Monday, August 31, 2009

Heads Up: Secret Agent Submission Guidelines

Submissions for our next Secret Agent contest will open at noon EDT on Monday, September 7.

This one encompasses some popular genres, so it's going to be a mad dash. I know the lottery system worked well, but, frankly, I can't put that kind of work into this right now. (I do, after all, have to finish the second draft of my WIP. Yanno.) And yes, I AM planning on automating these contests. I just haven't had (or perhaps taken) the time to get that set up with the wonderful person who has come up with a plan for me.

So. I've changed the submission entry time to 12:00 pm EDT. That's NOON EDT. And I've beefed up the rules list, as follows:

  • Submissions WILL NOT OPEN until NOON, EDT on Monday, September 7. Early submissions WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.
  • Submissions are for COMPLETED MANUSCRIPTS ONLY. If you wouldn't want an agent to read the entire thing, DON'T SEND IT. If an "entire thing" doesn't exist, you shouldn't even be reading these rules.
  • Manuscripts THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN IN ANY SECRET AGENT CONTEST THIS YEAR will not be accepted. Yes, I'll be checking. Yes, this is a pain. But when you read the genres below, you'll see why I have to open the playing field to those who haven't had a chance yet. Please note: By "this year" I mean 2009. If you had an entry in a 2008 contest, you may submit.
  • You may submit A DIFFERENT MANUSCRIPT if you've participated in any of the 2009 Secret Agent contests.
  • Submissions are for THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript. And, folks? If you get to 243 words and you hit a period, stop there. Likewise if the last sentence takes you up to 254 words. Never, never, never send a submission that ends in the middle of a
  • 256 words is the maximum (for the sake of ending with a period). I'm annoyed that I have to be so anal retentive this time, but there you have it.
Your submission for this contest should be formatted as follows:


(Followed by the excerpt here.)

  • No "chapter one," chapter titles, etc.
  • You will receive a confirmation email with your post number. I don't always get through quickly. Don't resend.
  • Submissions go to facelesswords(at) They DO NOT GO to my authoressmail address. Those of you who are subscribed to this blog via email will note the latter address as the "from." If you use this address for the contest, I WILL NOT SEE YOUR SUBMISSION.
  • Erm, I think that's everything.
This month's contest will include the following genres:
  • Young adult fiction (all genres)
  • Middle grade fiction (all genres)
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Paranormal Romance (NO other romance; only paranormal)
Questions? Leave them in the comment box. Readers who know the answers should feel free to answer if you beat me to it.

Wow, I'm already tired! (Well, not really.)


  1. Awesome, I am so excited! I love you, I love you! I emailed you to get details on the last contest and sweated that one out because of the genre.

    Special wish: I wish your website had a clock or a running countdown display when the submissions open up...

  2. Tired? I don't know why? LOL

    Reading your post, I had the image of a quilter piecing together some monstrous multi-pieced masterpiece and the varioius bits simply refuse to fall in proper order, laying nice and flat.

    Have you been thanked today? If not, then I'll be the first. :-)

  3. A big thanks from me! You're terrific to set these contests in motion.

    A question about italics: should I send my entry with formatting < i > < / i > or without?

  4. You know, CT, the html tags would be great, because I paste these in html mode, and then have to go back and add italics manually. If you do the tags for me, I won't have to. Ya, I like that. =D

  5. Question: If you entered and placed in the Query Letter contest, does that count as a Secret Agent contest? Just checking.

  6. Good question, Awe-some! Yes, the same rules apply. You'll have to sit this one out. ;)

  7. Fun! I won't be entering this round but I definitely plan to particpate by providing comments.

    Good luck to everyone! :)

  8. I'm turning into a quivering blob about the clock, too.

    How fast do these contests fill up?

    Do you set your clock by the Atomic Clock? What if your clock is faster or slower than my clock?

  9. I'm in college at 12 EDT. How quickly does this contest usually fill up? I'm guessing it will be quicker than the 5 hours it'll take me to get home.

    Or, I could email myself the entry, then sneak out of class to send it off. It's genius.

  10., which I think goes by the atomic clock.

    Hannia--or get someone else to email it for you, which others have done in the past. I expect this round to fill up in mere minutes. o_O

  11. Wow. Sounds like a blast! Thanks for all the time you spend on these contests.

  12. What if the MS you entered earlier in 2009 has been entirely redone and no longer resembles the previous entry other than in character names and main idea (new beginning, new title, etc.)?

    It's probably still a no-go, but I just had to ask. =D

  13. Tenacity is a good thing, just joan. =D But the point isn't to avoid repetitiveness but to open the playing field for those who have not yet had the opportunity to have their first page critiqued by an agent.

    This month's contest includes SF/F AND kid lit, and most of my readers write in one or both of those. So there will be a lot of authors vying for those 50 spaces.

    Hence the beefier rules this time.

  14. But THIS first page hasn't been critiqued by an agent. ;-)

    Okay, I'll stop poking the bear now. hee hee hee

    Best of luck to those who get to enter. I'll be checking back to read the entries and comments (maybe even leave comments of my own though I'm mostly a lurker).

  15. Authoress, thanks for the info about the clock and the HTML codes. My stuff will come formatted up to the eyeballs.

  16. Rats! But that's still great. I hope to see lots of new first pages this time around.

    Even though I'm not entering, I'm still oddly excited...

