Summer 2021 First Chapters Contest


The contest is now closed! Thank you to everyone that submitted! Winners are announced and contest participants are notified 12-14 weeks after the contest closes. Check back at the end of October 2021 for the results!

First Place Winner:

Hannah Lamarre for Slow Notes Toward a Symphony of Longing

Second Place Winner:

Loretta Chefchaouni for Afterdeath

Third Place Winner:

Sunil Bhatia for No One’s Prince

Bring on your first chapters! We’re back with another first chapters contest for the summer 2021 season! Voyage wants to see the first chapters of your Young Adult novels! It’s no secret that one of the most difficult challenges in writing a book is getting that first chapter right—and we’re asking you to rise to the occasion. Can you write a first chapter that captivates your audience enough to make them want to keep reading? If the answer is yes, then we want to read your first chapter. Submissions are open from May 24, 2021, to July 18, 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!


  • Voyage submissions are open to all 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  • Previously unpublished work only, please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:
The author of the YA doc dramedy Symptoms of a Heartbreak, SONA CHARAIPOTRA is not a doctor—much to her pediatrician parents’ chagrin. They were really hoping she’d grow up to take over their practice one day.
Instead, she became a writer, working first as a celebrity reporter at People and (the dearly departed) TeenPeople magazines, and more recently contributing to publications from the New York Times to TeenVogue. She was also the editor of the beloved Barnes & Noble Teen blog (RIP). These days, she uses her Masters in screenwriting from NYU and her MFA in creative writing from the New School to poke plot holes in her favorite teen TV shows — for work of course. She’s the co-founder of CAKE Literary, a boutique book packaging company with a decidedly diverse bent, and the co-author of the YA dance dramas Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces, as well as the upcoming psychological thriller Rumor Game. Her follow-up to Symptoms will be the YA contemporary romp How Maya Got Fierce, which draws on her magazine world experience and is pitched as the Bold Type meets Younger.  She also writes screenplays with her sister, talent booker Meena Charaipotra. She’s a former We Need Diverse Books board member. Find her sharing pictures of her kids and her chai on Instagram @sonesone2, talking writing and books on Twitter @sona_c, or pinning gorgeous lenghas and her favorite Indian food on Pinterest.

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