Many publishing imprints are closed to un-agented authors. A good way to circumvent this closed door policy is to enter writing contests.
Writing contests are an excellent way to receive feedback on your unpublished manuscript and possibly have it read by an editor or agent. Before my first book, Spell Check, was published, I targeted writing contests that had editors and agents in my genre as final judges. This led to Spell Check winning the PNWA Literary Contest’s Zola Award, and First Place in my category (Young Adult). Not only did I earn a $600.00 prize, Spell Check was taken to Acquisitions by a senior editor at Scholastic (alas, where it was ultimately turned down).
I often judge the Heart to Heart Contest sponsored by the San Francisco Area Romance Writers. It is now open for entries! In the past, this contest has yielded many requests for full manuscripts from the final judges. Check them out below!
CONTEST CATEGORIES: Contemporary, Erotic, Historical, Paranormal, and Young Adult
WHAT TO ENTER: Send us that magical scene in which your hero and heroine meet for the first time, maximum 15 pages. (An optional one-page set-up may be included, but will not be judged)
Electronic submissions only — Rich Text Format (.rft) only
Cost: $15 for SFA-RWA members, $20 for non-members
Eligibility: Open to all writers unpublished by an RWA-approved publisher as of the entry deadline
Scoring: Scoring is based on 20 key areas. First round entries receive fours scores with the lowest being dropped.
Top three entries will be forwarded to the final judges.
August 31, 2014 – Deadline for submissions
October 5, 2014 – First-round finalists notification
November 6, 2014 – Final round winners announced
FIRST ROUND JUDGES: Our first round judges include RWA PRO and PAN members. Each entry is matched with at least one published author.
FINAL JUDGES: Three in each category: one agent, one print editor, and one e-pub editor. Judges listed below.
TOP PRIZE: Certificate.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Please visit http://sfarwa.net/contest-rules.htm.
For questions, email our contest coordinator at email@example.com.
Chelsey Emmelhainz, Harper Collins, Print Editor
Emmanuelle Morgen, Stonesong, E-Pub Editor
Jay Austin, EIC, Agent
Tera Kleinfelter, Samhain, E-Pub Editor
TBD, Print Editor
Nicole Fisher, Avon, Print Editor
Gwen Hayes, Entangled, E-Pub Editor
Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Agent
Leis Pederson, Berkeley, Print Editor
Kerri Buckley, Carina Press, E-Pub Editor
Tamar Rydzinski, Laura Dail Literary Agency, Agent
Natashya Wilson, HQN, Print Editor
Kimberly Blythe, Omnific Publishing, E-Pub Editor
Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary, Agent