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SC Arts Commission Literary Arts Program

FY2014 First Novel Competition


Note: The following information is for reference only. The First Novel Competition is a biennial competition. The next deadline will be announced in 2015.


Application Deadline: March 3, 2014



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 1,500 copies of the book will bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and opportunities. The book will be nationally distributed.


Susan Tekulve, who won the 2012 First Novel prize with her book In the Garden of Stone, now has a New York agent to represent her work. 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.


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 is a founding partner.


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, including the South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia in May 2015.


Selection Process
Ben FountainApplicants’ 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 Ben Fountain. Fountain won the National Book Critics Circle book prize in 2012 for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime WalkThe New York Times praised Fountain’s novel as “grand, intimate and joyous.” The Washington Post called it “a masterful gut-punch of a debut.”  His short story collection Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, won the PEN/Hemmingway Award for first fiction in 2006. He has won a Pushcart Prize, two O. Henry Awards, two Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Awards, and a Whiting Writers Award, among other honors and awards. Fountain’s fiction has been published in Harper's, The Paris Review, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Stories from the South: The Year's Best, and his nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times and The New York Times Sunday Magazine, among other publications. His reportage on post-earthquake Haiti was nationally broadcast on the radio show This American Life. He and his family live in Dallas, Texas.


March 3, 2014
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 2014

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 1,500 copies of the book.


The winning author will also receive an invitation from The Humanities CouncilSC to appear and sign books at the 2015 South Carolina Book Festival. The winner will receive significant promotion by the sponsors of South Carolina First Novel Prize:  Hub City Press, The South Carolina Arts Commission  and The Humanities CouncilSC. 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.

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 2014
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, has published more than 65 books by regional authors, won 12 national and regional IPPY awards from Independent Publisher magazine, 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 five previous book projects. For more information, visit www.hubcity.org or call (864) 577-9349.


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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