Monday, August 4, 2014

Become an Agent Contest!

YES! The third time I'm hosting this. (This is a long post, cramming in all the details and stuff!)

Right before Pitch Wars (because of it, actually) here comes a critiquing contest! Hopefully it'll help you prepare for Pitch Wars. If you don't know what Pitch Wars is, read this. It's an awesome contest coming up in two weeks.

What is this?

This is a contest all about queries. Will your query garner requests? Will you stand out amongst the plethora of queries in the agent's inbox?

When I was querying (and even now), I always wanted to know, "Will my query work?" "What if was the agent and I had to request pages?"

So, from there came the contest.

I got the idea for this contest from the Authoress's Public Slushpile Contest (she has AMAZING contests almost every month. So go and check her blog out :D).

This is NOT a contest that involves agents, editors, or publishers. I actually hope they don't look over the entries because this contest is a place for writers to test out queries and see if they work. I want this to be a place for you to submit a query you're unsure about or experimenting around with. That's hard to do if there is the possibility of an agent seeing your work. So be free and FEEL free!

The Details

  • This Tuesday the 5th, I will open up a window for submissions. It'll start at 6 p.m. EST and will end when I get 20 submissions.
If the submission window's time frame is not good for you, go to to schedule the email to be sent!
  • The first 20 entries in the submission window will make it into the contest.
  • Submit the meat of your query and the first 250 words to SC_Author (at) yahoo (dot) com. More details about submission format below.
  • I will be sending confirmation emails to the people that made it into the contest.
  • The 20 queries I receive will go up on this blog on Thursday at 8 am. That's when the contest will start!!

Here is the fun part. The BEST PART. READ THIS PART!

  • Each entrant will get a Post Number for his/her query.
  • The basis of the contest is this: Each entrant is required to vote YES or NO (as to, "Would you request pages?") on the seven queries above his/her post number, and give an explanation as to why (can be as short or long, as generic or specific, as you want). So if you are #6, you'll critique Numbers 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. But, say, if you are number 3, you will critique numbers 2, 1, (then start from the end) 20, 19, and 18. All the posts will be numbered.
  • BUT...... THERE IS:


  • Out of the seven queries you vote on, you can only vote YES on TWO!

Yes! We are going to make this as agent-like as possible.

You have to pick the best two queries out of the seven you are assigned. If you are extra-awesome and want to critique more than seven, then you get one more "Yes" for every four you critique. (The details: if, for some reason, you only critique one more, that one CAN be a "Yes." But if you critique more after that, you must give out 3 "No's" before you can give out a "Yes." Ask questions in the comments below for the nitpicks: it does get confusing, but it makes sense in my hand!) But, you MUST critique the seven posts above yours before going on to more! 

For the Onlookers and Observers
  • The onlookers and observers can only vote YES on one out of the ten entries (because they aren't required to do the time-consuming chore of explaining their NO's like the contestants are). So yes, non-contestants can also participate!!!! But they cannot simply give 'Yes's' to their friends; that's cheating. Don't do that, please. PLEASE.
  • If the non-contestants are so awesome as to actually explain their No's and Yes's, their voting guidelines will be the same as the contestant's :) 

The winner of the contest will be the ones with the most 'Yes's'! I'll set up an interview with them, like I did for Sherry Ellis and Tiffanie Lynn! I will be checking to make sure that the winner voted on the seven above their post's number. That is key; I want to spread out votes as equally as possible so that one person doesn't get 5 Yes's out of 5 votes and another person gets 6 Yes's out of 10 votes. Because, technically, the second person wins in that scenario.

  • Follow this blog (and my Twitter if you wish :D)
  • Write your query under 400 words - and that's a lot. Ideally, it will be under 300 words (I'm talking only about the meat here - no personalization and no bio unless the bio is CRUCIAL to the story).
  • Thank the Authoress for allowing me to make another version of her amazing contest!

