Find the ‘Best Writer in Palm Beach County’ Contest

First place winner: Jerry Kellerman of Boca Raton, for his novel, Cold Moonlight.  Second place winner:  Janis Jones for her novel, The Original Trophy Wife. 


Do you think you have what it takes to land a New York literary agent, lock in a publisher and be a New York Times best-seller?

OUR CONTEST FOR 2017 HAS ENDED. The next contest begins July 4th of 2018. 


  • Must be a resident of Palm Beach County
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Two categories. Fiction and non-fiction – one winner from each category.
  • Must not be previously published. If the submitted materials were self-published in any previous format they are not acceptable
  • Contest deadline is to be Post-marked no later than October 9th.


WE WILL NOT BE PROVIDING FEEDBACK TO THE SUBMITTED MATERIAL UNLESS YOU ARE A FINALIST. (however, scroll down for some submitting tips of what our judges notice)
If you desire your material be returned, please provide a SASE. (Self-addressed, stamped envelope)

Please submit:

  • Up to 10 pages (only) of your manuscript. Preferably a chapter or two. Not an outline.
  • Please check your grammar and how a book proposal might look (you can find this online).
  • Please do not staple your check to your entry pages.
  • $50 processing fee. Check made out to the Palm Beach Book Festival. We are a 501 C-3 non-profit. Your donation is tax deductible.
  • Please include your full name, email and phone number on a cover/title page and which category – fiction or non-fiction – to:

Palm Beach Book Festival
PO Box 3069
Palm Beach FL 33480

Winners will be announced by Thanksgiving on our website, Facebook and our social media outlets. And, by personal phone call to the winner of each category.

Winners will receive two VIP passes to the festival for 2018 and the opportunity to have their work considered by a top New York City literary agent. 

The Small print:  We are not obligated to choose a winning contestant if entries do not qualify to meet our standards or the integrity of our relationship with literary agents.  In the event we have two equal ‘best’ submissions from the same category, we will announce them as first place in that same genre. (i.e. two fiction winners in place of a non-fiction winner or vice versa.)

Some advice from our Judges: 

  • Don’t oversell yourself. Just tell the story.
  • Show the reader you have control of where your story is going
  • Allow the reader to feel comfortable enough to go on your journey
  • Don’t put all the information up front.
  • Use high school language.  Not ridiculously big adjectives. It’s the storytelling that matters.
  • Draw the reader in from page one.    It’s why people put a book back down on a bookstore shelf (and don’t buy it).

Past winners: 

IN THE CATEGORY OF FICTION for the 2016-2017 season, the WINNERS were:

First place:

CRAIG J. MILLARD, Stolen Assets

Second place:

AL DAWSON, Finding Noriko

Third place:
JOHN SIZEMORE, Professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University, untitled project

IN THE CATEGORY OF NON-FICTION for 2016-2017 we did not have many submissions. The few we received were not strong enough to be considered for representation. However, at the 2017 festival we honored Eleanor Caro, West Palm Beach, for her memoir Still Time. It seems it’s never too late (even at age 90) to see the world and follow your dreams. And, apparently, to enter a contest.

In the category of non-fiction for 2016… 

Winner:  Eva Kranich 

In the category of fiction for 2016….

Winner:   Ellyn Horn Zarek 




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P.O. Box 3069
Palm Beach, FL 33480

Lois Cahall

Honorary Chairman
James Patterson

Board of Directors
Matthew Burditt
Lois Cahall
Mark W. Cook
Robert Shalhoub
Margaret Wilesmith

Advisory Board
Lisa Brintz
Doris Downes
Scott Eyman
Andrew Gross
Morris Saffer
Lisa Sharkey
Stuart Woods


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