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.
Please Read the Following 8 Instructions Carefully**If you do not follow all submisson rules, your entry will be disqualified.**
- All entries must be the original work of the author.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Each entry must be submitted in its own, SEPARATE email.
- We welcome entries of all genres, for all audiences, but do not accept entries with graphic language, extreme violence, or sex scenes.
- 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.
CATEGORY 1 – ADULT SPECULATIVE
CATEGORY 2 – MYSTERY/SUSPENSE
CATEGORY 3 – ROMANCE
CATEGORY 4 – GENERAL FICTION & HISTORICAL
CATEGORY 5 – YOUNG ADULT GENERAL & HISTORICAL FICTION
CATEGORY 6 – YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION/DYSTOPIAN
CATEGORY 7 – YOUNG ADULT CONTEMPORARY FANTASY
CATEGORY 8 – YOUNG ADULT HISTORICAL & EPIC FANTASY
CATEGORY 9 – MIDDLE GRADE FICTION
CATEGORY 10 – NON-FICTION
Entry Checklist**Please follow all steps carefully. Your entry will lose points if not submitted correctly.**
PROPER EMAIL FORMAT
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 10 p.m. MST, February 6, 2018?
Proper Cover Page Format
- 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).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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.
Good luck, and we look forward to another great First Chapter Contest!
Grand Prize Winner
First Place: Jana King
Second Place: Lonette Anderson
Third Place: Jen Johnson
First Place: Daniel Noyes
Second Place: Jennifer Johnson
Third Place: Jessica Kendall
First Place: Emily Poole
Second Place: Jean Newman
Third Place: Daniel Noyes
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
First Place: Wendy Swore
Second Place: Dana Black
Third Place: Rachel Stones