  17. Wow --that sucks for those of us who have submitted to other SAs in 2009! I guess this month's SA must have already read all our subs and isn't interested so wants a new bunch. I wonder how many other agents have read our subs and will have already decided whether they like them or not. Something to think about.

  18. Anon, that's not the point. The point is that I would like to give new folks a chance to join in. It is going to create a lot more work for me, but it's a mammoth attempt at fairness, since there is, as always, a 50 submission cut-off. In "real life," agents don't have cut-offs to how many submissions they will read.

  19. Fair enough. I thought it was at the request of the SA. Both my novels have been entered previously and are back on the drawing board so I wasn't going to enter anyway. Are you going to put this requirement on all subsequent contests?

  20. Ooooh, YA and MG! I won't be joining the others with their fingers over the "send" button, just waiting for the clock to tick down to that final second--I'm nowhere near completion of my current WIP--but I'm anxious to read these entries.

    Good luck all!

  21. Hurray for Authoress! This is so cool.

    I just finished this book. I've been itching and itching to enter it. Every month I've been so tempted, but I wouldn't do it because, even though it was close, it wasn't quite ready.

    My question: I guess since you're telling us about the clock you use that means you don't post to tell us you're open to submissions? I know you used to, but I haven't been by for the last several contests.

    Thank you, thank you.

    I hope I get in.

  22. Hello, Sally. Several posters asked about the clock to be sure our computers are in synch with her website (Authoress didn't bring up the subject).

    Hope you make it in!

  23. Thanks for providing this opportunity for so many people!

    I do have a question. Do our subs go in the body of an email, or as an attachment?

  24. Yes, I will post the opening of submissions, as always.

    And submissions are ALWAYS in the body of the email. I won't open attachements. =)

  25. Hi Authoress,

    I've been following your site for about a month and just wanted to see if I knew how to post in case I work up the nerve to enter the SA contest.

  26. Hi, Suz. Just in case you didn't see the guidelines, we send submissions by email. Authoress will post the submissions that make it. Good luck!

  27. I didn't notice that. Thanks!

  28. Authoress, since this contest will probably fill up in minutes, here is one more anal retentive question about the infamous clock.

    Are you counting NOON as the time we send the email, or when you receive it?

  29. I'm so tempted, but the one completed and polished novel I have is already out and about. Also, on labor day, I'm planning to sleep in way past noon. =]

    One of these days I'll have something else completed, polished, and ready to go. At least, I'm working on it right now. :P

    I'm looking forward to reading and commenting. Good luck to everybody!

  30. NOON = the time stamp on your email (according). Sending and receiving are virtually simultaneous. If the time stamp is one minute before the hour, you're too early.

  31. Thanks! Fingernail chewing time. :)

  32. Count me in! I've been waiting patiently for this one!


  33. What should be put in the subject line?

    'Secret agent submission'?

  34. Aesome, can't wait until Monday!

  35. I just realized that I will be able to join in on Monday. I don't start college until Tuesday now.

    So, noon EDT. That would be 7am GMT, wouldnt it?

  36. Okay. Does "Screen Name" mean first/last name or something more special?

  37. I've lurked on these contests before, but I'm going to try to enter this time. Thanks for doing these; they're always so interesting!

  38. Weronika ~ I was wondering the same thing. I think your screen name is just the name you want to appear alongside your submission.

    Also, could someone tell me what EDT would be in GMT?

    I've tried to figure this out. At first I thought at noon EDT it would be 7am GMT, but then I realized that it might be 4pm GMT when it's noon EDT.

    Some help here would be extremely appreciated.

  39. Hello Hannia. Look at It has maps of the country's time zones, which should help you.

  40. Hannia, mountain time should be 2 hours earlier than eastern time -- it would be 10 AM mountain time when it is noon eastern time. But please verify that yourself!

  41. Yes, mountain time is 2 hours earlier than eastern time...UNLESS your region does not do daylight savings. In which case, the difference would be three hours. I think.

    But the onus falls on each individual person. I absolutely refuse to take responsibility for figuring out your time zones. =P

    And yes, always in the body of an email. I won't open attachments.

    Screen Name = whatever name you'd like to use when you leave comments on the blog. "Anonymous" doesn't cut it.

    Did I get everything?

    (Why hasn't anyone sent me chocolate and cashews yet??)

  42. I told a girlfriend that if I don't make it in this contest, I will throw myself out a window.

    She said, "Just don't use your house." (It's a one-floor ranch...)

    Authoress, here's your chocolate. Now I have to go out and buy some candy...

  43. Thanks.

    I think I sorted it out. You're 4 hours behind me in England.

    Thank you so much for putting so much time into these contests. :D

  44. Hello, Hannia. We thought you meant GMT (General Mountain Tme), and you must have meant GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

    Good luck!

  45. Finally I get to enter! I've been waiting until my manny is finished to do so. Crossing my fingers I can get in.

    Here's some peppermint patties for you. They're my fav. 000000000

  46. Thanks CT. Good luck to you too :).

  47. Peppermint patties are my favorite too. And after lurking for some time, nervously twisting my fingers, I'm going to give this one a go.


    Good luck to all!

  48. Good luck Francesca.

    I bet this will fill up within 2 minutes of opening!

  49. By my calculations, there should be an hour left, right? I don't want to get the wrong time.

  50. Hannia, yes. Right now it is 11:37 eastern time.

  51. Good luck, everyone!

  52. I'm quite sure I the spots are well filled, but I just this minute found your site and submitted. Maybe things were slow because of the holiday. Thanks for the opportunity. I'll bookmark you for sure.