Contest FAQ



The Suzannah – FAQ’s

Why should I enter the Suzannah?

You will have an excellent opportunity to try a new kind of contest, one that closely simulates an editor’s desk, and you will get anonymous feedback from writing professionals. All entrants will receive score sheets and feedback from the first round judges. In addition, you have the opportunity for your work to be reviewed by a minimum of six agents, editors, and industry professionals, all hoping to discover the next sensational romance author.

The Suzannah has such an awesome panel of final round judges, I can’t decide which manuscript to enter.

No problem. Enter as many manuscripts as you like, as long as they are not currently under contract and have never been published in any form. Each entry should be paid for and submitted separately.

What’s the grand prize?

Three hundred dollars, donated in memory of romance author Suzannah Nelson Davis, and a trophy.

I’m an unpublished author. Will my entry be judged against published author’s entries?

We make no distinction between published (any format) and unpublished authors. Our reasoning is rather detailed. This contest is designed to simulate an editor’s or agent’s desk. Only, with The Suzannah, the finalists get to be on EVERY ONE of at least six editors’, agents’, or other writing professionals’ desks. And our first round judges, your peers, and industry professionals, are kinder, gentler, and more informative first readers. With their comments and critiques, you’ll know what they like and don’t like about your entries. Our contest will give unpublished authors who are ‘on the verge’ a chance to compete with published authors anonymously. No more wondering if lack of name recognition is the reason behind that ‘almost there’ response.

I’m a published author. Why should I enter the Suzannah?

Do you have a story that’s different from your published books? Want to see how it will play with your peers? Want to catch the interest of an agent or editor who isn’t familiar with your work? Have you been stranded by your publisher and want to try another house? Are you caught in that small-press or used-to-be-recognized Catch-22 that keeps you out of contests? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the Suzannah is for you. And remember, all entries are anonymous to all judges, first round and final round–unless the final round judge asks to see more.

I know I can’t enter a book under contract, but what if I sell after the contest has closed and my entry is being judged?

We know this can be a hard call. You’ve got material sitting on an editor’s desk, but what to do? If you sell or self-publish on or before November 30 – the day before finalists are announced — you MUST contact the coordinator and your entry and money will be returned.

My book was published before, but now I have my rights back, can I enter that book?

Sorry, but no. We want every entry on the same playing field and a previously-published book could have the benefit of a professional editor. And, it’s not fair to the other writers, even if you haven’t been professionally edited.

I’m outside the US and Canada. Can I enter?

Yes! We’re all electronic!

Who are the first round judges?

First round judges are Published Authors, RWA® PRO members, industry professionals (i.e. librarians and booksellers) and others who love, respect, and understand all that is good about the romance genre.
NOTE! Contest staffers and judges may enter the contest FOR FEEDBACK ONLY at a reduced fee – they are not eligible to move forward to the final round.

What categories may I enter?

The Suzannah has no categories. As noted before, it is our wish to simulate, as closely as possible, an editor’s desk. So all categories, subgenres, and offshoots of the romance genre may enter. As this is a romance contest, the score sheet has been designed with romance novels in mind. (More on this below. P.S. Yes, Young Adult and Inspirational entries are welcome.) However, we do require you to provide information about what category your entry would be shelved in at a bookstore.

What’s the deal on categories? The rules say that all entries are judged together, regardless of category but you require that I put my manuscript in a category anyway. What gives?

We have given our judges the option of opting out of two traditional categories. Some judges enjoy reading some subgenres more than others and we want to make our volunteer judges as happy as possible. This benefits you because a judge who doesn’t read historicals won’t be judging your historical entry. And, of course, a happy judge is a better evaluator of your writing. To help us make our judges happy, please use the category listing on the Suzannah Contest Rules page.

I have a manuscript that was a finalist in a previous Suzannah, but has not sold. May I enter it again?

Yes, so long as your entry did not actually win The Suzannah, you are welcome to re-enter it.

