Monday, August 9, 2010

August Secret Agent Contest Early Info

Is it me, or is the summer zooming on by? Our August Secret Agent contest is next week!

Please note: This is NOT the call for submissions! The contest will open NEXT Monday, August 16.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES (please read carefully):

* There will be TWO SEPARATE SUBMISSION WINDOWS. Each window will be open for 2 hours and will receive a maximum of 25 entries. This is to accommodate my other-side-of-the-globe readers.
* SUBMISSION WINDOW #1: Monday, August 16, NOON to 2:00 PM EDT or 25 entries, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST.
*SUBMISSION WINDOW #2: Monday, August 16, 7:00 to 9:00 PM EDT or 25 entries, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST.
*2 alternates will be chosen from the second submission window.
*PLEASE NOTE: You are responsible for figuring out your own time zone. "Time Zone differences" are NOT a reason for not getting your entry in.
* Submissions received before the contest opens will be rejected.
* 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 BEEN IN A SECRET AGENT CONTEST DURING THE PAST SIX MONTHS (February-July) will not be accepted.
* You may submit A DIFFERENT MANUSCRIPT if you've participated in any previous Secret Agent contests.
* Only ONE ENTRY per person per contest. If you send more than one, your subsequent entry(ies) will be rejected.
* If you are a PAST WINNER, please DO NOT ENTER THIS CONTEST. (Unless it's a different manuscript.)
* Submissions are for THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript. Please do not stop in the middle of a

Your submission for this contest should be formatted as follows:

SCREEN NAME: Your Screen Name Here
TITLE: Your Title Here
GENRE: Your Genre Here

(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 authoress.submissions(at) (And, um, you replace the word (at) with an @ sign. Yeah, sometimes people don't realize that.) They DO NOT GO to my facelesswords address. Or any other address.
*PLAIN TEXT is your best bet! And if you receive a rejection notice that claims you didn't include TITLE, etc., please TYPE THE SCREEN NAME, TITLE, AND GENRE BY HAND and resubmit. (In other words, don't copy and paste that part.)

This month's contest will include the following genres:
  • Commercial Fiction (including Women's)
  • Literary Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • True Crime
  • Mystery
  • Thrillers/Suspense
  • Humor/Satire
(Please note that this month's contest is for the adult market.)

Questions below!


  1. Does urban fantasy count for "fantasy"?

  2. Hello - I have a general question. First off, these contests are truly incredible. Thanks for organizing them, Authoress, and for your awesomeness in general. However, I'm intrigued by the fact that most of these contests consist of the first two pages of the manuscript rather than the query and first pages (I know that one time the query letter was included; I actually entered with mine). I'm just wondering why first pages seems to be the norm. Wouldn't agents want to see the query for the book also - so they can get a gist of the whole book? Obviously it all comes down to the writing, especially when it concerns the actual manuscript. But I'm curious why the query's not included, since it's pretty much always included when "submitting". Is that the "secret agent's" choice or yours? Anyways - good luck to everyone in the August contest!!

  3. Quick question- what if your novel has strong crossover potential from YA to adult?

  4. Hi Chris!

    My approach has always been about the writing. Since there are other fine choices for query critique out there, like Janet Reid's QUERY SHARK and Jodi Meadows's QUERY PROJECT, I decided in the beginning to take the let's-see-if-the-writing-can-hook-an-agent.

    And so the contests were born.

    Jess--Well, your novel is either one or the other. If the protag is under 18, it's YA, despite "crossover potential." So you have to decide what market/genre you're writing for before you start to query.

    If it's "YA with crossover potential," it's still YA.

  5. Thanks--mine is MG anyway, I was just wondering for those folks writing for an older crowd. I've heard the words "crossover novel" being thrown around and didn't know exactly what the term meant.

  6. Finally. I'm all over this one. Marked on my calendar and a manuscript ready for submission. Here's hoping I make it into one of the windows. Thanks for doing this, Authoress. You're awesome.

  7. Authoress, thank you so much for doing an all-adult SA contest!

    Question about cussing - will you omit the swear words for us according to what you deem a cuss, or should we attempt to &^%$#@ them for you? Or maybe ****ing? :)

  8. Thanks for asking, Lucy! I always use **'s for the cuss words, with the first letter intact (like s***). I try to catch them all, but if you can do that for me, it would be awesome.

