Operation First Novel FAQ
Deadlines, Announcements & Prize Information
Q: I have revised my entry from last year. May I resubmit it this year?
A: Absolutely. The 2008 Operation First Novel winner placed as a semifinalist in a previous year with an earlier version of her manuscript.
Q: The rules say to have double spacing, but the rule directly following that says to have no extra spaces after paragraphs…
A: Set your word processor on double spacing, but hit enter only once after each paragraph, unless there’s a break between scenes. That’s standard practice for any material submitted for publication.
Q: Before learning of your contest, I submitted information about my book to a service that screens material, then posts it for possible review by publishers. Does that disqualify me from entering?
A: Having your proposal available for publishers to consider through such a service does not disqualify you. But if your full proposal and/or manuscript is requested for scrutiny by a company’s publication board after you have entered, you should notify the Guild.
Q: For purposes of your contest, does listing a story for sale in Amazon’s Kindle bookstore count as publishing?
A: Not if that is the only format in which it’s available. The contest considers someone published only if he or she has had physical copies of a book produced by a royalty publishing house. Similarly, self-publishing, co-publishing, and print-on-demand (P.O.D.) do not count as publishing.
Q: Do I need to copyright my novel before submitting it to the contest?
A: No. Under U.S. law, as soon as you write something, all rights to it belong to you. (If you want to make sure others know that, you can include a line that says copyright 2012 by Writer Name. Nothing else is needed.) If you want to take further action, you can pay $35 or $45 to have your copyright registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. For answers to common questions about copyrights, as well as abundant details on how to register a work, visit the Copyright Office website: Copyright.gov
Q: Is young adult fiction allowed?
A: Technically, yes. But Worthy Publishing is looking for a 75,000- to 100,000-word novel that fits its general fiction line. So the novel would need to appeal to both an adult and young adult audience.
Rules & Regulations
Q: I know the manuscript must be between 75,000 and 100,000 words. Would you like to know the actual number of words in the document or an approximate count based on an average of 250 words per page?
A: Include the actual word count rather than an estimate.
Q: I’m interested in your contest, but my short novel (52,000 words) is complete as is. Could you reconsider the minimum word count?
A: No. The 75,000 to 100,000 word count is a publisher mandate. And they’re the experts at knowing how many words a reader expects.
Q: I’ve cut my novel as much as I can, and it’s still 107,000 words. Can you waive the maximum word count?
A: No. Worthy Publishing, which co-sponsors the contest, requires a length in the 75,000- to 100,000-word range so the book will fit its fiction line.
Q : My word count is close to 110k. Must I get the count below 100k? I’ve been racking my brain to figure how I could trim the word count without lessening the story’s impact.
A: To trim 10 percent from your manuscript, first make sure each chapter and scene is necessary. After making those cuts, be willing to delete redundant or unnecessary paragraphs, sentences, phrases, and words. The result will be a more forceful novel.
For example, this is the original, 58-word version of that question:
My word count is over 100k (closer to 110k). Must I get the word count down below the 100k mark? How strict is this rule? I’ve been racking my brain to figure out how I could trim the word count down, i.e. what material could be removed, but it lessens the impact of the story, in my opinion.
Editing reduced the question to 33 words.
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