Monday, September 14, 2015

The 2016 Zebulon Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Contest is open!

By: Dawn Smit

The Zebulon Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Contest, sponsored by the Pikes Peak Writers, is open for submissions.

Writers have from now until Sunday, November 1, to submit a query letter, a 500-word synopsis and the first 2,500 words of the manuscript along with their entry fee. But why enter our contest when there are so many to choose from? Here are five good reasons:

The Zebulon is open to all writers.

Are you published? Unpublished? Welcome, and welcome. Submit the latest fiction piece you’re sending out to agents, or your current work in process, or even the first part of that manuscript you need a bit of motivation to finish. Or all of the above. As long as the manuscript (or any series the manuscript is part of) is unpublished and hasn’t placed first in our contest before, we’d love to see it.

Nervous about marketing? The Zebulon helps you dip a toe in the water.

Whether you have your heart set on being traditionally published or you’re indie all the way (or you’re somewhere in between), you will need to learn the basics of marketing in the publishing industry. That query letter is just a formalized—and brief—marketing plan showing the editor or agent that you know your platform (if any), your genre, your market, and your story’s theme and/or intriguing plot points. What happens when your book shows up on Amazon and other book sites? You use your platform to announce your book, you or your publisher add tags to let people know your genre and target market, and your book’s blurb conveys the theme and/or intriguing plot points.

Want feedback?

Back in 2001 when I entered the Paul Gillette (the Zebulon’s previous incarnation), I paid extra to receive a critique. What a benefit that was! The contest still offers critiques—in fact, you can get two—and it is a great way to get overall feedback on your submission This is on top of the scoresheet comments, which you receive as part of the scoring. As the contest coordinator for the Paul Gillette for six years, I can happily say that the Zebulon’s scoresheets give even better feedback now.

Our VIP judges are industry professionals.

This year, as many as 18 entries will wend their way to the desks of the editors and agents who have volunteered as our final-round judges. These VIPs will rank the three entries in their categories and possibly even make comments—or ask for the entire manuscript. Have we had winners find representation this way? Why yes, we have.

Free conference!

First-place winners in each category can go for free to the 2016 Pikes Peak Writers Conference; this year’s theme is “Dare to Dream,” and we have a great lineup of speakers and workshops. That’s a prize worth nearly $400. Winners also (along with the other finalists) go to the front of the line for editor and agent appointments. This is a great opportunity to network and learn.

You can find the rules and FAQs at: 

Ready to enter? Register at:
Questions? Send to

About the Author: Dawn Smit is a freelance editor and proofreader and the creator of Rainbow Editing®, a technique that writers can use to teach their computers to help them self edit. She was the contest director for the Paul Gillette Writing Contest from 2005 to 2010 and has returned for an encore.

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