Can I enter my Young Adult Romance? My Inspirational Romance? Sometimes, scoresheets are not kind to the less sexy stories.

Yes! Our scoresheet judges good romance writing across genres. (Yes, it was difficult to put together, but the results are simply awesome!) We feel that attraction is an important part of a romance, but the degree of on-the-page sensuality depends on the genre. Therefore, our scoresheets judge attraction/ chemistry/ interaction, but do not judge explicit sexual tension or sexual attraction.

Can I enter a story that is more women’s fiction or mainstream than romance?

You may enter any story, regardless of genre. However, our score sheet is geared toward romance fiction and your manuscript may be at a disadvantage in the points rankings if your first 25 pages of story and synopsis show no signs of romantic happily-ever-after. But you will still get good feedback from the first round judges.

Wow, this contest sounds so awesome. Can I enter my novella?

Sure, go right ahead. But understand your novella will be pitted against full-length novels. The judges won’t know whether or not they’re reading a 20,000 word manuscript or a 120,000, and it may put you at a disadvantage. But you’re still welcome to enter.

Does the manuscript have to be finished for me to enter?

Your manuscript does NOT have to be finished. Go ahead. Try out a new idea on us. Or dig that old manuscript out from under the bed, give it a dusting, and send it in. Many cross-genre books have been abandoned because they couldn’t be pigeon-holed. Now’s the time to see how they play, but be prepared if your manuscript is requested by one (or all!) of our final round judges.

Can I enter more than one manuscript? Even if they are in different genres?

Absolutely! Now is a great chance to try out some of those stories you’ve been wondering about. Enter as many manuscripts as you like, as long as they are not currently under contract or have ever been published in any form. Each entry should be paid for and submitted separately.

How much does it cost to enter?

Each entry is $30 for NOLA Stars members. $35 for non-members. Entries made BEFORE midnight CST August 31st receive a $5.00 early bird discount. PayPal is the preferred method of payment.  If you are unable to pay via PayPal, arrangements can be made by contacting our Contest Coordinator .

May I make one payment to cover several entries?

No, please, no. Accounting for writers is generally tough enough. Please don’t make us keep up with such complications! Please include a separate check or PayPal receipt with each entry.

My chapter is 7,000 words long and my synopsis is 600 words long. I can enter the whole thing, right?

Nope. Your entry would be 7,600 words (7,000 words + 600 words) and would be disqualified. The whole entry cannot exceed 7,200 words total.

I have a fifteen page synopsis. Is this too long?

That’s completely up to you, as long as the total entry is 7,200 words or less!

Is the synopsis judged?

Yes, the synopsis is judged.

What about formatting.

We require no less than 1″ margins all around, Times New Roman at 12pt font or Courier 12pt. Maximum 25 lines per page–no more! If you have your manuscript set to double-space then you will be just fine. We can accept several different types of files: .doc, .docx, .rtf. If you need to send a different kind, please let the contest coordinator know when you send it. She’ll do everything she can to accommodate you.

We want to be both MAC and PC friendly and make this easy for everyone. If you have any problems/questions, please contact our contest coordinator who will be glad to help you.

Your submission must come from the opening of your story (from page 1 to no longer than 7,200 words-this number includes your synopsis). No submitting pages from the middle or end of your story.

For complete information on formatting requirements, please review our  Contest Rules

Sometimes, contests don’t announce the finalist when they say they will. Will the Suzannah be on time?

We will try our darnedest! All our contest staff and judges are volunteers. Sometimes, entries don’t get returned from first-round judging before the due date. Our computers crash and our emails to the coordinator get lost. Life happens. We will do everything we can to stick to our schedule.

Return to Contest Main Page

See the Contest Rules

For questions, please contact our Contest Coordinator

NOTE: NOLA STARs’ policy of anti-discrimination is as follows:
No member, speaker or participant (or entrant in the Suzannah Contest) shall be discriminated against based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, or religion.