Monday Advice from Editors and Agents: Focus on the First Page

Capture a starCapture the Reader in 250 Words

Regina Brooks founded Serendipity Literary Agency in 2000. She and her team represent brand new authors as well as award-winning veterans. In an interview with the blog YA INTERROBANG, Brooks talked about the contest she runs every year, the YA Novel Discovery Contest and why it focuses only on a book’s beginning.

“The contest was designed because so many people forget the importance of the first page in getting an agent and an editor interested,” explained Brooks. “If you can capture someone within the first 250 words, you really can get an agent excited about your work. Agents and editors get thousands of submissions, and the first page, or 250 words, gets the most focus.”

YA Novel Discovery Contest

This year’s contest opened on November 1 and closed on November 31, coinciding with National Novel Writing Month (

The Grand Prize Winner has the opportunity to submit an entire manuscript to YA Brooks AND receive a free, 10-week writing course, courtesy of Gotham Writers’ Workshop, plus a collection of gourmet teas from!

Brooks and her team read all of the entries and determine the top 20 submissions. These submissions are then read by such publishing stars as Deidre Jones Little Brown, Nicole Raymond Candlewick, Annie Nybo Simon and Schuster, and many more.

The judges whittle the top 20 down to five. The Top Five Entrants (including the Grand Prize winner) receive a one-on-one pitch session with Brooks, as well as commentary on their submissions from editors with such houses as Scholastic, Random House/Penguin, Bloomsbury, and Sourcebooks. In addition, they  receive a year’s subscription to The Writer magazine!  The First 50 Entrants receive a copy of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.

This is a terrific contest and NaNoWriMo is a great way to force yourself to get that first draft done! Mark your calendar for November, 2014 and get started writing today!

Among Brooks’ star-studded clientele is Marilyn Nelson: Newbery Honor winner, three-time National Book Award finalist, and winner of the 2006 Michael Printz Honor Award. Other notable clients are ALA winner Derrick Barnes, and Coretta Scott King award-winning Sundee Frazier. Brooks takes pride in the fact that her list is a blend of experienced, recognizable names, and enthusiastic newcomers.

About Donna Maloy, Author

Captivating romantic suspense. History, mystery, and sometimes... a little touch of fantasy.
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