I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Tiffany Hoffman, a writerly friend of mine, who is running a new writer’s contest called #FicFest. The aim is to bring manuscripts and literary agents together with writing submissions from five categories: Children’s Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult.
Manuscripts will go through a few rounds of voting and be filtered down to an equal number of finalists in each category (so there isn’t a glut of YA for example). From the finalists, a pool of (I think the last count was nineteen) literary agents will be requesting partials and/or fulls.
The contest is looking for complete manuscripts (not manuscripts in need of editing / polish). Think of it like submitting your work to an agent directly, only with a wider net of a contest instead of the single fishing line of a query.
From the details, it looks like forty-five manuscripts will be considered finalists (nine of each category). Agents will be requesting partials/fulls for any of the finalist manuscripts that pique their interest.
This seems to be a great opportunity to get your work in front of agents looking for writing in your genre. Entries aren’t open yet, but keep your eye on this site for more details:
- Tell us a little about how FicFest got started. What inspired you to put this together?
For the New Year, I posted a blog with my 2016 goals. One of those goals was to start my own writing contest. I’ve been entering contests such as PitchWars and such for the last fews years, but I really wanted to design the type of contest I knew I’d enter myself.
- Up and coming authors are no doubt going to be quite grateful for this opportunity. Who or what convinced you to deal with the burden of managing something like this?
I remember my first contest, which was Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars in 2014. Through the process of submission, a fellow writer and I launch a webshow called ‘Whiskey, Wine, and Writing’. We interviewed the PitchWars mentors and the creator of the contest, and one of the underlying reasons they all participated each year was because of the joy in helping another writer realize their dream of signing with an agent and moving to publication.
In late 2015, I opened my own freelance editing business called Deep Water Editorial Services, and as I worked with clients, I realized how much I really loved helping other writers better their work and move toward their dreams. #FicFest is a fun way to keep doing that. To give other writers feedback and help get their manuscripts in front of the agents who can help make their publishing dreams come true.
- If FicFest had a “mission statement,” what would it be?
I think our mission is to provide a fair and equal contest to all writers were one category does not over power another, giving every finalists an equal chance to get request from agents, and giving agents a real diverse spread to request from.
- How did you get the interest of agents to participate in something like this?
When we started looking for agents, I thought it was going to be hard getting them to participate. We wrote a letter to request agent participation which not only invited the agent to join but explained to them what #FicFest was, when the agent round was, and why this contest would be a good one for them to participate in. Then we waited. Within a week the confirmations started coming in.
The agents were just as eager to join as we were to host this contest. As of right now, we have 19 literary agents confirmed to participate in our agent round, and I’m thinking that number may very well go up before July.
- Who is FicFest for? (Who should be looking to submit entries?)
This is the beautiful thing about #FicFest. The only category we are NOT accepting is non-fiction. Every other category and genre is welcome. We accept Picture Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult and Adult. EVERY genre is welcome as well. From contemporary to erotica. Our goal is to host a contest that gives a fair chance to each of the five categories, and every genre.
- Can you shed a little light on how the vetting process works? I.e. how does a story go from being submitted to advancing to the next round and eventually to finalist status?
The submission process is fairly easy. While, I can’t lay out what material must be submitting at this time, (The official submission guidelines will go live on my blog on March 20th), I can say that to submit, each person will have to send in a submission email with all the required material during the submission window, which is 12:00 AM EST on April 24th until 11:59 PM EST on April 25th.
Once the submission window closes; the #FicFest mentor teams will spend the next week reading through submissions and choosing their finalists and alternates. There are three teams for each category. Each team will be choosing three finalists to advance to the agent round, and one alternate. This means that there will be a total of 15 alternates and 45 manuscripts that move to the agent round. On May 4, 2016, we will announce the finalists and alternates via my blog and they will then begin working with their mentor teams to get their manuscripts ready for the agent round in July!
- Is there anything that authors should not send in for this contest?
Unfinished manuscripts. Our mentor teams will be working with a total of 4 manuscripts (3 finalists and one alternate) and they only have 8 weeks for revisions before the agent round. If the manuscript isn’t as polished and query ready as the author can get it, there is just no way it will be ready in the 8 weeks before the agent round. So, before submitting, writers should make sure that they are submitting a polished manuscript.
Do not submit a first draft, and do not submit a manuscript that you’re not finished writing. We also will not take any manuscript that has already been a finalist in another 2016 contest. If you were a finalist for Sun vs Snow this year, for example, do not submit the same manuscript to #FicFest. And lastly, we won’t accept any manuscript that has previously been slef-published.
- I noticed one of the categories is “Children’s Books.” Are you looking for books with completed illustrations or the manuscript itself in this category?
Both. Many Picture Book writers already work with illustrators, or are illustrators. We will accept those that have illustrations and those that do not.
- When the time comes, how do authors send in manuscripts? Is there an email address or a website they should be looking for?
All submissions for the contest will be emailed to us at ficfest (at) gmail (dot) com.
March 20, 2016 @ 12:00 PM EST
Guidelines & Theme Reveal
March 27, 2016 @ 7:00 PM EST
Meet the Team Leads & Their Members!
April 3, 2016 @ 6:00 PM EST
Agent List Announced
April 17, 2016 @ 7:00 PM EST – 10:00 PM EST
Q & A with Team Leads & Host
April 24, 2016 @ 12:00 AM EST – April 25, 2016 @ 11:59 PM EST
April 26, 2016 – May 3, 2016
Teams will choose their finalists/alternate
May 4, 2016 @ 10:00 AM EST
May 5, 2016 – June 30, 2016
July 8, 2016 @ 12:00 AM EST – July 14, 2014 @ 11:59 PM EST