Novel Rocket’s Launch Pad Contest: Boosting You Out of the Slush Pile 2012 Edition

29 January 2012

 Launch Pad Contest

This is the third year for our contest for unpublished novelists. Our aim is twofold: to help budding writers gain experience and hone their craft; and to lift the Grand Prize winner’s novel out of the slush pile and onto the desk of the right publishing professional.
The Grand Prize will be a hand-blown glass rocket award (subject to change). But here’s the real prize: Novel Rocket will help the winner connect with one or more agents or editors depending on the winner’s genre, intended audience, and specific needs. (Our first year’s winner was signed with an agent within the week!)
Who can enter? Any writer not affiliated with Novel Rocket who has completed a novel but has never contracted with a traditional publisher. If you’re a journalist – if you’ve been published in magazines, whether articles or fiction – if you’ve published nonfiction books, plays, or poetry – you can enter. This contest is for anyone who has never published a novel with a traditional publisher.
Official Rules:
1. Download the entry form. You’ll be asked to choose one of six genre categories. Sometimes a story will fit in more than one. For instance, a historical crime story could be classified either as Historical or Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Thriller. It’s up to the writer to determine which category is the best fit. You may enter a story only once.
2.  A writer may enter more than one story. These can be all in the same genre, or they might be in different categories. But a writer may not submit the same story in more than one category.
3.  Prepare a one- to two-page synopsis for each entry, along with the first chapter (or the first 3,000 – 4,000 words). A prologue plus first chapter is acceptable. The first two chapters is an acceptable submission as long as the whole excerpt doesn’t exceed about 4,000 words. The judges are more concerned with getting a good sample of the writer’s work than they are with word count.
If you have a question concerning what portion of your story you should submit, email us at NovelRocketContest @ (without the spaces).
4.  This year we are charging a fee of $35 per entry. Payment is made with the PayPal button at the bottom of this page.
Every entrant will receive personal feedback, including a critique of the selection submitted.
Submit entry form, chapter, and synopsis by email to NovelRocketContest @ (without the spaces). For each entry submitted, make payment of $35 by PayPal at the bottom of this page. Once the complete entry and payment are received, the writer will receive verification that the submission is good to go.
5. Entries will be accepted in all genres beginning January 9, 2012. The deadline for submission is different for every category according to the following schedule. In each case, entries must be received by 11:59 PM EST on the 10th day of the month listed.
  • Historical Fiction (WWII era and before). This includes all historical fiction, including romance. Submission deadline: May 10, 2012.
  • Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Thriller. Deadline: June 10, 2012.
  • Contemporary Fiction/Women’s Fiction (general fiction for and by men or women, with a setting from 1950 to the present): July 10, 2012.
  • Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction: August 10, 2012.
  • Contemporary Romance: September 10, 2012.
  • Speculative (Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror): October 10, 2012.
6. Every month between June and November, the judges, all members of the Novel Rocket staff, will review the submissions in one genre and choose a winner for that category. The judging criteria will include a solid plot, technical skill, understanding of the craft of fiction writing, and all-around readiness for publication.
7. All submissions will be stripped of any identifying headers and bylines and will be anonymous when presented to the judges. Once processed by the contest administrator, a submission will be known only by its title and entry number until the winner is revealed on the blog.
8.  Except as noted in #10 below, the winner of each category will be announced on the second Monday of the month following the submission deadline, as shown below.
  • Historical Fiction: Winner announced June 11, 2012.
  • Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Thriller: Winner announced: July 9, 2012.
  • Contemporary Fiction/Women’s Fiction: August 13, 2012.
  • Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction: September 10, 2012.
  • Contemporary Romance: October 8, 2012.
  • Speculative: November 12, 2012.
Every entrant in each month’s category will be contacted on the date above. The critiqued submissions will be returned with comments and suggestions, and the winner will be notified.
The winning entry will be published in Novel Rocket on that date.
9.  The category winners will, upon notification, be the finalists for the Grand Prize. They will be asked to provide a complete manuscript and a proposal for the judges’ use in determining the final winner.
10. In the event the judges determine that none of the entries in a particular category are close to being ready for publication, Novel Rocket reserves the right to announce no winner in that category.
11. Once all finalists are selected, a separate panel of judges (Novel Rocket staff who have not judged any of the entries previously) will determine the Grand Prize winner. They will base their decision in large part on the first chapters and synopses previously submitted. However, they’ll also review the complete manuscripts and proposals to see that the writing is consistent throughout and the writer has a professional presentation.

12. The Grand Prize winner will be announced on Novel Rocket on December 10, 2012. The winner will be notified personally as well, and arrangements will be made for delivery of the award

Visit the website to enter:

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