The Masters Review hosts and annual Novel Excerpt Contest each fall! We’re looking for excerpts that show off a sense of style, with a clear grasp on craft: narrative, character, and plot. Choose wisely! Your excerpt can come from any point in your completed or in-progress novels, but a synopsis should not be required for understanding the excerpt. Excerpts must be from previously unpublished novels; if your novel has been self-published, it is ineligible for this contest. Excerpts from novels that are under contract for 2022 or 2023 may not be submitted, but work from a novel scheduled for a 2024 publication date or beyond may. As always, we have no limitations on genre, though we are primarily interested in literary fiction. This year's judge is Charmaine Craig! She will select the finalists from a shortlist provided by The Masters Review’s editorial team. The winning excerpt will be awarded $3000 and online publication and an hour-long consultation with a literary agent. Second and third place excerpts will be awarded online publication and $300 and $200 respectively, in addition to feedback from a literary agent.
- Winner receives $3000, publication and consultation with an agent
- Second and third place prizes ($300 / $200, publication and agent feedback)
- Excerpts under 6000 words
- Excerpts from unpublished novels only
- Simultaneous and multiple submissions allowed
- Emerging writers only; writers with book-length work published or under contract with a major press are ineligible. (We are interested in offering a larger platform to new writers. Authors with short story collections are free to submit unpublished work, as are writers with books published by indie presses.)
- International English submissions allowed. No translations.
- Excerpts from novels under contract for 2022 or 2023 are ineligible, but novels under contract from 2024 and beyond are eligible.
- Double-spaced, 12 pt easy-to-read font (i.e., Times New Roman, Garamond, etc.) please!
- $20 entry fee
- Deadline: December 1, 2022
- Please, no identifying information on your excerpt
- All excerpts are considered for publication
- A significant portion of the editorial letter fees go to our feedback editor, according to the rates established by the EFA
Q: What’s the deal with my rights if I want to publish my book eventually?
While we’re not able to speak for every publisher, since we’re not publishing your work in its entirety, it should not be a problem going forward. Rights also revert back to the author after 90 days. If an opportunity came up for you to publish your work before the 90 days, we are happy to revert rights back to you sooner.
Q: Does it have to have a beginning, middle and end?
We want an excerpt that stands well on its own, that makes us want to read the full book. We want a sense of conclusion from the excerpt, but we also know that we’re only reading part of a novel and don’t expect all threads to be resolved. You can read our 2021 winners through the links at the bottom of our contest page for an example of the kind of novel-excerpt we’re interested in.
Q: When should I expect to hear back?
We will try to respond to every submission by the end of March, and hope to have the finalists announced at the end of April or beginning of May. If this timeline changes significantly, we will notify all authors. We appreciate your patience!
Q: Can I submit two chapters if its under 6000 words?
You can submit as many chapters as you’d like, as long as the word count is under 6000 words.
Q: How firm are you on word count?
We allow for some wiggle room; don’t force your revisions into 6000 words. We’d rather read a couple hundred extra words than a cramped conclusion!
Q: Can I submit a synopsis/prologue with my excerpt?
We recommend that you don’t; your excerpt will be judged on its merit alone, and the synopsis will not be published alongside your excerpt.
Q: Can I submit with a co-writer?
Sure; but you’ll need to split the prize money.
Q: What if a small portion of the book has already been published?
As long as the excerpt you’re submitting has not been published in any form, and the novel itself has not been published, we’re happy to consider your work!
Q: I self-published my novel on my blog but later took it down; can I still submit an excerpt?
Unfortunately because it’s been published in some form or fashion, the excerpt would no longer be eligible for this contest.
About the Judge
Charmaine Craig is the author of the novels My Nemesis, forthcoming from Grove Press in February 2023; Miss Burma, longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction; and The Good Men, a national bestseller. Her writing has been published in a dozen languages and appeared in venues including The New York Times Magazine, Narrative Magazine, AFAR Magazine, and Dissent. Formerly an actor in film and television, she studied literature at Harvard College, received her MFA from the University of California at Irvine, and serves as a faculty member in the Department of Creative Writing at UC Riverside. She lives in Los Angeles.
PREVIOUS WINNER UPDATES:
Joe Bond earned representation from Sarah Fuentes of Fletcher & Company, and Caitlin O’Neil earned representation from Victoria Marini and our 2016 Fall Fiction winner, Ruth Joffre, selected by Kelly Link sold her story collection to Grove Atlantic with our winning piece as the title story. Awesome.
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"If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking." -- Haruki Murakami
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