First Chapter Contest

Important Rules, Dates, and Deadlines

Make sure to scroll all the way down for complete rules and instructions!

The first chapter contest is only open to official registrants of the conference. Click here to register. First chapter contest entries may be purchased during or after registration, as long as they are purchased prior to the contest submission deadline.

ENTRY FEE: $20 per entry. Fee includes a critique from three separate category judges. Critiques will be emailed to participants within one week of the conference. Limit FIVE total entries per attendee (only TWO entries allowed in the same category).

DEADLINE: All entries must be submitted by February 6, 2018, at 10 p.m. MST. 

WORD COUNT LIMIT: No more than 3,000 words. If your chapter is over 3,000 words, cut off your entry at 3,000. If it is less than 3,000, still only submit the first chapter.

LIMITATIONS: Contest entry fees are non-refundable. The Storymakers Conference is not responsible for entries that are disqualified due to rule violation.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three places in each category. A cash prize of (at least) $200.00 is awarded as the Grand Prize.

LDStorymakers is the best place for writers to realize they’re not crazy, they’re special! Janette Rallison

Please Read the Following 8 Instructions Carefully

**If you do not follow all submisson rules, your entry will be disqualified.**


  1. All entries must be the original work of the author.
  2. Eligibility:
  • Published authors are not eligible, which is defined as any author who has signed a publishing contract by the contest deadline (exceptions: published short stories, compilations, or magazine articles).
  • Authors who are represented by a literary agent are not eligible, whether or not they have sold a book.
  • Self-published authors who have not yet reached a compensation level of $100 are eligible to enter. NOTE: Authors are responsible for checking their own income to see if they qualify. Posting your work to your blog or website does not classify you as published. If you have not yet self-published your work, but intend to do so, please refrain from publishing until after contest winners are announced.
  1. This is a First Chapter contest only. If you submit a prologue AND a first chapter, your entry will be disqualified. If you submit a prologue, your entry will be disqualified. First chapters ONLY.
  2. If your entry is part of a trilogy or series, please only submit the first chapter of the FIRST manuscript in your series. First chapters submitted from sequels will be disqualified.
  3. If your chapter placed in a previous year, you may not enter a chapter from the same book, even if it is substantially revised or completely new material.
  4. Each entry must be submitted in its own, SEPARATE email.
  5. We welcome entries of all genres, for all audiences, but do not accept entries with graphic language, extreme violence, or sex scenes.
  6. Judging criteria include, but are not limited to: opening hook, characterization, voice, conflict, dialogue, pacing, and grammar/mechanical errors. Judges also note if you followed manuscript formatting guidelines.














Entry Checklist

**Please follow all steps carefully. Your entry will lose points if not submitted correctly.**


Did you...

  • Use the same name you registered for the conference with and not a pen name?
  • Put in the right category #?
  • Make sure your subject line follows this format: Category #, Title?
  • Attach entry as a Word or Google document (No PDF’s)?
  • Create a separate email for each entry (yes, even if they are in the same category)?
  • Save file with this filename format: category#.TITLE.doc
    • Example: category3.LOVETHERIGHTMAN.doc
  • Send to no later than 10 p.m. MST, February 6, 2018?

Proper Cover Page Format

Did you...

  • Make sure there’s no page number?
  • Set it as Left aligned?
  • Include title, category name, and approximate word count (you may subtract word count of cover page from your word count, if needed)?
  • Check that your entry has a word count of 3,000 or less? (Entries with more than 3,000 words will be disqualified)

Proper Internal Format

Check to make sure your entry has...

  • 12 point, Times New Roman font.
  • 1-inch margins and indented paragraphs.
  • Nothing in header or footer except page #.
  • Page #’s in consecutive order starting with 1 on the first page of your chapter (not on the cover sheet).

Remember: the ONLY place your name should appear is in the body of your email!

If you have checked all of the above, then go ahead and submit by 10 p.m. MST, February 6, 2018!


Q: If my chapter is less than 3,000 words, should I send some of Chapter Two to make up the difference?

A: No need! Judges will be judging first chapters only. No prologues. No sneak-peaks at Chapter Two, please.

Q: I can’t figure out how to get my page #’s to start with 1 on the first page of my chapter. What do I do?

A: Google is your friend. Also, the Storymakers First Chapter Support Group is a great resource for this kind of technical help.

Q: I can’t figure out which category to choose. My story could fit into two or three of them! What should I do?

A: See previous answer. And remember that the judges will be judging you against other entries in the category you choose. In general, focus on the big umbrella your story falls under before worrying about the smaller umbrellas.

Q: My prologue is so much better than my first chapter. Why can’t I submit it?

A: The purpose of a prologue and the purpose of a first chapter are quite different from each other, and often do not include the same story elements. The no-prologues rule is to save our judges from having to compare apples and oranges. Don’t try to pass your orange off as an apple. Pick a better apple or shine up the one you’ve got!

Q: Why aren’t there precise details about the prizes?

A: We won’t know how much we have available to award as cash prizes until we know how many people have entered, and information about which agents will request materials from the winners usually comes later in the year as well.

Q: I placed in a previous year. Why can’t I re-enter a revised version of my chapter this year? What if it’s completely different material?

A: First of all, congratulations on placing! Second, it’s our belief that once a book has supplied a winning chapter, it has had its turn in the spotlight. However, we welcome chapters from different books you’d like to enter that haven’t placed in previous conest years.


Have a question not answered here? Feel free to ask in the Storymakers First Chapter Support Group, or you can email us directly at

Good luck, and we look forward to another great First Chapter Contest!

2017 First Chapter Contest Winners

Grand Prize Winner

Erin Stewart


First Place: Jana King

Second Place: Lonette Anderson

Third Place: Jen Johnson

Romance/Women's Fiction

First Place: Daniel Noyes

Second Place: Jennifer Johnson

Third Place: Jessica Kendall




First Place: Emily Poole

Second Place: Jean Newman

Third Place: Daniel Noyes


Adult Speculative

First Place: Laura Taggart

Second Place: Nichole Eck

Third Place: Tricia Kornelis


First Place: Krista Isaacson

Second Place: Michelle Forstrom

Third Place: Whitney Hemsath


YA Historical/Epic Fantasy

First Place: Ellie Whitney

Second Place: Kyra Palmer

Third Place: Wendy Swore


Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy

First Place: Daniel Noyes

Second Place: Leah Garriott

Third Place: Kyra Palmer



Young Adult General

First Place: Linda White

Second Place: Emily Inouye-Huey

Third Place: Rachel Larsen


Young Adult Sci-Fi/ Dystopian

First Place: Carol Michel Storey

Second Place: Mikki Tolley

Third Place: Janelle Amundsen


Middle Grade

First Place: Wendy Swore

Second Place: Dana Black

Third Place: Rachel Stones


Thank you to all who entered the contest!