The Inkfort Publishing Derby


The Publishing Derby is an annual event hosted by Inkfort where authors are challenged to hone their skills, practice their marketing, get some feedback, and maybe even earn a bit of money for their efforts.

So, how’s it work?

The Process

After sign-up is complete and authors have entered the event, each author is presented with the year’s selection of pre-made covers, each equipped with a title and a generic pen name. The authors then rank the covers from favorite to least favorite, along with one ‘veto’ choice that they do not want to receive.

Once everyone has ranked their choices, cover distribution begins. Authors are selected in a random order, and assigned the highest cover on their ranked list that is still available. Thus, the first author drawn receives the #1 cover on their list. The second author receives the #1 cover on their list, unless it was taken by the first author, in which case they receive their #2 cover. Working through the list of entered authors, all covers are distributed in this manner.

With the covers handed out, the writing phase begins. Whatever cover an author received, that serves as the prompt for a short story, novella, or book., which the authors have two months to write. The minimum length for the stories is 10,000 words, but there is no maximum. Once the covers have been handed out, the derby is anonymous – authors cannot reveal which cover they received, their assigned pen name, or any details about their story. This gives contestants a more even footing, and prevents more established authors from unfairly leveraging an existing readership.

Following the two month writing period there will likewise be designated periods of time for beta reading, editing, and advance reviews. At the end of it all comes the big day – publishing! Each author who has finished can publish their story, anonymously under their assigned pen name, and enjoy a friendly competition to see who can curry the most attention for their piece!

Interested in the 2021 Publishing Derby?

Check out 2020’s winners!

The derby will always be free, but people have asked us, so if you’d like to contribute you can do so here: