We willl be accepting manuscripts until June 30th, 2012. See details below.


Fred Bonnie was a great friend to the literary community at large, and particularly to the South, his home for many years. Fred was a talented short story writer who always knew that he had inside him a great novel waiting to be written. We at River City Publishing were fortunate enough to publish his short story collection Food Fights and his only novel, Thanh Ho Delivers. Sadly, Fred died suddenly of a heart attack at age fifty-four while returning home from a book-signing event for Thanh Ho.

In Fred’s memory, River City Publishing established this award for first novels. The winning manuscript is published, and the author receives a certificate of award and a $1,500 advance against royalties.


The contest is open to anyone aged 18 or older, and who has not previously published a novel. Writers who have published in other genres (e.g., nonfiction, poetry, children’s books, short stories) are eligible. Works that have been self-published in traditional print, print-on-demand, or e-book formats will not be considered, although an author who has published a novel in one or more of these formats and otherwise meets the entry requirements may submit a manuscript that has not been published anywhere before. A novel written as a joint effort by two or more eligible people may be submitted as one entry.

Entry Rules

Please note: there is a $40 entry fee for the contest. Checks should be made payable to River City Publishing. This entry fee payment should be submitted with the manuscript.

1. Manuscripts should be fictional work in English and be the original work of the entrant.

2. Manuscripts may not be represented by an agent. They must be submitted by the author.

3. Entries must be postmarked between June 30th, 2012. Submissions postmarked earlier or later than these dates will not be considered.

4. Manuscripts should be submitted in double-spaced 12-point font size (Times Roman is preferred), and on letter-size paper (8.5 x 11 inches) with pages numbered. Each manuscript should be accompanied by (1) a cover letter incorporating a brief synopsis of the novel; (2) a cover page that lists the title of the novel and the author’s name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address (this information should not appear anywhere else in the manuscript); (3) a title page that lists only the title of the novel; (4) and a self-addressed, stamped envelope for prize notification. No manuscripts will be returned. If entrant wants receipt of the submission acknowledged, the entry should also include a self-addressed, stamped postcard.

5. Only hard copy entries will be considered. Entries should be sent by mail or express delivery service. Submissions by fax, e-mail, disk, or any other electronic means will not be considered.

6. Submissions should be addressed as follows:

Fred Bonnie Award Submission
River City Publishing
1719 Mulberry Street
Montgomery, AL 36106

7. Entries are void if they are in whole or in part illegible, incomplete, or damaged. No responsibility is assumed by River City Publishing for late, lost, damaged, incomplete, illegible, postage due, or misdirected mail or entries. Failure to comply with manuscript guidelines may disqualify entries.

8. River City will not provide critiques on any manuscripts.

Judging and Award of Prize

Judging will be performed by publishing professionals designated by River City Publishing. The decisions of the judges with respect to the selection of the finalists and winner and in regard to all matters relating to this contest, including but not limited to the eligibility of entrants, are final and binding.

Manuscripts will be judged on the basis of literary quality, originality, commercial potential, and the strength of any or all of the following: characterization, narrative voice, setting, and plot.

River City Publishing reserves the right not to award a prize if there is an insufficient number of entries or if the judges determine in their absolute discretion that no entry meets the quality standards established to select a winner.

No communication or correspondence with respect to individual submissions will be answered.

Prizes are not transferable and may not be substituted except by the sponsor. All taxes and fees assessed in connection with the prize are the responsibility of the winner.

1. By entering this contest, entrants (1) agree to abide by these rules; (2) represent that their entry is their original, unpublished work and they are the sole and exclusive copyright holder of the work; and (3) agree that River City Publishing shall have no responsibility or liability for any injury, loss, or damage of any kind, arising out of participation in this contest or the acceptance, use, or misuse of the prize.

2. By entering this contest, the winner (1) agrees to execute, himself/herself and without an agent, River City Publishing’s standard publishing agreement granting to River City Publishing standard publishing rights (including but not limited to world print publishing, audio, film, and electronic rights) with respect to the winning entry. The agreement must be signed within thirty days of delivery to the winner. Entry into the contest constitutes the entrant’s agreement to sign such a contract if he/she is chosen the winner. River City reserves the right not to publish the winning entrant’s book, subject to terms of the publishing agreement. The winner (2) grants to River City the right to edit, publish, promote, and otherwise use the submission according to the terms and conditions of River City’s standard publishing contract. The winner (3) grants to River City the right to use his/her winning entry, name, and likeness for any advertising, promotional, trade, or any other purpose without further compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law. The winner will be required to execute and return an Affidavit of Eligibility and Release within thirty days of notification.

3. Any dispute arising from this contest will be determined according to the laws of the State of Alabama, without reference to its conflict of law principals, and the entrant consents to the personal jurisdiction of the State and Federal Courts located in Montgomery County and agrees that such courts have exclusive rights over all such disputes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I submitted a manuscript for the last contest. Can I resubmit it for the next contest?

A: Yes, resubmitted manuscripts are accepted.

Q: May I enter more than one manuscript?

A: Yes, multiple entries from the same author are allowed, but each submission must be mailed separately, and each submission requires its own entry fee.

Q: Do the manuscripts have to be Southern?

A: Although River City publishes primarily Southern literary fiction and nonfiction, entries (and winners) for the Fred Bonnie Memorial Award are not limited to novels about the South or by Southern authors. Previous submissions came from all over the United States and several other countries; finalists have been from New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, California, Maryland, New Mexico, and Virginia.

Q: I self-published a novel a few years ago. Am I still eligible to enter the contest?

A: Yes. Authors who have self-published one or more novels are eligible to enter the contest. However, the self-published novel is not eligible for consideration.

Q: I have had a novel published overseas. Can I enter the contest?

A: No. Anyone who has had a novel published by a commercial, royalty-based publisher anywhere is not eligible to enter the contest.

Q: I have a manuscript for a children’s science fiction novel. Can I enter it in the contest?

A: Yes, any kind novel may be submitted. However, the same evaluation criteria are used on all submissions.

Past Award Winners

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Lisa Borders ( Somerville, Massachusetts)

Course of the Waterman by Nancy Taylor Robson ( Galena, Maryland)

The Space Between by Kali VanBaale ( Bondurant, Iowa)

Shrapnel by Marie Manilla (Huntington, WV)

Girls from Soldier Creek by Patricia Foster (Iowa City, IA)