21 Contests & Workshops

Please note: Our contests are open to Young Adult, Middle Grade, and New Adult submissions. The manuscript MUST be complete. We've had multiple requests for partials and fulls from agent judges, so your manuscript should be ready to send them if they ask.

Current Contest: Red Light/Green Light

How the Contest Works
On entry day, contestants will submit their entries via the entry form we'll post, and the first 50 entries will be given a spot in the contest--25 from our Eastern Standard Time window, and 25 from our Pacific Time window! Then, an agent judge will choose the top 25 entries from the contestants' first sentences. The top 25 will be narrowed down to 10 based on the first two sentences of their manuscript. Next, the agent will read the top 10 contestants' first pages to narrow the contestants down to 5. Lastly, in the final round, the agent will read a pitch + first chapter from the top 5 contestants to determine the winner. 

Contestants and observers alike will be able to see which manuscripts start with a great first sentence and continue to build a strong foundation, and will hopefully be able to learn something new about what makes a strong start to a manuscript! This round of Red Light/Green Light will begin June 23rd and conclude July 28th.

1st Five Pages Workshops

Our monthly 1st Five Pages Workshops begin the first Saturday of every month. We accept the first five middle grade or young adult manuscripts received by email starting at Noon EST. Our permanent mentors will work alongside a guest mentor to tell each participant what we see in those first five pages with respect to voice, plot, characters, setting, pacing and writing in general. Depending on the mentor's schedule, they may comment only on the initial entries, on the initial entry and one revision, or on all subsequent revisions. Participants also get feedback and comments from peers, and have the opportunity to post two revisions so they can up with the strongest possible beginning.

Our upcoming mentor schedule is posted here:


The rules are simple. We ask that you follow all of them, every week for the duration of the workshop. Properly formatting your entry is critical.

Entries that do not meet all of the criteria below will be disqualified, because we simply don't have time to reformat them for you. Read all the rules and be prepared to follow them each week, otherwise it isn't fair to take up space in the workshop. We always have more entries than we can accept in any given month.

1. Manuscripts must be middle grade, young adult, or college-age new adult.

2. Manuscripts do not need to be completed, but must be your own, original work.

3. Send us the first five pages, with each page approximately 250 words, max 1250 words.

4. Do NOT send any synopsis or summary information.

5. Make sure your entry is properly formatted, in plain text format, and sent IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL, single spaced, with a blank line between all paragraphs expect the header information. No attachments.

Before sending it to us, we suggest that you email your entry to yourself so you can see how it will come out.

Your entry MUST look like this:

Name: Your name
Genre: Young Adult XXX or Middle Grade XXX
Title: Your title

The body of the text, max 1250 words, must be SINGLE SPACED. There MUST be an EMPTY LINE BETWEEN paragraphs. (Hit the 'Enter' button twice.)

If your manuscript is formatted in standard manuscript format, double-spaced with indents at the beginning of each paragraph and no extra space before or after paragraphs, then this will not come through correctly for reading on the web. The easiest way to get the formatting the way that we need it is to copy your snippet, put it into a clean MS Word document, select all the text, change the paragraph spacing to single space, then do a search and replace for ^p and replace it with ^p^p. This will take each paragraph break and turn it into two paragraph breaks. Or, of course, you can go through and hit the enter button again a second time after each individual paragraph.

Create a new email through an email provider other than GMAIL and click on the format text tab at the top of the message. Gmail seems to insert AN EXTRA line for every blank line. It may even insert a blank line between the header information, which should have NO blank lines between paragraphs. To get around the gmail problem, the easiest thing to do is use another email provider if you already have one, or to create a free hotmail account.

In your blank email message, set the message format to “Rich Text,” then paste in the text of your entry.
7. Be prepared to receive honest, constructive feedback EVERY week and to participate through the entire workshop. Not all feedback will be positive. The purpose of the workshop is to help you improve your manuscript, not to tell you that it is wonderful.

8. Provide honest, constructive, and thoughtful feedback to EACH of your fellow workshop participants in a kind and courteous manner by Thursday night EVERY week.

9. Send the revised version of the manuscript back to us--following all the above rules--by 6:00 PM on Sunday nights, properly formatted, every week until the end of the workshop.

That's it. If it sounds like a pain, remember that you will have to understand email formatting to be able to submit to agents when your entry is ready to query.

We start accepting new workshop entries at noon (Eastern Time) on the first Saturday of the every month. Send entries to AYAPLit [at] gmail dot com.

Accepted entries will be posted at noon on the first Monday of the month, at which time the workshop will officially begin.


  1. OH this is a fun contest , thank you!

  2. I like this contest its very fun! Love all the books...hope I win :-)

  3. ok love to spread the word on this series.

  4. This sounds like a fabulous ideas. What's better than workshops? Well... Nothing! :)

  5. GREAT! I have put this into my smart phone with plenty of rings and buzzers to remind me of the next one...fingers ready.

  6. Yes, it was helpful! Will keep in mind for next month.

  7. Hi there! Just found your blog. Are you still doing the workshops in 2012?

  8. Just sent...fingers crossed! :)

  9. I'm a new follower, and I just have to say that I love your blog! I can't wait to read the submissions when they are up.

  10. where is the email adress?

  11. Ooh, I'd love to have Nancy Holder as a mentor! So it's the first Saturday every month?

  12. Is that noon Eastern or Central Time?

  13. I was wondering the same- is that Eastern or Central?

  14. The first Saturday of December is the 7th and I just saw that it started on the 2nd--did I mess up the dates for this month?

  15. Will you be offering this in January?

  16. Looking foward to submitting to the next first 5 workshop, and I noticed a small typo (I think) in that section. of this page. It says that participants "have the opportunity to opportunity to post two revisions so they can up with the strongest possible beginning." I'm not really sure if I'm just reading it wrong or if it's a typo. In any case, I'm really looking forward to submitting my work so others can find my typos!

  17. "On entry day, contestants will submit their entries via the entry form we'll post"
    Does this mean you are posting the entry form on entry day?


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