Secrets and Speed-Dating by Australian author Leah Ashton has won New Voices, the global search for new writing talent from leading romance publisher Mills & Boon.
Launched in September 2010, and hosted at www.romanceisnotdead.com, aspiring authors were asked to submit the first chapter of their Mills & Boon novel for a chance at winning the ultimate prize of seeing their book published by Mills & Boon, an editor for a year and an Apple iPad.
New Voices has placed the publisher in a unique position to engage with their readers online whilst discovering new writing talent. Mills & Boon were the first publisher to publish their entire list as eBooks and to have their own branded Sony eReader. This year they reported 57% growth in sales of eBooks through Tesco.
Mills & Boon's global search for a new author was launched entirely through social media, cementing the publisher's place at the forefront of digital publishing, and the numbers speak for themselves. In the last two months:
> 101,558 hits to http://www.romanceisnotdead.com/
> 27% increase in RomanceHQ twitter followers
> 36% increase in Mills & Boon Facebook fans
> 1.2million page views
> 25,698 unique visitors
> 4,938 registered users making 10,344 comments
An incredible 822 hopeful romance writers entered the 'X-Factor for fiction' who were whittled down to a final ten by the editorial team, allocated author mentors and asked to write their second chapter. The public voted in their hundreds for the final four, who were set the challenge of writing their 'pivotal moment' before facing the judging panel and public vote for one final time.
Winner Leah Ashton was the clear favourite of both the judges and the voting public, and her editor mentor, Meg Lewis, says: "I am absolutely thrilled that Leah has won the New Voices competition. She has been a real pleasure to work with - so enthusiastic and responsive to editorial direction. Leah has a natural voice that's a joy to read and she has real potential."
I hope that Leah will contact me for an interview and to review her debut! Congratulations Leah.