    FWIW, I'm okay with hell and damn. Anything else is suspect. :)


    **does arm pump**

  10. Is it 250 max? Or if your last sentence begins at 240 and ends at 255, must you omit it? Thanks!

  11. Phew. My YA manuscript is getting there, but it's not ready yet. Nice to know I wouldn't have been able to enter this month's contest, anyway:)

    Good luck to all your adult market writers!

  12. Anon -- I always set the word count at 255 to accommodate ending at a period. So it sounds like yours will fit perfectly!

  13. Just being paranoid... what should we put in the subject line? Anything? Does it matter?

  14. Subject line doesn't matter. All email going to this address is funneled directly to the contest bot. :)

  15. Oh. Just make sure there's no "RE:" in your subject line. Because the bot will think you're trying to respond to an email and will reject you.

  16. A couple of questions:

    Can a novel be somewhere between commercial and literary? I'm not sure which mine would go in...

    And what do you mean exactly by "screen name"? Would you prefer us not to use our actual name - some kind of pseudonym, or our blogger sign in?


  17. Anon at 6:06 -- Agents will want you to decide which your novel is and call it that. So I'd pick one and go with it. ;)

    Your screen name is whatever name you use when you leave comments. "Anonymous" won't work because there's no way to distinguish you from others. Choose the 3rd option (Name/URL) and then type in whatever name you'd like to use.

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  19. Yay!! Finally my genre!! Woo-Hoo!

  20. Just wondering if there's any point entering the first 250 words from a contemporary Christian novel? I know some agents do rep both mainstream & Christian but I also know that the chances are the Secret Agent you have lined up doesn't. Thanks in advance. Don't want to take up a spot if it's more use to someone else!

  21. Furious agreement with everyone who has thanked you for these opportunities!

    I suspect this is a daft question, but 'fantasy' means just fantasy and not sci-fi? (I only ask because sometimes it gets used as a catch-all term for both, and we poor sci-fi writers live in hope!)

  22. Alas, SciFiWriter, you're right. Fantasy=fantasy.

  23. Does Women's commercial fiction include romance? I never know and feel like a dork for not knowing the answer. Here's to hoping I can enter.

  24. Yay! So happy to see adult market and my genre. I've been reading and commenting since March, and now I'm finished with my WIP and ready to enter. Hope I make it in! Thanks for these contests!

  25. enewmeyer--I would say yes, but that's just me.

  26. These contests are so amazing - thank you for having them! Just a quick question - if we've submitted to the peer critiques, can we use the same story in this contest? Thanks!

  27. Bethany--Yes, but make sure you've done extensive enough editing/revisions that folks don't feel like they're critting the same thing all over again. Not a good situation for either of you!

  28. Authoress, what should we do about formatting, such as italics or strikethrough? (I know that last sounds weird - humor me :)) Just make a note at the end of what needs the formatting in case it doesn't come though? Or is this contest sans formatting? Thx!

  29. Sorry if this is a silly question...are short story manuscripts applicable?

  30. Very exciting! Thanks!!!

  31. This is awesome - a contest in the genre that my finished novel fits into - yay!

    Thanks for holding this.

  32. FYI, you get automatically rejected if your entry is over 255, which makes sense, except that that includes the Title and Subject information. I somehow missed that part. Good luck everyone!

  33. Chazley, if the Title and Subject info are typed correctly, THEY ARE NOT INCLUDED in the word count!

  34. I am so upset. My entry has been rejected twice, and I have done exactly what I'm supposed to. The title, the screen name, the genre, have been listed AT THE BEGINNING of my submission both times. The first time I copied and pasted it from word, the second time I re-typed it all out in the body of the email. Still rejected. I don't know what to do! *sob*

  35. coffeelvnmom...Is your email set to PLAIN TEXT? That's important!

    Try again! I haven't gotten the "contest full" message yet!

  36. Somehow I had italicized a few words! I changed them, and it was accepted. *breathes sigh of relief* But oh my gosh, I was so worried you'd get over your maximum amount of entries while I was typing it out manually that second time, I may have tons of typos now! LOL! Oh well! At least it went through! Whew!