Brian Ray of Columbia was the winner of the inaugural novel competition. His book, Through the Pale Door, was published by Hub City in June 2009. Both books have been widely and favorably reviewed across the Southeast.


The South Carolina First Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press and the Phifer/Johnson Foundation of Spartanburg, SC. The Humanities CouncilSC and the South Carolina State Library are founding partners.


Eligibility Requirements
The applicant must:

  1. Be a legal resident of the U.S. and S.C. with a permanent residence in the state for one (1) year prior to the application deadline (twelve consecutive months);
  2. Be 18 years of age or older at the time of application;
  3. Not have published a novel before, but may have published a book of nonfiction, short stories, poetry or children's literature.
  4. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, as long as winning author is willing to withdraw it from consideration elsewhere upon accepting S.C. First Novel Prize.



  1. Only manuscripts between 150 and 400 (single-sided) pages are eligible;
  2. Submission must be an original work of which the applicant is the sole author;
  3. Self-published books are ineligible, including e-books;
  4. No agent submissions are accepted.

Other Information

  • We cannot give reasons for refusal or enter into correspondence or make suggestions, edits, or recommendations about submitted manuscripts.
  • No entry fees or manuscripts will be returned.
  • We will accept multiple entries from one author (no more than three novels).
  • The winning author will agree to at least five public appearances/book signings around the state.


Selection Process
Bridgett DavisApplicantsí works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make their judgments on the basis of artistic merit. Six to eight novels will be judged by nationally recognized novelist Bridgett M. Davis.

Davis’ second novel, Into The Go-Slow, was selected as a best book of 2014 by Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle, BookRiot, Bustle and The Root, among others. Time Out New York recently named Davis one of “10 New York Authors to Read Right Now.” Her debut novel, Shifting Through Neutral, published by Amistad/Harper Collins in 2004, was a finalist for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award and was featured in national media, including NPR’s News & Notes.


Davis is a professor at Baruch College, CUNY, where she teaches creative writing and journalism, and is Director of the Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence ProgramShe lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and daughter.

March 15, 2016
Applications must be postmarked (or hand-delivered to the S.C. Arts Commission offices before 5:00 PM) no later than the stated date.


Summer 2016

The winning author will receive a book contract with Hub City Press, an award-winning independent press in Spartanburg, S.C. Upon successful execution of the contract with Hub City, the winner will receive a $1,000 advance against royalties. Hub City will publish at least 2,000 copies of the book, which includes a book for every public library branch in the state.


The winning author will also receive invitations from The Humanities CouncilSC and the South Carolina State Library to appear and sign books at significant events.


The winner will receive significant promotion by the sponsors of South Carolina First Novel Prize:  Hub City Press, the South Carolina Arts Commission, The Humanities CouncilSC and the South Carolina State Library. Hub City Press will promote the book through social media and by mailing galleys and news releases to national and regional reviewers and to key booksellers. Additionally, Hub City will set up author appearances at book festivals, bookstores, colleges and libraries. The S.C. Arts Commission will promote the winner and the book on the agency's websites, in the e-newsletter, through social media and by distributing news releases to media outlets around the state, and to key regional and national arts organizations. The Humanities CouncilSC will promote the winner and the book on its website and at special events, and the South Carolina State Library will purchase a book for each public library branch in the state.

Filing Fee
The S.C. Arts Commission and Hub City Press reserve the right not to publish any of the submissions that have been solicited. Each submission must be accompanied by a processing fee of $35, payable to the South Carolina Arts Commission. No entry fees or manuscripts will be returned.


Required Application Materials
The application package must include two complete collated sets of items as follows.


NOTE: Applicants must submit ALL materials together. Manuscripts submitted separately will not be processed.

  1. Program Application - Page 1 ONLY
    Completed and signed original. Form is in Portable Document Format (PDF). (How to use PDFs)
    • In the section which reads, "Check the program for which you are applying," check the "Other" box and enter "First Novel Competition" and the title of your novel in the accompanying field.
    • Do NOT submit Pages 2 & 3.
    • If you are submitting more than one novel for consideration, please complete a separate application form for each novel.
  2. Novel
    • Include one copy of your manuscript in each collated set of application materials.
    • The title of the novel must appear on the upper right hand corner of each page of the manuscript.
    • Applicant's name and address MUST NOT appear anywhere on the work submitted.
    • Manuscripts must be double spaced on 8 ½ by 11 paper.
    • Pages must be single-sided and numbered.
    • Font must be no smaller than 12 point.
    • Manuscript should not be bound or in a folder. Pages must be binder-clipped or rubber-banded together.
  3. Current Résumé
    Résumé must not exceed three pages in length. The résumé will be used to prepare biographical information (see example) in the event the applicant is selected as winner of the competition. Résumés are not submitted with manuscripts for review.


Return of Materials

No entry fees or manuscripts will be returned.


Mail application materials to:

First Novel Prize 2016
South Carolina Arts Commission

1026 Sumter Street, Suite 200

Columbia, SC 29201



Contest Partners:

The S.C. Arts Commission

The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants and leadership initiatives in three areas: arts education, community arts development and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.


Hub City Press

Hub City Press, founded in 1995, is an award-winning nonprofit press that has published more than 70 books by Southern authors and has won 11 national Independent Publisher Awards. Hub City Press has been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, is a recipient of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts and has partnered with the S.C. Arts Commission on six previous book projects. For more information, visit www.hubcity.org or call (864) 577-9349.


The South Carolina State Library

The South Carolina State Library develops, supports, and sustains a thriving statewide community of learners committed to making South Carolina stronger. The Library serves the people of South Carolina by supporting state government and libraries to provide opportunities for learning in a changing environment. It is the primary administrator of federal and state support for the state's libraries. In 1969, as the result of action by the General Assembly, the State Library Board was redesignated as the South Carolina State Library and assumed responsibility for public library development, library service for state institutions, service for the blind and physically handicapped, and library service to state government agencies. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Library is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and other sources.  For more information, please visit www.statelibrary.sc.gov or call 803-734-8666.      


The Humanities CouncilSC

The Humanities CouncilSC is in its 40th year as the state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The mission of The Humanities CouncilSC is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. The Humanities CouncilSC programs and initiatives are balanced, reflect sensitivity to a diversity of ideas, encourage open dialogue, demonstrate integrity, and are ethical in operations. For more information, visit www.schumanities.org or call (803) 771-2477.


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