Q) I want to participate in the First Chapters Romance Writing Competition. Where can I find all of the contest details?
A) All information relating to the Competition can be found at romancenovel.gather.com.Â In addition to this Frequently Asked Questions article, weâ€™ve posted an announcement article, submission and eligibility guidelines, voting/rating guidelines, and the Official Rules.
Q) Am I eligible to enter this competition if Iâ€™ve submitted a novel to publishers and other contests, but nothing has happened yet?
A) Your novel cannot be submitted to the First Chapters Romance Writing Competition if it is simultaneously submitted to other contests or publishers.
Q) How will I know if or why my submission was disqualified?
A) Due to the volume of submissions, Gather will not contact individual entrants to confirm eligibility until the latter stages of the competition. Each entrant is responsible for ensuring that his/her submission meets all eligibility requirements. Please be sure to thoroughly review the Official Rules for this competition.
Q) My manuscript contains adult language and themes. Is it still eligible?
A) Entries may include adult language and themes. However, manuscripts considered â€œeroticaâ€ are not permitted and will be disqualified.
Q) Are there any word count requirements for the overall manuscript beyond the 2,000- 5,000-word requirement for each of the first two chapters?
A) Yes â€“ the word count for the entire manuscript cannot exceed 100,000 words.
Q) If an excerpt of the novel was published in a literary magazine, journal, etc., does this disqualify the entire novel?
A) No. As long as the majority of the novel was not previously published, the entry is still eligible.
Q) Are authors who have published non-commercial fiction eligible?
A) No. If you have published any novel or book in any genre, excluding self-published or vanity press, you are not eligible to enter the contest.
Posting Your Chapter
Q) When should I post my First Chapter?
A) You may post your First Chapter to romancenovel.gather.com between August 1 and August 22, 2007 at 11:59 PM ET. You must publish your First Chapter prior to emailing your complete manuscript to email@example.com, because youâ€™ll need to include the URL of the posted chapter in your email. Â
Q) Can I edit my chapter once the voting period has started?
A) No. Any entry that has been edited on or after August 27 will be disqualified.
Q) Can I publish my chapter to other groups besides the First Chapters Romance group?
A) No. Any entry that has been posted to a group other than the First Chapters Romance group will be disqualified.
Q) If my chapter/s is/are online and I do not win, will other publishing companies consider my chapter/s published?
A) While stipulations may vary from publisher to publisher, since your entire manuscript will not be publicly available at any given time, it generally would not be considered â€œpublished.â€
Emailing Your Manuscript
Q) How do I know youâ€™ve received my manuscript?
A) After emailing your completed manuscript to Gather, youâ€™ll receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org confirming receipt of your manuscript.Â Please note that this email is not confirmation that your submission has met all eligibility requirements. You are responsible for ensuring your eligibility; please review the Official Rules for a complete list of requirements.
Q) Is there a limit to the number of manuscripts one author can submit?
A) Yes. Each author can submit one (1) entry. Any additional entries received will be disregarded.
Q) My novel starts with a prologue. Does the prologue count as part of chapter one, or is it considered a separate chapter?
A) If your novel includes a prologue, that will be considered part of chapter one. Please include the prologue and chapter one as one document. Likewise, if your chapter has its own title, please include it in the body of the chapter, not in the article header. The article header should only contain the following: â€œManuscript Title â€“ Chapter Oneâ€
Q) Do I need to join the First Chapters Romance group to submit an entry?
A) Yes â€“ you do need to join the Gather.com First Chapters Romance Writing Competition group at http://romancenovel.gather.com if youâ€™re submitting an entry.
Q) What happens to my manuscript once the competition is over?
A) All non-winning manuscripts will be destroyed when the contest is over. Manuscripts will not be returned to the entrant.
Q) Please define "romance genre."
A) Simon & Schuster defines â€œromanceâ€ as follows:
A story, focusing on the relationship between a man and a woman, that captures the joy of falling in love. The setting can be anywhere from the distant past to the present day, or in a paranormal realm.
Q) Please define â€œerotica.â€
A) Simon & Schuster defines â€œeroticaâ€ as follows:
Any work of fiction that is sexually explicit in nature. The sexual language is expressed in candid, adult terms, and the graphic love scenes are high in volume per the overall word count.
Please note: Erotica is not permitted in this competition. Submissions deemed â€œeroticaâ€ will be disqualified.
Reading, Rating & Judging
Q) Where should I ask friends to go to read the entries?
A) Your friends and connections can find your entry in your namespace (username.gather.com), along with all your other articles and images. All entries will also be posted to romancenovel.gather.com on August 27, 2007. Voting begins on August 27, and only votes cast from August 27 to September 18 will be counted toward Round 1 results.
Q) How do I vote on an entry?
A) If after reading a chapter youâ€™re so impressed that youâ€™d recommend the book for publishing, rate that chapter a 10. Very simply, the authors with the most â€œ10â€ ratings will move on to the next round of the competition; ratings between 1 and 9 will not be counted. In the event of a tie, the author with the most comments from unique members will move on to the next round.Â
Q) Is there a competition for members who read and rate First Chapters entries?
A) Yes. Members who post the most insightful comments on each of the 25 winning submissions in the first round, plus each of the five winning submissions in the second round will win a $50 Borders Gift Card!
Q) Are entries to be judged on content alone, or is grammar/spelling a consideration in the final vote?
A) We encourage entrants to thoroughly check grammar and spelling before submitting their entries. The community will be considering the overall quality of the submission. Entries are expected to be of a publishable caliber.
Q) Do I need to join the First Chapters Romance group to vote on the submissions?
A) No. Any Gather member can, and is encouraged to, vote on a First Chapters Romance submission. If youâ€™d like to vote but are not a member, click on home.gather.com in the top left corner of any page on the site. Then click on the â€œJoin today â€“ itâ€™s FREEâ€ button and follow the instructions.
Q) Who will judge the competition?
A) Community members, Gather's Editorial Team, and a panel of judges all play a role in selecting the winner. Details on the selection process are in point 5 of the Official Rules.
Q) How will Gather ensure the integrity of the rating/voting system?
A) To ensure the integrity of contests on Gather, we have developed fraud detection systems to monitor rating/voting patterns as well as member account validity. We run the processes periodically throughout the contest and again at the end of the contest, across all entries. If we determine that certain ratings or actions are intended to compromise the outcome of the contest, we will take appropriate actions, which can include disqualifying the ratings, entrants, and submissions. Entrants are eligible to vote in the competition, but are expected to do so fairly and in the spirit of the competition. In addition, Gather will work with an independent party to certify the results of the community voting.
Q) Will Gather announce the editorial vs. community picks?
A) No. Gather does not want any entry to be influenced in any way except by its own merit, and therefore we will not announce whether the finalists are community or editorial picks.
Q) At the end of the competition, will entrants who did not win receive their standing in relation to all other competitors?
A) No. We will only be announcing the winners of each round. A complete list of standings will not be posted.
Q) Can I delete a comment someone makes on my Chapter?
A) No. Deleting a comment will lead to disqualification.
Â Q) Will prizes be awarded regardless of the number of entries?
A) Simon & Schuster reserves the right to not award the publishing prize if fewer than 200 qualifying entries are received during the contest period.
Q) Borders is listed as the retail sponsor of the competition. Does this mean the winning romance novel will only be distributed through Borders?
A) No. While Borders will be distributing and promoting the Grand Prize Winnerâ€™s published novel, it will be available wherever books are sold.
Q) Can you provide us with any additional information on the Simon & Schuster contract the winning author will receive?
A) The contract is a standard publishing contract paying royalties against a $5,000 advance.