Gather.com Teams With Simon & Schuster, Borders For Writer Contest

Online social networking site Gather.com, known as a MySpace for adults, has forged two partnerships in the book world that will give readers a place to share their opinions on literature, and an opportunity to vote on which first-time author deserves to be published.

Gather.com and the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster announced the Gather.com First Chapters Writing Competition, under which unpublished writers submit a manuscript for a full-length work of fiction.

Each entry's first chapter will be posted on the site, and users will vote on the 20 most popular manuscripts. Authors of these will then get to post their second chapters online. A vote will follow, after which the third chapters of the top 10 manuscripts will be posted online, until finally in the fourth and final round, a panel of judges--including Carolyn K. Reidy, the president of the adult publishing group at Simon & Schuster, and George Jones, the chief executive of Borders--will review the entire manuscripts of five finalists.

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The Grand Prize winner is guaranteed a publishing contract with Touchstone and will win $5,000 from Gather.com.

The winner's book also will receive significant promotion at Borders stores. Gather.com announced the creation of an online community at Borders.Gather.com earlier this week, as well as the designation of Borders as the official bookseller of Gather.com.

Under that partnership, Borders will promote the Gather.com online community to its more than 15 million Borders' reward members who receive weekly emails. Visitors to the site will find author-related content and events and have the chance to earn Gather Points redeemable for Borders gift cards. Borders also will promote the First Chapters competition via these emails.

"Amongst the millions of Borders customers, there are many exceptionally talented writers. We are excited to give them access to the Gather.com First Chapters Writing Competition and to give all of our customers the opportunity to enjoy their talent," said Borders Group Chief Marketing Officer Michael Tam in a statement.

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