Thursday, January 30, 2014

7 Agent-judged Pitch+Page Contest Starts 2/15/14 -- Get Your MG/YA/NA Manuscripts Ready!

Hi, everyone! I'm interrupting this regularly scheduled Wish I'd Written Post to announce a . . .


Yep. An honest-to-gosh pitch contest. We haven't done one in a few months, because I've been frazzled and Jan Lewis, our contest coordinator extraordinaire, started a new business which has taken her away from the blog a bit. Which is awesome. (See, for deets, if you're curious!) Eh. Hem.

But back to our announcement.

Since Jan and I couldn't do contests without additional help, we're thrilled to announce that Lisa Gail Green is going to be taking over as contest coordinator and agent wrangler on the blog. (See here for Lisa's bio!) And to kick things off, we're going to jump right into a Pitch+Page Contest, which will begin at noon on 2/15/14. We've created a whole new blog (Adventures in YA Contests) just for contest entries, so things will run much more smoothly. But don't let the name fool you. The contest will be open to MG, YA, and NA as well--in the sense of NA as a great book with college age or slightly older protagonists in any genre.

Here are the rules.

  • We will take the first 100 Middle Grade/Young Adult/New Adult entries submitted after noon on 2/15. Please remember that we have many teen readers on this blog who are under 18, so keep the first pages rated PG. (I'm the last person to suggest any kind of censorship for ANY reason, but there is a level of expectation based on what readers are used to seeing here at AYAP.)
  • Entries will consist of a pitch of no more than 150 words and the first sentence of a COMPLETED manuscript.
  • The entries will all be posted on
  • We will invite reading, comments, love, and voting for a favorite — from anyone who wants to participate — until 6:00 AM ET on 2/22. At noon on 2/22 we announce the top 50 entries.
  • The top 50 entries will be judged by a group of respected bloggers, who will score the entries according to a standard scale with two bloggers reading each entry and a third blogger serving as a discrepancy judge if there is a wide disparity in scores.
  • The top 25 entries will be invited to send in their first page in addition to their pitch. These full entries will be scored by a group of authors according to a standard scale — two authors per manuscript with a discrepancy judge available.
  • The top 10 will move on to the agent round
  • Winners will be announced on 3/15/14.
  • All feedback, from the public, bloggers, authors, and agents will be posted as comments on the entry, but the identity of the judge making the comment will not be revealed. You'll just see Judge 1, or Judge 2, etc. You will, however, have a bio for all of the judges involved in that round.

This will give all participants the opportunity to receive feedback that they can apply immediately to their work, and give anyone who is inclined to watch the process the ability to learn vicariously.

Want to participate?

Here (again) is what you need:

  • A completed MG, YA, or NA manuscript.
  • A 150-word pitch for the above.
  • A kickbutt first sentence. (Or at least one that doesn't suck.) Trust me, I KNOW how hard that is!)
  • A fabulous first page. (Or at least one that introduces voice, a story question, and a character doing something.)
  • An iron suit to wear over your prickly skin. Suck it up, Buttercup. Publishing is tough, but if you get good, hard, thoughtful feedback, you can apply it to make your manuscript stand out.)
  • The desire to improve.

That's it.

Now, a word of caution, and I am speaking here from having queried two manuscripts before I sold COMPULSION. Are you listening?

  • You don't need to do a contest to get an agent.
  • You don't need to jump through hoops to court agents online.
  • You don't need prayer beads and voodoo dolls.

Agents want good manuscripts. Publishers want good manuscripts.

If your writing is solid, your query letter makes sense, your approach is professional, and your concept is marketable--and your timing isn't horribly bad--you can query any agent who is open to new clients, and he or she will read at least the pitch and probably a few pages, too.

Although we have agents judging this contest, this contest isn't about just getting your manuscript in front of an agent. It's about getting your manuscript READY for an agent. It's about developing the kind of analytical ability that will let you survive the hard work of the publishing process and hopefully be ready for reviews. It's about giving your manuscript the best possible chance to succeed.

And yes, there will be prizes. An agent critique of your first chapter or first three chapters. And books. GREAT books. Like Stephen King on Writing and some fun things.

So get ready. Are you ready?

See you on 2/15 at noon!

Oh, and P.S. -- Don't forget our Free February First Five Pages Workshop starts at noon on Saturday, February 1. The guest mentor this month is Edgar Award nominated author Todd Strasser, who has 140 books, two feature films, and several TV shows to his credit--among many other things. And we have an incredible new cast of permanent mentors to help us out since Lisa and I were overwhelmed at the end of last year.


  1. Very cool~ off to tweet this!

  2. Voodoo dolls lol, that's just silly. Nobody would do that! But, let's just say someone did have some they needed to get rid of now. How would they go about doing that?

  3. What email address do we send the submission to?


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