Hook ’em in 5! FAQ

1. Why should I enter the Hook ’em in 5! Contest?

Why not? You have nothing to lose. Plus, final round editors and agents often request full or partial manuscripts for further consideration.

2. When do I submit my entry?

The contest is open for entries in early 2024. Stay tuned for exact date.

3. Can I enter a contracted to be published manuscript or published manuscript?

No. All entries must be unpublished and cannot have appeared, either fully or partially, in any format available to be seen by the general public. Additionally, manuscripts can’t be contracted or scheduled.

4. I’m self-published. Can I still enter?

Yes. As long as your entry/s has never been published. Ever.

5. Can I include a Prologue with my entry?

It’s up to you, but your prologue will be included in your total word count, which cannot exceed 1,500 words. The prologue will be judged as part of the entry.

6. Do I need to include a Synopsis with my entry?


7. What is the judging process?

All judging criteria are: Quality of writing (including Character Development and originality),  a sense of story or bigger narrative emerging, and how much the judges are hooked by the writer.

Topics include: opening/hook, socialization, settings, dialogue, conflict, and presentation.

8. Must I be a member of FTHRW in order to enter the Hook ’em in 5! Contest?

No. The contest is open to all writers over 18 years of age.

9. Can I enter more than one manuscript?

Yes. However, only a total of 2 separate entries are accepted from each entrant. Prices are the same for the additional entry.

10. Can I enter the same manuscript in more than one category?

No. A manuscript can only be entered once. You may submit, one additional entry, but must be from a different manuscript.

11. Why are you not judging by categories?

We have posted all acceptable genres under romance that will be used only for the final round judges.

12. What is the cost to enter the Hook ’em in 5! Contest?

Entry fee should be paid in US funds:
•  $20. NON-FTHRW 
$ 15. FTHRW members
• Second entry: Same as above. All entries are $20 NON and $15 for members

13. Must I pay for my entry fee through PayPal?

Yes. Hook ’em in 5! Contest only accepts entry fees through PayPal. After you fill out your entry form and press the “Submit” button, your browser will take you to PayPal.com. If it does not, contact: Hook ’em in 5!

14. Can I pay my entry fee by check?

No. All contestants must use PayPal to pay their entry fees. You may pay by electronic check through PayPal once you have a PayPal account, but it takes several days for your check to clear.

Please Note: If you use an electronic check through PayPal, entry status is not final until the check clears, which may take several days.

15. Do I have to paste the Cover Sheet at the beginning of my entry?

No. When sending your entry, the cover sheet should be sent as a separate attachment, but in the same email.

The Cover Sheet is designed to provide Final Round judges with additional information about your entry.  The category and heat level may be a part of their consideration for making a request.

Download the file here:

Hook ’em in 5! Cover Sheet

16. What are the formatting rules I must follow?

Please re-read the entry rules. Your entry will be disqualified and entry fee forfeited if you don’t follow the formatting rules.

17. What file types can I use?

Acceptable file types are: .PDF, .Docx, .Doc, .RTF.

18. How do I remove the identifying information from my entry?

If you save the document in Word 97-2003 format, you have the option at File | Options | Trust Center | Trust Center Settings | Privacy Options to “Remove personal information from file properties on save.” Save, giving the file a different name.

If you save in Word 2010/2013 or Office 365 format, then you have to use File | Info | Prepare for Sharing: Check for Issues | Inspect Document: Document Properties and Personal Information | Remove All. Save, giving the file a different name.

If you use Word for Mac:

In Word for Mac 2016:
1. Click on the word Tools from the Menu Bar 2. Choose Protect Document at the bottom of the pane.
3. Under privacy, check the box to remove personal information from this doc on save.

In Word For Mac 2011:
• Open a Microsoft Word 2011 (Mac) document.
• Click on the word “Word” within the Menu bar.
• Choose the Preferences option.
• The Word Preferences dialog will open.
• Click on the Security icon, located in the Privacy Options section.
• The Security window will open.
• Enable the Remove personal information from this file on save field.
• Click on the OK button.
• Save the document.

If you do not understand these directions, please notify Contest Chair. The file will be saved into another file by contest personnel to remove your identifying information before distributing to judges or returning the judged entry to the author.

19. How do I make sure the title of my entry and page number appear at the top of each page?

For information about how to set up headers including page numbers, search Microsoft Support – be sure to include your version of Word (97, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 365, or Online) or Word for Mac in the search:

20. How do I submit my entry via email? What do I send?

  • Fill out the Cover Sheet and save it.
  • Fill out the Entry Form.
  • Attach to the Entry Form, the Cover Sheet and the First 5 Pages of your Manuscript.
  • Submit the Entry Form, it will take you to PayPal
  •  Pay via PayPal and jot down the Transaction ID.

21. How do I thank my judges for their feedback?

All of our judges are volunteers and would love to hear from you! Please send any comments to your Coordinator at the email address she/he has provided to you. She/he will forward them appropriately.

To thank first round judges, in Subject line of the email, type THANK YOU JUDGE # Be sure to include your complete entry title on all correspondence. It is up to you whether you sign your name to the thank you note.

Second round thank you notes should follow a similar protocol, but use the judge’s name in the subject line instead of the judge number. It is recommended that you use your name on these emails, but again, it is not necessary.

22. What can I do if I disagree with the comments my judge(s) made?

The critiques/comments from the judges are their own opinions and are intended to help authors improve their skills by pinpointing possible problem areas and/or highlighting strengths. Please keep in mind that there is no way of preventing judges’ opinions from being at least partially subjective. Only you as the author can decide whether or not their suggestions will improve your work. Please note: all judges decisions are not the responsibility of the contest coordinators or FTHRW. All decisions are final. All errors and omissions stands.

23. How do I become a judge?

Fill out the Judge Application Form (please make sure you press “submit”.)

24. Still have a question?

Send to: Hook ’em in 5! or ContestChair@fthrw.com