The Soon to be Famous Illinois Author may be perched in a coffee shop finishing off the next great novel right now. In a few months that author may be famous. The Soon to be Famous Illinois Author project kicked off at the annual Illinois Library Association conference. The project is seeking an Illinois author with a self-published adult fiction book that libraries can help to make “famous.” 

The Soon to be Famous Illinois Author project will be accepting adult fiction submissions from Illinois residents via their local libraries until January 6, 2014. The winner will be announced during National Library Week, April 13 to 19, 2014.

It is the perfect fit for Illinois libraries to discover an exciting work of fiction, as libraries have been a keystone in creating enthusiasm for reading for centuries. Even in this digital age, every day, library staff across the state of Illinois recommend written works as well as host author talks and book clubs.

“IHLS is pleased to partner with a project that connects libraries to the communities they serve. It's a perfect match--libraries seek out and promote literary resources, and patrons look to them to offer engaging and enticing options. Imagine discovering the latest literary genius in your backyard!” said Leslie Bednar, Executive Director of the Illinois Heartland Library System. 

The Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project is the brainchild of Illinois library marketing professionals. They were inspired after listening to a presentation by brand expert and NYU professor David Vinjamuri, who spoke about the importance of libraries in the era of eBooks and branding at the American Library Association’s annual conference this summer.

“David made the point again and again about how libraries are instrumental in promoting reading and literature. He issued a challenge to libraries to find an unknown talented Illinois author that will become a success based on librarians’ recommendations. So we are taking up the challenge! The purpose of this exciting project is twofold—give a talented author exposure and spotlight the importance of libraries to literature efforts,” said Illinois Library Association Executive Director Robert Doyle.

A staff member from any type of Illinois library, public, academic, school or special, can submit a book for the project. The author must be an Illinois resident, with a self-published book of adult fiction in print and/or digital, be willing to provide copies of the book to the judging committee members, and be willing to promote his/her book at libraries and other venues in person or via Skype.

“This project fits well with the ALA Digital Content Working Group’s efforts to step up engagement with authors, publishers and others in the e-book ecosystem to ensure readers have access to literature and knowledge in all formats through libraries,” said Larra Clark. “Self-publishing is exploding, so the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project comes at a great time to benefit readers and writers across the state. I can imagine many other states taking up the challenge, and I hope they will.”

Public Library Association President Carolyn Anthony, also an Illinois librarian, says, “Public libraries have a real role to play in encouraging local authors, helping them learn about options for self-publishing, giving their works visibility in the library, and spreading the word when a rising star emerges.  PLA is delighted to support this effort and looks forward to helping to build on this wonderful idea!”

Illinois libraries can send book nominations to Submissions should include author name, author title of book and link to book or a copy of the book.

In addition, the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author project is looking for Illinois librarians to vet author submissions and help choose the winner. Those interested can email their name, title and contact information to Julie Stam at

The Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project is being coordinated in collaboration with the Illinois Library Association and Reaching Across Illinois Library System and is supported by the American Library Association Digital Content Working Group, the Public Library Association, and the Illinois Heartland Library System.



Jeanne Hamilton, Charleston Public Library, 217.345.4913,