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Sunday, October 11, 2009

ANNOUNCING: A New Writing Contest

As you may have noticed, once a month we do a column about writing awards. Starting in 2010, we’ll try something new: instead of talking about other contests, we’ll conduct one of our own.

Out of the Slush Pile: The Novel Journey Fifteen Minutes of Fame Contest

Here’s how it will work:

•Beginning in January, 2010, we’ll have twelve monthly mini-contests. See schedule below.

•Each month’s winning entry will be published in this column on the 2nd Monday of the month
•In January, 2011 we’ll announce the Grand Prize for Best of the Year. The winning entry will
be submitted to a panel of agents and editors, and the author will receive an original Muse created especially for the winner.
• No money will exchange hands; no entry fee is required, and no monetary prize will be awarded. This is simply an opportunity for unpublished writers to bring attention to their work. If agents or editors reading these entries want to see more, they c
an contact us and we will get them in touch with the winning author.

Who can enter?
Any unpublished novelist not affiliated with Novel Journey who has a completed manuscript ready to pitch.

How does an interested writer enter?
Download the entry form here. Fill it out and email it, along with your complete first chapter and a synopsis, to Please do not send the entire manuscript; only the first chapter and synopsis will be read. However, we do ask that the manuscript be complete, so if an agent or editor is interested, you will be prepared to provide it.

What categories will we have to choose from?
• Historical Fiction (WWII era and before) – this includes all historical fiction, including romance
• Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Cozy Mysteries

• Contemporary Fiction/Women’s Fiction (from 1950 to the present)

• Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction

• Contemporary Romance (NOT historical)

• Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror

Can I enter
in more than one category?
Yes, if it’s a different novel. You may enter a novel only once – a story may not be submitted in two different categories (that is, you cannot submit the same story as both Mystery and Contemporary Romance); and it may not be submitted again in the same category later in the year.

Why are you taking entries for each category
To give writers a chance to complete their WIPs. If you miss your category the first time around, you’ve got six more months to catch the second deadline.

I’m ready now! When can we enter?
You may submit at any time – yes, even today. However, it's not first come-first serve, so there’s no big hurry.

Here is the schedule for entry deadlines and the announcement of winners:
In January, we’ll judge the first round of Historical Fiction (WWII era and before).
Entries mu
st be received by December 10, 2009; winner will be announced on January 11, 2010.

In February, we’ll judge the first round of Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Cozy Mysteries. Entries must be received by January 10, 2010; winner will be announced on February 8, 2010.

In March, we’ll judge the first round of Contemporary Fiction/Women’s Fiction (1950 to the present). Entries must be received by February 10, 2010; winner will be announced on March 8, 2010.

In April, we’ll judge the first round of Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction.
Entries must be received by March 10, 2010; winner will be announced April 12, 2010.

In May, we’ll judge the first round of Contemporary Romance. Entries must be received by April 10, 2010; winner will be announced May 10, 2010.

In June, we’ll judge the first round of Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror. Entries must be received by May 10, 2010; winner will be announced June 14, 2010.

In July, we’ll start over with Historicals. Entries must be received by June 10; winner will be announced on July 12.

August: Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Cozies. Entries must be received by July 10; winner announced on August 9.

September: Contemporary Fiction/Women’s Fiction. Entries must be received by August 10; winner announced on September 13.

October: Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction. Entries must be received by September 10; winner announced October 11.

November: Contemporary Romance. Entries must be received by October
10; winner announced November 8.

December: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror. En
tries must be received by November 10; winner announced December 13.

January, 2011: Grand Prize: Best of the Year. Winner will be selected from the previous winners and will be announced on
January 10, 2011.

Who are the judges?
The Novel Journey staff.

Can I bribe them?
Though chocolate will never be rejected, it won’t put your entry at the top of the heap. It will only make us fat and happy.

Suppose I’m a winner. How many people are likely to see my chapter when it’s posted? Do you have a lot of agents and editors in your readership?
We can't give you an exact figure, but we can tell you that a lot of people in the business read this blog. So whatever the numbers, you can be assured that winning entries will get exposure. Moreover, the Grand Prize winner will be guaranteed review by a panel of agents and editors. So this is a free opportunity to get your name and your work out there where it will be seen by industry professionals.

I drafted a novel some time back and I think it might have potential. Should I make revisions, polish it up and get it ready to submit?
What are you waiting for? Sit! Write! Send!

We’re looking forward to seeing your entries. And don’t forget the chocolate.


  1. Wow! This is an awesome opportunity. Thank you. I probably will not make the first round, but will definitely make it for the second round of the contest. I am excited and can't wait to enter my first chapter. My category will be historical fiction.
    Thank you so much, once again, for this opportunity.

  2. Sounds like fun.

    Will you be posting both the synopsis and first chapter for all to read or only the chapter?

  3. Thanks for heading this up, Y. This should be some great exposure for someone who's "ripe".

    Hope everyone spreads the word to those who ought to be published but aren't yet.

  4. Wow! Brilliant! I'll just have to try not to have it out somewhere that doesn't allow simultaneous submissions at the right time.

  5. I'm so jazzed. Great idea. :)

  6. Thanks for this opportunity. I'll try to have my novel, Sunrise in the Cloud Forest, ready for the August deadline.

    ~ Bert Johnston

  7. This does sound exciting,I am hoping to enter. I too wonder about posting the author's chapter online. I have heard from a few different people how we aren't supposed to post stuff online because it would be considered published and an agent or editor wouldn't be interested. Am I mistaken? Thanks. ~J

  8. Great idea for a contest. I have a question. My first chapter (really the prologue) is only 500 words long; it cannot be combined with the second chapter because of a POV change. Can I include chapter one AND chapter two in my entry? That would be a total of 1600 words, well within the 3500 word limit. I want to make sure I am not disqualified for not following the rules exactly.


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