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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Launch Pad 2013: The Countdown Begins

This year’s edition of our popular contest for unpublished novelists is ready for take-off. 

Moving into the fourth year of Novel Rocket’s Launch Pad Contest: Boosting You Out of The Slush Pile, we continue the tradition and offer a new opportunity.

A number of past participants have found their Launch Pad experience a boost to their writing careers even though they didn’t win the grand prize. Several—and I don’t mean just one or two—earlier entrants have found representation, signed publishing contracts, or are selling enough copies of self-published work to cover the mortgage; and they credit the opportunity this contest provided them with helping them follow their dream. We’ll trace a few of their journeys in later posts.

Today, however, let’s look at this year’s edition of the contest.

The idea is the same as before. The contest is to help unpublished novelists refine their manuscripts, gain submission experience, and for the grand prize winner, boost that manuscript out of the slush pile and onto the desk of a hand-picked agent.

Each month May through November, we’ll choose a winner of a different category. With the announcement of the winner, the winning entry will be published on this site. Since a good percentage of the publishing world reads this blog, your work will be brought to the attention to a number of people who might be interested.

The category winner, upon providing us with their complete manuscript and a proposal, will move on to the final round. A new panel of judges (different from the category judges) will choose one of those finalists to be our Grand Prize winner.

The Grand Prize is an engraved blown glass rocket trophy. (The 2012 award is pictured at the beginning of this post). In addition, the winner will be matched up with an agent or editor specially selected based upon the writer’s genre, intended audience, and specific needs.

We’ve made a few changes, notably in the categories. After considering our options, we decided to drop the Historical category and broaden the Romance genre to include romances set in any time period.

If you write historical stories that aren’t romances, we still have a place for you. Is yours a historical mystery a la Sherlock Holmes? That’s a good fit in our first category, Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Thriller. How about a biblically-based drama about the life and times of Zerubbabel? That could go in our second category, General Fiction. A time travel piece where a modern-day dude finds himself facing a club-wielding crazy in the Stone Age? Check “Speculative Fiction” on your entry form.

Incorporating historicals in the other genres gave us the opportunity to add a new category, which we’d discussed earlier but weren’t sure how it might work: Nonfiction.

What? But you’re Novel Rocket, you say? You’re right; our focus, traditionally, has been on fiction. But hey, nonfiction writers are people too. They deserve a place in this world as well as a place in our contest.

“Nonfiction” covers a broad range. If you’re writing book-length fiction, we’d love to see it, whether it’s memoir, history, biography, a collection of essays, travelogue, self-help or how-to, Bible study or devotional – we only ask that it not go against the Judeo/Christian worldview. Why? We’re trying to be fair. The judges are Christians, and it would be difficult for them to give an unbiased assessment of an entry they find personally offensive. Submissions may be secular; we’re not limiting this category to Christian subjects. We only ask that nonfiction entries not denigrate God, the Bible, or Christian teachings.

Submissions to all categories are now open. However, each has a different deadline, and the first one is in April. So mark these on your calendar:

Submission Deadline: April 10, 2013
Winner Announced: May 13, 2013

General Fiction
Submission Deadline: May 10, 2013
Winner Announced: June 10, 2013

Submission Deadline:  June 10, 2013
Winner Announced: July 8, 2013

Middle Grade/Young Adult
Submission Deadline:  July 10, 2013
Winner Announced: August 12, 2013

Submission Deadline:  August 10, 2013
Winner Announced: September 9, 2013

Speculative Fiction
Submission Deadline: September 10, 2013
Winner Announced: October 14, 2013

Grand Prize Winner (chosen from the monthly category winners) announced December 9, 2013

Other than the change in categories, the contest will work pretty much as it did last year. The complete rules can be found on the Launch Pad tab, but here’s an overview:

1. Prepare your submission, consisting of the first 3,000 to 4,000 words of your manuscript and a 1- to 2-page synopsis, according to the submission requirements.
2. Download and complete the official entry form.
3. Using the PayPal button at the bottom of the page on the Launch Pad tab, make your payment of $45 per entry.
4. Send your entry form and submission as email attachments to us at NovelRocketContest at

We will acknowledge receipt of your entry. Note: last year, we had a little trouble with entries not coming through. Two or three times, we found the payment in the PayPal account but no matching submissions in our Inbox. To the best of our knowledge, we caught it each time and were able to connect with the entrants. But we hate to have anyone slip through the cracks. If you don’t receive an acknowledgement within a couple days after sending your entry, don’t be shy; give us another holler.

Questions? The NovelRocketContest at gmail account is manned by a real live human who loves to answer promptly. (She loves it – really!) Having difficulty downloading the entry form? She can send you one by email. She’s fairly versatile, for an earthling.

Have thoughts about your experience with a previous year’s event? The same human who answers questions loves to hear that sort of thing too. So if you have a glowing testimonial you’d like to share, or a suggestion for doing things differently next time around, please let us know.

We’re looking forward to receiving some wonderful submissions again this year.

Happy writing!
When she's not manning the NovelRocketContest Gmail account, Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world. Check out her space fantasy series, Gateway to Gannah, and her blog at Y'sWords. She's a biweekly contributor to the Speculative Faith site for readers and writers of Christian Speculative Fiction. Beginning next month, she'll also be on The Borrowed Book team.


  1. Hi , my name is Genka Bliznashka I have published a book already its fiction the name is ''Planet Stories'' its on Google but dosen't sell yet it seems like nobody knows it is this qualify me for your competiotion
    Its been a while since its been published and put for sale , but its still like unknown
    Thank you Genka Bliznashka email

  2. Great opportunity! Will tweet this around for my writer friends!


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