I’m one of the judges in this contest detailed below, and I’m really looking forward to it. And on an it’s-a-small-world-note, agent Rachel Vater would have become my agent if I’d stayed at Donald Maass instead of following my own agent, Andrea Somberg, to a different agency (Vigliano) and then a different agency after that (Harvey Klinger) where she seems set to stay for a while. (Meanwhile Rachel has also moved on and is no longer with Maass. Agents tend to do this. Editors too.) I’m happy with Andrea and loyal to her, but judging from Rachel’s blog, which I highly recommend to anyone trying to learn about how agents think and how best to feed and care for them, she does pretty good work herself.
Hello everyone, we have exciting news – Fangs Fur and Fey is hosting its first contest!
For those of you who’ve seen Miss Snark’s Crap-O-Meter or Lit Agent X’s GOT HOOK? extravaganza, you’ll have an idea of the format. Writers are invited to submit up to a 300 word ‘hook’ to us describing your novel. What’s a hook? Consider it a movie trailer for your book. It’s a brief description meant to entice and interest someone into wanting to read your novel. A hook does NOT list every character, subplot or setting detail – that’s a synopsis, and we don’t want those. You also don’t need to list your book’s title or word count. Just list the genre, your name and email address (these will not count toward your total word tally) and then go right to your hook. That 300 max word count will be strictly enforced, too – anything over it won’t be eligible.
We will be able to accept up to 180 hooks on a first-come, first serve basis. Start sending in hooks on Friday, April 13th (if you REALLY want to be first, you can do it as early as 12:01 am Friday the 13th, EASTERN standard time) and then we will close submissions on Sunday, April 15th at midnight – or until we get 180 hooks, whichever comes first. DO NOT POST HOOKS HERE. Email hooks to email@example.com
All 180 hooks will be critiqued by our volunteer judges, members of Fangs, Fur and Fey (see below for list of judges). Now, though we love Miss Snark, these critiques will not be in her famous “WTF?” style, but will be overviews of what did or didn’t work for the hook and why. The critiqued hooks will be posted online at FFF on Monday, April 23rd. The author’s name and email address will NOT be made public. Instead, each hook will listed by number, and each author will be informed of their number when we receive his/her submission. Furthermore, the name of the particular judge who critiqued your hook will also not be listed, privately or publicly. Only the judges’ comments, the hook, and the hook number will be posted. Due to size, most hooks and comments will be under a cut – we don’t want to receive hate mail by clogging up everyone’s Friend pages with an extremely long Hook contest post.
Watchers will also be invited to offer comments on what did/didn’t work for them on hooks, BUT NO FLAMING, PEOPLE! This is supposed to be helpful, informative and fun, not rude, cruel or insulting. Any abusive comments will be deleted as fast as we see them.
You may be wondering, how can we call this a contest if there isn’t a prize? Well, aside from the feedback given by the judges and your own peers, don’t worry, we do have a prize! Out of those 180 hooks, judges will choose the best 12 to advance to the next round. Those writers will have thru Thursday, April 26th, to turn in the first 5 pages of their novel (double-spaced), also emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org . These pages will be critiqued by our judges and posted online Sunday, May 6th in the same manner as the hooks. Out of those 12, judges will choose the best one overall. The final winner will then be announced on Thursday, May 9th and he/she will receive…
Rachel Vater raleva31 at Lowenstein-Yost has agreed to critique and offer feedback (NOT posted online at FFF, but directly to the writer) of the author’s first three chapters/50 double-spaced pages of their manuscript, plus their synopsis, if desired. Since most authors very much want a professional agent’s take on their novel, we think this is a prize that will really benefit the winning participant.
And here are some things you may be wondering:
1) What if my novel isn’t finished? Can I still enter the contest?
A: Yes, but you DO need to have at least the first three chapters or 50 pages (double-spaced) completed in case you’re the lucky winner.
2) But what if I don’t want my hook/first five pages posted online for other people to see?
A: Then don’t enter. Sorry, but as anyone who’s seen the Crap-O-Meter or Got Hook contest knows, it’s extremely helpful for writers to see common mistakes/pitfalls or what works in hooks and pages. This is a contest with the goal of making everyone who enters it better at writing their hooks/initial pages…and everyone who watches as well.
3) What if Rachel’s rejected my query letter before? Does that make me ineligible?
A: Nope. This is a clean slate all the way around.
4) Okay, but what if she’s already read and rejected my partial before, can I still enter?
A: If you’ve revised since then, yes, you can. If it’s the EXACT same first 3 chapters/50 pages Rachel’s seen before and already given you comments on…then no. That isn’t fair to everyone else else who enters, because then she’ll just be repeating herself.
5) Suppose I win and Rachel really likes my first 3 chapter/50 pages, will she request more?
A: That’s up to her. If she want to see a full manuscript after doing her part in this contest, she’s welcome to do so, but Fangs, Fur and Fey would have nothing to do with that. It would be solely at her discretion and she is under no obligation to request more.
6) What is Rachel does request my full manuscript, but for whatever reason, I don’t want to send it to her?
A: Same principle applies. You’re under no obligation to send her more either. If she offers and you choose to accept or decline that offer, Fangs Fur and Fey would have nothing to do with it. We’re guaranteeing one person a critique of their first three caps/50 pages from Rachel – anything above and beyond that would be between your and her.
7) What if you don’t get 180 entries into this contest? Will it be canceled?
A: No, we’ll move ahead with however many entries we do get. Since this is our first contest, we really don’t know what the response will be. But we know SOMEONE will win no matter how many entries we get.
8) What genres are you accepting for this contest? Any exclusions?
A: These are the genres we’re accepting hooks from:
Urban Fantasy – adult and YA
Young Adult Fiction
Sci-Fi and Fantasy
These are the genres Excluded:
9) Can I request a particular judge for my hook/pages?
A: No. Hooks and pages will be assigned a number and randomly handed out to judges. In the interest of fairness and with the knowledge that some of us may have online friends entering this contest, the writer’s identity will stripped from the hook when it’s assigned. If a judge happens to recognizes a friend’s hook/pages from their content, again in the interest of fairness, they will forward it to another judge.
10) Why don’t we get to know who judged our hooks/pages?
A: Because that’s not what this contest is about. We’re looking to help writers improve, not finger-point about which judge didn’t like what hook and then get personally upset with he/she over it.
11) Why do you people have the right to judge us, anyway? You’re not agents or editors.
A: No, we’re not. But we all have one thing in common: we’re all published/contracted authors, and therefore we’ve all gotten out of the slush pile at one point. Are we the most qualified people in the world to judge? No, but this isn’t a perfect world and we’re hosting this contest to offer help and advice, not pretend we know absolutely everything about hooks and initial pages.
That said, if you don’t want our feedback, we won’t be offended if you don’t enter. We just wanted to do something to give back to the not-yet-published writers. We have a vested interest in seeing more writers succeed (we like reading good books), so if we can help, that would please us.
12) Are you going to have another Hook contest again?
A: We don’t know. Let’s get through this one first 🙂
Mark Del Franco
Janni Lee Simner
If you have any questions, ask away!