Monday, September 1, 2014

September Secret Agent Early Info

Please note: This is NOT the call for submissions! The contest will open next Monday, September 8.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES (please read carefully):

*There are TWO WAYS to enter: a) via email to authoress.submissions(at) OR via web form at
*THIS WILL BE A LOTTERY: The submission window will be open from NOON to 6:00 PM EDT, after which the bot will randomly select 50 entries.
* 2 alternates will also be accepted, for a total of 52 entries.
* 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 EITHER OF THE LAST 2 SECRET AGENT CONTESTS (May or 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 WON A CONTEST WITHIN THE PAST 12 MONTHS (i.e., offered any kind of prize from a Secret Agent), 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

GO HERE to submit via our web form.

If you choose to submit via email, your submission for this contest should be formatted EXACTLY 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 lottery number.
* Submissions go to authoress.submissions(at) They DO NOT GO to my facelesswords address. Or any other address.
*It doesn't matter what you put in the subject line. The only thing you MUST NOT do is to use "RE:" The bot will think you are attempting to respond to an email, and will reject you.

As always, there is no fee to enter the Secret Agent contest.

This month's contest will include the following genres:

MG:  All genres EXCEPT no portal fantasy or dystopian
YA:  All genres EXCEPT no portal fantasy or dystopian or anything heavy on "sex and drugs"
Adult:  All genres EXCEPT no portal fantasy, dystopian, thrillers, or "hard" SF (light is fine)

Good luck!


  1. I have a quick question about the 250-work excerpts posted. If we in future submit stand-alone versions of our first chapters to magazines, contests, or literary journals, can we still categorize them as "unpublished" if the excerpts are available online?
    Thanks for your help - Sandy

  2. Yes, Sandy. Entering an online contest does not count as "published".

  3. sorry, what's 'portal fantasy' ?

  4. "Portal fantasy" is any story in which the characters move from one world to another via some sort of "portal" -- like the wardrobe that leads to Narnia.

  5. Thanks for coordinating these contests!

  6. Awesome! Looking forward to see who the bot selects.

  7. This is exciting! My first Secret Agent contest!

    So glad I stumbled on your blog -- I've hardly done a thing but scour the archives all weekend! Thanks for all the great posts :)

  8. I don't want to break the rules, so how would you define "hard" vs "soft" science fiction?

  9. Thanks! Looks like a good opportunity.

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  11. I think I may have entered prematurely - I only just found the link with the accepted genres :( I know a publisher here in Austria I met at a convention categorized my novel as crossworld, but I now (unfortunately too late) did a research on the net which stated portal and crossworld fantasies as very similar in that the first involves time travel as well, while the second simply plays in a different world. My characters travel on musical threads - so I guess it's a portal without the portal sigh. (In which case my entry should be removed to expand the chances of others)

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  13. Question: In other contests, first 250 words (or first chapter, etc) don't include the prologue, if there is one. In this contest, is it first 250 words, prologue or not? Thank you for the clarification.

  14. Bill D -- "Hard" SF is a lot heavier on the science--the emphasis is on technical data, scientific details, etc. (Think about the way Geordi LaForge talks on ST:TNG.) "Soft" SF is a story in a SF setting, but the emphasis is on the characters/story arc/romance/plot.

    Beth Revis's ACROSS THE UNIVERSE trilogy would fall under "soft SF".

    Clauida -- If your entry gets picked, you can decide whether or not you want to pull out at that point. Just email me. :)

    Susan -- It's an age-old question. Technically, you need to start with the prologue - -because that is how your story begins. It is admittedly problematic in contests like this. But if an agent asks to see your first 5 pages, you need to start with the prologue.

  15. Thank you for so patiently answering all of our questions!!

  16. Somehow I managed to lose the page with my submissions number on it. What should I do now? I checked my history but it wasn't there either.

  17. No worries. If your number is selected, there is nothing you will have to do.

  18. No -- Excerpts on the blog are single-spaced with a double space between each paragraph (no indents).

  19. Good luck to you all. Unfortunately, I've put my two finished novels in previous Secret Agent contests. I'm looking forward to reading the entries. Sarah

  20. The webform countdown timer said there was nearly an hour to go, but when I submitted, the contest was closed.

    Tried email, and got this: I'm sorry, submissions closed at Monday, Sep 08, at 03:00pm MDT. Please try again next time.

    That seems to be an hour earlier than the 6:00 EDT (5:00 Central for me, or 4:00 Mountain) given on this blog page. Pity. Perhaps it maxed out on entries?

  21. If our entry gets into the contest are we allowed to mention it on social media and link to that entry when it's posted? Or should the entries remain anonymous?

  22. Oh bummer. My first contest. Drawn. And now I have to decide if I pull out or risk looking darn stupid. Can't blame everything on German spoken background. :( And if I pull out I can't enter the next... darn, darn, darn. Not to mention darn.