First Chapters Contest for Women Writers

Voyage YA is excited to host a first chapters contest to elevate women writers working on young adult projects. First chapters can sometimes be a challenging part of a novel to write. However, a good first chapter sets the tone for the novel and keeps the reader turning pages! Can you rise to the challenge? If so, send us the first chapter that’s going to make us want to know what happens next! We can’t wait to read your submissions! Submissions are open from July 26, 2021, to September 19, 2021.

Our guest judge will choose three stories from a shortlist.  

The 1st Place winner will receive $3,000 and an hour-long consultation with a literary agent.

2nd Place will receive $300 and publication,

3rd place will receive $200 and publication.

Finalists will also receive written feedback from a literary agent.

Bonus: Every entrant will receive access to a pre-recorded mini workshop!

Guidelines

  • Voyage submissions are open to all women writers working in English
  • International submissions are allowed
  • Submissions must be the first chapter of a Young Adult novel (full novel does not need to be completed), and from the point-of-view of a young adult, meaning through the lens of a teen protagonist
  • The chapter doesn’t have to be standalone
  • 5,000-word count maximum
  • We’re open to any genre or style—just send us the best you’ve got
  • Previously unpublished work only, please
  • Simultaneous submissions are fine—just notify and withdraw your entry if it’s picked up by someone else
  • $20 reading fee per entry
  • Multiple submissions are okay—please submit each as a separate submission
  • Every entry will be considered for our regular publications as well
  • Please: 1) double space; 2) use Times New Roman 12 pt font; 3) have 1-inch margins, and 4) put your last name and the page number in the top right-hand corner
  • Tell us in a brief cover letter your publication history (if applicable, no worries if not)
Note: To ensure the protection of our volunteer readers, and to keep Voyage a safe space, please let us know in your cover letter if your work can be triggering in any way. This will have no bearing on your submission or a decision—we just want to ensure the best possible environment for our readers. Thank you for your understanding. Voyage Values Voyage YA is committed to diversity and inclusivity. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, disability, family status, gender identity or expression, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. Voyage has a zero tolerance policy for any work that is discriminatory or harmful in any way, whether intentional or unintentional. Hate speech of any kind will not be tolerated and any work that violates our values will be immediately declined. Voyage maintains the right to further ban authors if problematic behavior persists and/or de-platform authors should there be problematic behavior via other platforms. As the landscape of publishing changes, Voyage acknowledges that there is still much work to be done. Systemic racism and structural inequality have been a problem for a long time, and Voyage will actively work to dismantle them. We have joined the global movement to fight for equality and will consciously work to amplify marginalized voices of authors who have been historically underrepresented in publishing. We urge authors and readers alike to visit some of the resources we have found helpful—and seek out others.
About our guest judge:
J. ELLE is a prolific Black author and advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her community. Her debut novel, Wings of Ebony, sold in a six-figure pre-empt and is part of a YA fantasy duology about a Black girl from a poor neighborhood who learns she’s magical. Wings of Ebony is a lead title in Simon & Schuster’s Spring 2021 lineup.
Six months later Elle also sold, at auction, A Taste of Magic, a MG contemporary fantasy duology about a Black girl who learns she’s a witch and fights to save her inner-city magic school with baking. Park Row Magic Academy: A Taste of Magic is also a lead title on Bloomsbury’s Spring 2022 list.
From growing up poor to being a first-generation college student, Elle’s tenacity and passion for empowering others dates back to her first career in education, teaching tweens and teens from traditionally underserved areas to fight for their dreams. More recently, as the founder of the “Your Story Is Your Power”, a creative writing workshop, she mentors high schoolers on the craft of writing and the importance of sharing stories from their perspective. Elle has worked as an Editorial Intern at P.S. Literary Agency and Gelfman / ICM Partners. She’s also served as a mentor for both Pitchwars and Author Mentor Match.
Elle is the founder and cohost of #MondayMixer, a Twitter chat to engage writers on the platform with networking opportunities, writing questions, and encouragement. In her spare time, you’ll find her cooking up some dish true to her Texas and Louisiana roots, loving on her three littles, and traveling the country with her nomadic spouse. Learn more at authorjelle.com 

Voyage accepts submissions year-round and published pieces can be found on our website, accessible to everyone for free.