Announcing the First Annual “Minnesota Author Project: Communities Create” Contest

Minnesota public libraries are pleased to announce the call for entries in the first annual Minnesota Author Project: Communities Create contest. 

For Minnesota organizations and communities who have creative written work to share –  a short story collection from a classroom, a local history book by a team of librarians, a poetry anthology from a writers group, a cookbook by a local foodie society – this new contest is the perfect opportunity to get that work out to a wide audience and maybe win a contest in the process!

Marlene Moulton Janssen, board member of the Minnesota Library Foundation, which sponsors the Minnesota Author Project (along with Minnesota’s libraries and Bibliolabs), explains that this new contest category is designed “to recognize community-created writing and to highlight the central role that libraries play in providing support for local authors and the communities they serve.”

Submissions will be accepted from April 1-May 31, 2020.

The winning organization will receive:

  • A $1000 cash prize
  • Honors at the 2020 Minnesota Library Association Conference
  • An honorary plaque
  • Printing of the winning book and the opportunity to make the book available statewide in the Indie Minnesota collection on BiblioBoard Library
  • Media promotion throughout the state

In order to be eligible for the contest, the book must be:

  • have been created by a Minnesota-based organization
  • available in either PDF or ePub format
  • be of a recommended minimum length of 10,000 words or 20 pages

There are no genre or creation date restrictions, and organizations of all types are encouraged to submit their work, including nonprofits, libraries, schools, cultural groups, historical societies, artistry guilds, and beyond.

Groups are invited to submit entries at  Groups that have content ready but need help formatting or creating a book file are encouraged to use the free MN Writes MN Reads self-publishing resources available to all Minnesota residents.

Call for entries in the Minnesota statewide author contest 

Minnesota Author Project creates opportunities for indie-published authors

Minnesota public libraries are pleased to announce the call for entries in this year’s statewide contest for independently-published Young Adult and Adult Fiction.  This is the contest’s third year.

Submissions will be accepted from April 1-May 31, 2020.

The winners will receive:

  • $1000 each in adult and young adult categories. Prizes sponsored by the Minnesota Library Foundation and BiblioLabs.
  • Honors at an Indie Author Project celebration reception in 2021
  • Opportunities to promote their book(s) at Minnesota public libraries
  • Inclusion in a full-page print spread in Library Journal, one of America’s oldest and most renowned trade publications for library news
  • If available, print copies will be purchased and made available for checkout through Minnesota’s public libraries.
  • Inclusion and promotion in Indie Minnesota

For indie-published authors, the contest is a great way to elevate their careers and business. Being recognized by libraries creates credibility and visibility in the growing marketplace of digital content and indie-published books. The 2019 contest winners attest to how career- and life-changing the award can be. Sarah Hanley, winner in the Adult Fiction category, describes how “the contest has connected me with readers from across the state and nation, and has opened up amazing opportunities.” Steve South, winner in the Young Adult Fiction category, shares that he “struggled for years to find a publisher for my book, which I wound up self-publishing…I now have a signed contract with a publisher.”

According to Publisher’s Weekly, the number of self-published books increased by 40% in 2018, totaling more than 1.4 million titles.  The Minnesota Author Project (combined with the MN Writes MN Reads suite of resources for writers to use to self-publish their work) provides libraries with a chance to encourage new work from this growing group.   This is a trend shared by libraries across the country.  Ran Walker, winner in the adult fiction category of the 2018 Virginia Author Project who went on to win the inaugural Indie Author of the Year award in 2019, notes that since getting involved with the Indie Author Project, “ I have learned the power of libraries and how necessary they are to the growth and success of my writing career.”

Don’t miss this chance to reach thousands of new readers via Minnesota’s libraries!

Each book that is submitted to the contest must be:

  • Independently-published
  • In the category of adult fiction or young adult fiction
  • Written by a Minnesota resident
  • Available in either PDF or ePUB format

Multiple submissions are welcome.

The contest is open for submissions April 1, 2019 through May 31, 2019. Authors are invited to submit entries and to check out the free self-publishing resources at

And everyone, writers and readers alike, is encouraged to check out the Indie Minnesota library.  Download the Biblioboard Library app or read in your web browser.

Guest Post: Making It Easier for Readers and Writers to Connect

By Sherry Roberts


“What’s wrong with freedom, man? That’s what it’s all about.”—Easy Rider

Being an independent author is in my blood. I was the teenager who watched Easy Rider in the theater of my small town and went out and bought the first suede leather fringe jacket I could find. I loved that jacket, and I loved the way it made me feel. It was the essence of freedom.

The growth of independent publishing in the last twenty years has spelled freedom for writers of all ages, all races and socio-economic levels, and in all genres. You can call us self-published; you can call us indie authors; you can call us rebels. We are people who have decided to approach our writing not through the lens of the gatekeepers—traditional publishers who controlled the publishing industry—but through our own lens.

But freedom comes with a price. We have to pay for our own editors, book designers and publicists. We don’t get big advances that will allow us to comfortably keep writing the next book, while the current one earns money for the publisher. Until Amazon released the Kindle in 2007 and print on demand became technologically viable, we couldn’t distribute our books easily without incurring hefty printing bills and turning a spare bedroom into a warehouse for our books. Sorry, kids.

We continue to fight the stigma of self-publishing. Many publications won’t review our books, and many bookstores won’t carry our books. Or, if a bookstore will carry our book, we don’t have the funds to procure special, attention-getting placement on the shelf. You won’t find us on bestsellers lists because those lists are based on reports from booksellers.

Which leads to the biggest price we pay: discoverability. The eternal problem for the indie author is how to connect with readers and let them know a great story awaits them.

That is why I truly appreciate the work of MN Writes MN Reads, which is dedicated to forging a bridge between indie authors and readers, encouraging writers Crow Calling coverto pursue their creative works, and enhancing the ebook collections of Minnesota libraries. I am the author of two books of contemporary fiction (Maud’s House and Book of Mercy) and three mysteries (Down Dog Diary, Warrior’s Revenge, and Crow Calling). Hundreds of readers have accessed my books via MN Writes MN Reads. Readers are reading my books through libraries all over Minnesota as well as other states: Louisiana, Ohio, Texas, South Dakota, Indiana, Illinois, South Carolina. Through MN Writes MN Reads, I even have new readers abroad in Canada, Russia, and Costa Rica.

I discovered MN Writes MN Reads through Library Journal’s SELF-e program,* a curated program seeking to connect indie books, libraries, and readers. Because indie books are so often slammed by the publishing industry, it was important to me to be curated and I was impressed that Library Journal was reaching out to indies. So when Library Journal chose my books to be SELF-e Select** titles, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

I still have to work hard to get readers to notice my work; I don’t have a marketing department with big bucks promoting my books. But I do have the support of organizations like MN Writes MN Reads and programs like Library Journal SELF-e,* and I am grateful for them. They are keeping the gate open for both writers and readers. You don’t even have to have a library card to access the local authors in the Indie Minnesota collection. Just go to With a click, you can read an indie book on your computer, download an app to read it on your e-reader, or buy a print copy to support your local authors (always an admirable thing to do).

That is freedom, my friend, and that’s what it’s all about.

Author Sherry Roberts lives in Apple Valley, MN. Her new book, Crow Calling, is book three in the Maya Skye novels, a cozy mystery series set in Minnesota featuring a crime-fighting yoga teacher. For more information, visit her author site.

*SELF-e is now the Indie Author Project.
**SELF- Select is now Indie Author Project Select.