Contest Circuit

**Note** This information is likely outdated. However, some of these sites are still up, running and worthy of checking out.

Writing contests are fun and fabulous opportunities for winners everyone who participates. Participants learn firsthand what agents are looking for. Often times, we get valuable feedback and critique from other participants or judges. They keep us challenged and motivated. They establish a sense of fear and self-doubt community. This page will feature blogs and sites that typically feature interesting contests.

Ongoing Contests...(and some of my personal favorite sites to check out)

Agent Judged Contests:
Miss Snark’s First Victim has frequent contests from in-house crits to agent judged contests. Miss Snark hosts agent judged contests once a month and in-house critique sessions in between. Miss Snark's constructive criticism is direct and dead-on.

Cupid’s Literary Connection has hosted several creative multi-agent contests including Love Triangle, Blind Speed Dating, Secret Agent Invasion, and The Writer’s Voice Contest. Even if you don’t participate, they are fun to follow! 

Brenda Drake Writes…under the influence of coffee: Brenda Drake hosts creative contests regularly. In addition, she has several in-house critique sessions. While I’ve never entered the in-house critiques, people who have say their manuscripts are better for it.

Krista Van Dolzer at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) holds a monthly feature called "An Agent's Inbox" where writers submit their queries and opening pages. Entries are subject to open critique. An agent critiques all of the entries and offers exciting prizes.

Operation AwesomeSeven playful writers join together to host Mystery Agent contests on the first of each month. Most contests involve a one-line pitch. They also have fun posts throughout the week.

Query Contests:
The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment: Once a week, writer Matthew MacNish posts a query for open critique. He then follows the next day with his own critique. In addition to dozens of helpful critiques, he also has an entire list of successful queries. His site is one of my favorites.

Michelle Krys: Once a week she posts a weekly critique of query letters sent in by volunteers. 

Kristi Helvig: The last Wednesday of each month this YA writer gives away a private query critique. I've won this contest. She was an absolute pleasure to work with! 

Gabriela Lessa: Ms. Lessa also hosts query critiques on Wednesdays. Hers are public. I've also won this contest. See here where she ripped apart one version of my of my more humbling points along this journey. However, it lead me to some significant improvements in my MS and, of course, my query.

The ladies at Falling For Fiction hold Thursday critiques where they critique anything (excerpt, log lines, synopsis, or queries) of 250 words or less. 

The Infamous Query Shark: I submitted my query for review but was never selected...probably a good thing. She's brilliant and ruthless. If nothing else, check out her previous query critiques. Every writer can benefit from them.

Lauren Ruth, a literary agent at BookEnds, has a weekly query critique called QueryDice on her website Slush Pile Tales.

Flash Fiction Contests:
Wakefield Mahon: Books, Poems, Music and Videos hosts Motivation Mondays. Write 500 words to a prompt. Winners judge the following week's contest.

Jezri's Nightmares hosts a 55 Word Challenge on Wednesdays. Winners get $5.00 to Amazon and...pride.

Jen DeSantis hosts Friday Picture Show Flash Fiction contests. Entries are 100 words exactly. Winners judge the following week's contest. She also encourages the judges to spread the word about each week's winners.

Nicole Wolverton hosts a 5 Minute Fiction contests every Tuesday at 8:30pm EST.

Jessa Russo hosts Flash Fiction Fridays. Entries are between 50-350 words. Winners get bragging rights.

Literary Rambles: Every Monday, Natalie Aguirre interviews authors and hosts a giveaway of the author's book. Sometimes she even has ARC's to giveaway. If nothing else, Natalie Aguirre, an avid reader, always delivers a fabulous interview. These giveaways are ongoing.

Book Dreaming: Shannon O'Donnell also hosts several giveaways on her blog. Another avid reader, she shares book reviews, author interviews and other inspiring posts. This is one of my favorite blogs I've  recently joined.

The Book Smugglers: They review books and often give away the books they review. Their reviews are really in depth. I love the theme of this blog!


  1. Dear Kimberley,
    We have a number of things in common - both teachers and mothers who write for YA/MG in a AU sort of way and we both set up a blog to enter TWV. Quite a few differences: you have (2? very young) boys, I have 1 boy and two girls all in further ed (at Uni or graduated), I'm guessing you teach in Primary (you have that fresh look), I teach high school math and you are young and gorgeous.
    (Blog pix can lie - mine removes at least a decade and several muffin rolls).

    Anyway, connection established - you have created an incredibly useful resource here, thanks for that, I just entered the Kristi Helvig Wednesday thing - I'm hoping I made it with a couple of hours to spare - I'm in Time-Zone Hell at the moment - there are a couple of Aussie agents doing Monday/Friday slush pile stuff.
    Thanks for this - if I had the time/inclination/ technical know-how I'd follow you (or whatever it is you young things do), but as I don't, I'll just check in periodically.

  2. Hi Jacky! So nice to meet you! You are so sweet! I love meeting other writers - especially other mother/teacher/writers. I have one 2yr old son and am currently 7 months pregnant with baby boy number 2. ;) I teach middle school - 7th grade English and have been teaching for 12ish years now. It cracks me up you thought primary.

    I visited your site and read your entry. I liked your premise. I LOVED this line in your query: "..set in a modern-day, alternate England where teenagers enjoy archery and jousting instead of football and Facebook." It really gave me a feel for your book. The revisions you made to your query were really strong. The second query I read in your comments section drew me right in! Good luck in the Kristi Helvig contest - she's made a few comments about rewarding those who enter every week but don't get picked. Keep at it! ;)

    Thank you for stopping by my site! Best of luck as you continue querying and wrap up the end of your school year!

    Kimberly Gabriel