2018-2019 Novel Writing Contest

HSW 2018-2019 Manuscript Contest

Winner will have his/her manuscript submitted to a Big 5 acquiring editor.

This contest is closed now. Submissions are in and we are waiting for the final results in November.


Submission Guidelines

1. You must submit pages – in this order—Cover sheet with name and title. Query letter (including word count and genre), 3-paragraph blurb, and the first four pages of your manuscript. Pages are to be stapled, not paper clipped, together.

2. Manuscript must be 100% complete by the August meeting.

3. You must use 12 pt size Times New Roman (or similar) font and have 1-inch margins, single-spaced.

4. Minimum length of finished manuscript is 70,000 words for adult fiction; 65,000 for YA, and a maximum length of 100,000 words.

5. We’re not accepting previously published works, traditional or independent.

6. We’re not accepting non-fiction, memoirs, biographies, middle grade or younger.

7. You must state your manuscript’s genre and sub-genre on your query letter. This means you can’t simply say “Romance;” it needs to be classified as Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, Erotic Romance, etc.

8. I strongly encourage you to participate in a critique group and have your work edited.

9. You must use your legal name – no pennames. In the query, be sure to state if you have an agent representing you.

10. You must hand in a hard copy—no electronic submissions.

11. To determine the final winner, the four finalists may be asked to turn in additional chapters.



For the HSW Writing Contest Entry

This is due to be turned in at the August 10, 2019 meeting. If you are unable to make the meeting,give your packet with all the required items to someone to turn in for you. Remember, you MUST be a current paid member of High Sierra Writers. If you aren’t sure or want to doublecheck, contact Rene at ruamor@sbcglobal.net.

For the Query Letter:

Here are the 5 basic elements 5 basic for every query letter
Jane Friedman, publisher and author, says: I recommend that every query letter include these elements, in no particular order (except the closing):

What you’re selling: genre/category, word count, title/subtitle
Hook: the meat of the query; 100-200 words is sufficient for most novels (blurb)
Bio: I consider optional for unpublished fiction writers
Personalization: also optional, where you customize the letter for the recipient
Thank you & closing

Four our contest, do include the short bio and don’t forget to list that you’re a member of High Sierra Writers and any other writing groups you’re in. List any contests you might have won or placed in, and any other writing that might have been published. 

Don’t have any writing credits? Mention your education if it applies to the writing. If your career or hobby has anything to do with the subject matter of the book, you can also include that since it speaks to expertise.

For more of Jane’s post on the query letter, go to: https://www.janefriedman.com/query-letters/

From the NY Editors blog, here’s a link with examples of the query letter parts: https://nybookeditors.com/2015/12/how-to-write-a-darn-good-query-letter/

For the Blurb:

While your query letter includes your blurb in the content, Donna is asking for a separate page with just your blurb on it. It can be single-spaced and should be in the three paragraph format.

First off, what is a blurb? (From Reedsy)
A blurb is a short description of a book that is written for promotional purposes. Traditionally, it would be found on the inside back cover of a hardback. As paperback publishing developed, readers began seeing the blurb appearing on the back cover. Generally, 150-200 words are more than enough for a full blurb.

The blurb should do the following:
1. Introduce your main character(s)
At its core, novels are a storytelling medium, and that means your blurb has to be about characters. Consciously or not, readers check out the synopsis to see whether they want to spend time with your main characters. They don’t need to know their entire backstory, though — just enough to understand how they figure into the story’s primary conflict…

2. Set the stage for your primary conflict
The primary conflict is what drives your story. It’s Harry Potter doing battle against Voldemort and his minions, FBI Agent Clarice Starling negotiating with Hannibal Lecter, or Captain Ahab’s obsessive vendetta against a whale. Without a real-world conflict, you don’t have a story readers can sink their teeth into.

3. Establish the stakes
Without consequences, a conflict lacks drama. A blurb that says “Jack Ryan has 24 hours to rescue the Russian ambassador,” isn’t as impactful unless we know what’s at stake: “…his failure will result in certain nuclear war.”

4. Show the reader why this book is for them
Most readers have an idea of the book they’re looking to read next. A well-tuned blurb won’t try to sell everybody on the book — it will help people who already want a book like yours see that it’s for them.

Read the fully article at Reedsy: https://blog.reedsy.com/write-blurb-novel/

For your novel first chapter pages submission:
Use standard 1″ margins, Times New Roman 12-point font. Indent your paragraphs; do not skip spaces between paragraphs, and use Single-space. Most submissions to publishers and agents are double-spaced; however, Donna requests these be single-spaced to use less paper.

What you should have in your packet:

  • Cover page with the book title and your name (not your pen name).
  • One-page Query Letter
  • One-page 3-paragraph Blurb
  • Four Pages of your novel: Single-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point

Staple the packet together. Do not paper clip!