Hook ’em in 5! Contest Information

Hook ’em in 5! Contest is currently a work in progress and all

information will be uploaded to website when it is ready.



Literary agents and editors receive hundreds of submissions every month with the idea of getting through the pile and looking for anything they see that will put the manuscript in the reject stack.

Many agents also ask for only the first give pages, and make their decision on everything from their first impression on presentation (spelling, punctuation, too many adjectives and adverbs, and the standard industry requested format), to bigger issues to include but not limited to, the opening, dialogue, characterization, setting, and pacing.

If one can at least get through the first five with a partial, full or synopsis request, you have done very well, indeed.

Of course it’s important to research the agent’s wish list before sending anything.

Hook ’em in 5! is a contest about helping the writer be aware of how they’ve written their first 5 pages, and if it will stand out among the vast competition.

Whether a novice or seasoned writer, we wish every one success in their WIP with a goal to publication.




Entrants must be over 18 years of age at the time of entering their work.

Entries must not have been accepted with a publishing offer, or previously self-published. Must be unpublished narrative prose. (No poetry)

The submission must be the entrant’s original work and have not appeared, either fully or partially, in any format available to be seen by the general public.

Entrants must submit the work using their name, not a pen name. A pen name may be used when announcing their win, if requested.

The competition is not open to members of the board or their family members.



We are not judging specifically by category.

However, these Romance sub-genres are acceptable and will be used for Final Round Judges.



Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Futuristic/Time Travel

Romantic Suspense/Mystery

Young Adult/New Adult

Women’s Fiction 








First Round: Two Judges per entry.

Second Round: Ranking completed by two professionals in the publishing industry. Scores from both judges will be combined. Highest total scores determines each winner. A comment section will be available for judge feedback, though it is not required.

FTHRW reserves the right to change a final judge if the initial judge must bow out.

Please note:  Judges’ decisions are not the responsibility of the contest coordinators or FTHRW.  

All decisions are final.

Errors and omissions stand.


Second Round Judges: Still working on this





Editor: Heather Howland, Entangled
Editor: Jennie Conway, St. Martin’s Press

Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Futuristic/Time Travel

Editor: Heather McCorkle, Owl City Press
Editor: Amy Acosta, Entangled

Romantic Suspense/Mystery

Agent: Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency
Editor: Allison Lyons, Harlequin

Young Adult/New Adult

Editor: Kelly Petterson, Rees Literary Agency
Editor: Erin Molta, Entangled




The scores will each be awarded a cash prize of $__.

Choice of either cash or Amazon Gift Certificate.

All entrants will receive the scoresheets from each judge along with their judged submission. Judges are encouraged to give additional feedback at their discretion.


Important Dates – Submissions not open:


December 1st, 2023: Contest opens for submissions

December 31st: Deadline for submissions, 11:59 PM Pacific Time

January 2024: First round finalists announced

March 2024: Final  Winners announced




  • First 5 pages (1500 words maximum  per entry).
  • NOTE: If your entry exceeds 1500 words it will be disqualified.
  • Must be your original, unpublished, and un-contracted completed manuscript. Never been published.
  • Maximum of 2 entries per person.
  • Entry fee is non-refundable.


Entry Fees:


Entry fee:  $ for FTHRW members and $ for NON-members (US funds paid through PayPal on entry form).

Additional entries: $20 for a second entry (US funds paid through PayPal on entry form).

Please note that each entry can only be entered once, as they are not judged by category.

Limit to 2 entries per person.

Each entry needs to be submitted and paid for as a separate entry.

Entry fee is non-refundable.


Entry Format, How to Submit:


  • Entry must be in proper manuscript format (double-spaced; one (1) inch margins all sides; Times New Roman with size 12 font).
  • First 5 pages (1500 words maximum). BEST ADVISE: Don’t try and squeeze in as many words to reach the max. 1500 words. It’s far more important to end on a hook, even if it is 4 pages. It’s also best to stop at the end of a sentence rather than mid-sentence to hit exactly 1500 words.
  • NOTE: If your entry exceeds 1500 words, it will be disqualified. We don’t mind 1, 505 (max), or 1,494, but entries that obviously exceed 1500, will be disqualified. Better to go less than more.
  • Entry must be saved as: .pdf, .doc, docx or .rtf.
  • Do not include a synopsis.
  • Sorry, but no entry may be altered after submission.
  • Each page will have a one-line header with Title and page number on the right side.
  • DO NOT put your name on any of the manuscript pages. If your name appears on the entry (except entry form) you will not be entered in the contest.
  • Fill out the Cover Sheet.
  • Complete Entry Form.
  • Attached cover sheet with entry, and submit.
  • Automatic confirmation will be sent.

Please see our FAQ page to include guidelines on how to format using some versions of Microsoft Word.


Become a Judge!


You MUST read the judge guidelines first, and agree to the


guidelines. Then fill out the judge application.


Volunteer to Judge!



Click here: FAQ

Please note: All judges’ decisions are not the responsibility of the contest coordinators.

All decisions are final.

Errors or omissions stand.

Disclaimer: The rules on this web page as of January 2023 override any previous rules.