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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Out of the Slush Pile, 2011 Edition

Last year's contest for unpublished novelists generated a favorable response, and several people indicated they’d like the opportunity to participate in a similar event again.

We heard you, Novel Journey readers, and now, here’s your chance.

OUT OF THE SLUSH PILE 2011, Novel Journey’s Second Fifteen Minutes of Fame Contest will be similar to last year’s beta version, but with variations in the duration, and in the judging.

Duration: Instead of judging each category twice in the year, we’ll do each category only once. The contest will run through the second half of the year only.

Judging: We'll provide a little more feedback on the entries, giving some specifics as to the judges' opinion concerning what could be improved and where the writer shines.

Otherwise, the rules will be pretty much the same:

•We’ll have six mini-contests, one in each of six categories. See schedule below.

•Prizes: Each winning entry will be posted in this blog on the dates listed below and will be eligible to win the Grand Prize.

•In December, we’ll announce the Grand Prize, which will be chosen from the previous six winners by a separate panel of judges. The winning entry will be submitted to appropriate 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 This is simply an opportunity for unpublished writers to bring attention to their work.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 can 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Any unpublished novelist not affiliated with Novel Journey who has a completed manuscript ready to pitch. For these purposes, self-published authors are considered unpublished. Authors of published articles, poetry, plays, and works of nonfiction are eligible if they have never had a novel published by a traditional publisher.

How does an interested writer enter?

Download the Entry Form.

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 format would you like? Email attachment? Body of the email?

I’m glad you asked! A Microsoft Word document is best; if you don’t have MS Word, .rtf will suffice.

Last year we accepted entries pasted into the email, and even PDF files in one or two cases. But Word attachments are easiest for us to process.

My first chapter is really short. Can I send two?

My first chapter is really long. Can I send the whole thing?

I have a prologue. Can I send it in addition to the first chapter?

Answer to all three questions: Yes. Probably.

We want to a good sampling of your writing, but we don’t want to have to wade through a novella-length chapter, either. If you submit up between 3 – 4000 words, that should be about right.

Use your best judgment. If your first chapter is 4239 words, don’t cut it off at 4000; send us the whole thing. If your prologue + first chapter is 3000 words, that should be sufficient; don’t send half the next chapter just to bring the count up to 4000.

What categories will we have to choose from?

Historical Fiction (WWII era and before) – this means all historical fiction, including romance or mystery

Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Cozy Mysteries

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

Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction

Contemporary Romance (NOT historical)

Speculative (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).

Here’s this year’s schedule:

Historical Fiction, including Historical Romance

Submission Deadline: 11:59 pm EDT May 10, 2011 – Winner Announced: June 13, 2011

Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Cozy Mystery

Submission Deadline: 11:59 pm EDT June 10, 2011 – Winner Announced: July 11 2011

Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Submission Deadline: 11:59 pm EDT July 10, 2011 – Winner Announced: August 8, 2011

Middle Grade/Young Adult

Submission Deadline: 11:59 pm EDT August 10, 2011 – Winner Announced: September 12, 2011

Contemporary Romance

Submission Deadline: 11:59 pm EDT September 10, 2011 – Winner Announced: October 10, 2011


Submission Deadline: 11:59 pm EDT October 10, 2011 – Winner Announced: November 14, 2011

Grand Prize:

Each of the winners of the six mini-contests will be entered for the Grand Prize. This winner will be announced on December 12, 2011.

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 publishers. So this is a free opportunity to get your name and your work out there where it will be seen by industry professionals.

When will you start taking entries?




In every category?

Yes. The deadlines listed above are the last dates we’ll accept entries, but you may send in your entry for any of the categories anytime before the date listed.

Do you offer any guarantees?

Yes. If you enter, we promise we’ll do our level best to give you a fair shake.

Is that a money-back guarantee?

Absolutely! You must be satisfied or your entry fee will be refunded.

I didn’t think there was an entry fee.

There isn’t; you get what you pay for, don’t you know.

I’m getting confused. Could you recap all that for me?


•The contest is for unpublished novelists.

•Enter by the dates above – a story can be entered in only one category, but different stories can be entered in different categories.

•Download Entry Form

•Include your first chapter and a synopsis.

•No entry fee.

•Email entries to:

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Contact Yvonne Anderson, contest administrator, at the above email address.


  1. This is so exciting! I am looking forward to this! I have two completed and one nearly completed novels. They are in three different categories.

    Thank you so much for putting this contest together!

  2. Awesome! I am wondering how long should the synopsis be? Agent and editors have various requirements so I just wanted to know what you were looking for.

  3. When can we begin submissions for 2012 since I missed this year? - Emily


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