You do NOT need a finished manuscript to enter, as I know some people write their queries before they start their manuscripts. (Although, if you submit to this contest, I hope you plan on writing it soon.) This is just to see if your query and 250 will work for agents.

I hope that this will be tons of fun, and, even more so, I hope this will be helpful. Even without an agent, you will see whether your query is working or not and why it is or isn't. We can become agents for a little while :D And, hopefully, this will help to everyone in query frustration land :)

Formatting instructions are here: 

Again, send it to SC_Author(at)yahoo(dot)com as:

In the subject line put "Become an Agent Submission: [Title of Your Manuscript]" at least. That's all I need :D

In the actual body, put it like how I have below (so I can easily copy-and-paste from email to Blogger :D)

Bolded where bolded, with all the words included (so keep in 'Title', 'Genre', 'Word Count', etc. but, of course, put in your own personal details.)

Title: My Awesome Title!
Genre: My Awesome Genre!
Word Count: My not-so-awesome word count that I'd rather not tell anyone!

Then just slap in the meat of your query under the title, genre, and word count. Throw in your bio too, because agents DO look at that when they receive queries and it DOES make an impact, I want this contest to be as realistic to what agents see as possible. But ONLY INCLUDE YOUR BIO IF IT'S CRUCIAL TO THE STORY!! See the comments below for more info.

First 250: Throw in your 250 here, NO tabs; do line breaks instead of tabs, like they are on this blog post right now. And you can a lee-way of 10 words; so if your sentence ends on word number 257 or 242, keep it there. You don't need to edit to perfectly hit 250 words.

I will delete any names or stuff. This way, if you have some friend-bloggers who get in the contest as well, hopefully, they won't be influenced as much. And all critiques will not be personal in any way.

I'm counting on you guys not to tell people which is your entry :) Doing so will only harm you, and I have faith in all of you that you want this contest to be constructive. But feel free to spread the word about this contest! More on the not-telling-people thing on Monday's post.

Some brief clearer-upper points of conduct:
  1. HAVE FUN! PLEASE PLEASE HAVE FUN! Oh. And hope this helps you, too :D
One more thing:

This contest is brutal. You might not think so right now but it is BRUTAL. You'll absolutely hate what some people have to say, you'll want to trash their critiques. Too bad. I'm warning you right now. I always have writers that are almost in tears because of this contest and I hope this time I won't! It's really a helpful, good contest; SO many writers have told me how helpful it was. But it's also a hard one.

AND PLEASE, tell me if I'm missing anything. Ask questions below.

We'll be Tweeting under the Twitter hashtag #BecomeAnAgent! Twitter really is amazing for authors to connect and celebrate together :D It'll be fun. I'm SC_Author on Twitter.

I'll post more guidelines about ethically voting and voting fairly when all the posts go up :) The critiques and the explanations for the votes are really the biggest part of this contest, so I'll need another post to discuss them in detail.

Does anything need clarification? I truly hope you guys enjoy this! Are you excited?


  1. Hi SC! This contest sounds so helpful (and like you said, brutal!). One question: in requirements you say no bio, then in the formatting section you say to include a bio. Which would you like? And is this the bio that would be in a query letter, or my stand-alone bio? Thanks; hope I make the first 20!

    1. Shoot, so sorry!! Let me clarify here and in the post: only include the bio if it is CRUCIAL to your query. Meaning, if it is another selling point. No prior publications, just what pertains to THIS story.

  2. I second Nicole's questions. Also, should we take the word count and genre out of our query since we're listing them at the top in bold?

  3. Will there be more than one submissions window, or is this a one-time shot?

    1. Only one. Sorry, I forgot to change that from last time's! Since it's a really quick thing right now to prep for Pitch Wars, I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible. One window only. If it's not in your time zone, use to schedule an email.

  4. Thanks for the tip! That's 6 Eastern time, correct?

  5. I'm totally excited for this! Thanks for hosting!