Get Your Manuscript Ready for the Stiletto Contest

~ By Mary E. Thompson

The Stiletto Contest opens March 8! That’s in only three weeks. Is your manuscript ready? If you’re entering a published manuscript, well, you’re in luck. It’s already out there, so you don’t have much to do. Double check your files, read through all the rules, and mark your calendar to enter the contest by April 12.

That’s not too bad. But if you’re unpublished, you might have some work to do.

Keep Writing

Unpublished entries are limited to the first 7000 words of your manuscript, plus a 500 word synopsis, but that doesn’t mean that’s all you need to write. If you’re a finalist and your entry is requested by an agent or editor, you want to be ready to submit it. You want it finished so it can land in that agent or editor’s inbox ASAP.

New this year, in order to enter, you also need to judge. And that means you have to be a general, PAN, or PRO member (more info on applying for PRO coming in two weeks). If you’re unpublished, you need to apply to PRO so you’re eligible. And in order to be PRO, you need to have a completed manuscript, so finish those pages!

Edit Your Pages

Few things will tank an entry faster than a poorly edited manuscript. That doesn’t mean you have to know every rule of writing or that your entry can’t have a single error, but you definitelywant to put your best foot forward. Go over your manuscript with a fine-toothed comb, then do it

Even better, ask a friend for help! There are tons of other authors out there who might be looking for someone to trade pages with.

Put out a call on social media, ask someone you respect,or make a new friend by posting in a chapter’s critique forum. Look for someone with complimentary skills to yours to get the best results. For example, if you’re really good at grammar and spelling, but tend to leave plot holes in your story, find someone who can spot those holes but struggles with spelling. You’ll both benefit!

Check Out the Score Sheets

Once you’ve finished your manuscript and know it’s top notch, check out the score sheets for the contest. We made major changes to the published score sheet this year in an attempt to provide published authors with feedback that brings real value to them. The unpublished scoresheet is similar to last year with a few minor changes.

We all want the inside track. To know what someone is thinking. We spend our lives trying to imagine what someone would say or do in a situation. Then we put it on paper. We’re never wrong because those people are from our heads, but the judges aren’t. Judges are real people out there in the world, evaluating your work. If you want a peek inside their heads, check out the score sheets. You can find them both on the judge’s sign up page, which is linked at the bottom of the contest page.

If you’re really brave, use the score sheet to judge your own book and see where you think it will stack up. Now’s the perfect time to do it!

Are you ready for the Stiletto Contes to open on March 8?

Mary E. Thompson is an author of more than 40 contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. Her curvy heroines and sexy heroes steal the hearts of her readers and make them wish her characters were real. Mary is also the co-chair (with Liza Keogh) of the 2019 Stiletto Contest. Read more about Mary and her books at, where it’s a curvy road to happily ever after. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *