Wilkes University

James Jones First Novel Fellowship

The James Jones First Novel Fellowship was established in 1992 to “honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture as exemplified by (the writings of) James Jones.” Jones was the author of the National Book Award-winning novel From Here to Eternity as well as the novels Some Came Running and The Thin Red Line.

A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a novel-in-progress by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. First runner-up will receive $3,000, second runner-up will receive $2,000.

All selections are at the discretion of the judges. For more about James Jones and the James Jones Literary Society go to jamesjonesliterarysociety.org

31st Annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship

The 31st Annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship awarded first place and $10,000 to
Bennish Ahmed, Detroit, MI for her novel titled Every Song An Elegy.

The competition is co-sponsored by the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Wilkes University and the James Jones Literary Society. A total of 584 entries were submitted this year.

The first runner-up was Raquel Rivera of Albuquerque, NM for her novel The Song Cypher,
awarded $3,000. The second runner-up was Bora Reed of Berkeley, CA for her novel The Letter Writers, awarded $2,000.

The 32nd Annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship will be awarded to an American author of a first novel-in-progress, in 2023, by the James Jones Literary Society.

Eligible writers

  • Have never published a novel
  • Are U.S. citizens or permanent residents of America with Green Cards
  • May have published any other type of work including non-fiction articles and short stories

Non eligible writers

  • Officers of the James Jones Literary Society
  • Writers who have published previous novels

Eligible submissions

  • Unpublished novels
  • Novels in which one or more chapters have been published

Non eligible submissions

  • Collections of short stories
  • Linked short stories
  • Self-published novels

Note: Manuscripts may be simultaneously submitted for the First Novel Contest and to a publisher for publication. If the work is accepted by a publisher at any time up to the announcement of the First Novel winner, the Society must be notified and the selection will be withdrawn from the contest.

Please note: The James Jones First Novel Fellowship will no longer be accepting mail in submissions. Entries for the 2023 contest will be accepted beginning October 1, 2022. Entries should be sent to jamesjones.submittable.com/submit no later than midnight, March 15, 2023, Eastern Standard time. Entry fee is $30 plus a $3 processing fee. For more information, please contact jamesjonesfirstnovel@wilkes.edu.

Manuscript Guidelines: A two-page (maximum) outline or synopsis of the entire novel and the first 50 pages of the novel-in-progress are to be submitted. A specific format for the outline or synopsis is not required.

The manuscript must be typed and double-spaced; outline may be single-spaced. Entrants should include their name, address, telephone number and e-mail address (if available) ONLY on the cover letter, but nowhere else on the manuscript. Pages should be numbered. Please attach your cover letter in the cover letter box, and your outline/synopsis and the first 50 pages of you novel as one document under attached files. Please do not include your name in the title of your attached file.

Entry Fee: $30 plus a $3.00 processing fee.

Entries for the 2023 contest will be accepted after October 1, 2022.

Online Submission Form: jamesjones.submittable.com/submit no later than midnight, March 15, 2023 Eastern Standard time.

The winner will be notified in September 2023. 


Frequently Asked Questions

A: Yes, resubmitted manuscripts are accepted.

A: We usually receive close to 600 manuscripts. 

A: Yes, multiple entries from the same author are allowed, but each submission must be submitted separately. $30 for each online entry plus a $3 processing fee.

A: No. Please keep a copy of the original version you submitted to the contest. All judges will read the original version.
A: Yes. We do not accept entries from authors who have self-published.
A: No. The contest is only open to unpublished novels.