The Strongest Start Book Competition 2018

The Strongest Start Book Competition 2018

Over $1,000 in Prizes, Feedback, and Prestige

December 9, 2018

After much deliberation, we're pleased to announce the finalists in the 2018 Strongest Start Competition. They are, in no particular order:

For the Love of Mellie by Marilyn Johnson

Half by Deckland Oz

Death Rights (Contest Edition) by Don Chambers

Maiden SS2018 by Seabrass

Swan for Contest by Ann Everett

The Family Secrets by Suin

Congratulations to all of the finalists! And, as we say every year, congratulations to everyone who entered. Hopefully, whether you made the finals or not, the process has helped you create a better start to your book.

We'll be announcing the winners next week, Saturday, December 15.



We know that writing a compelling start isn't easy. So, for the eighth year, we've put together a motivational competition to help you hone the first three chapters of your book to perfection (if you haven't already).

We're looking for opening chapters that will create a burning need to find out what happens, how the characters turn out, how the novel resolves itself. The kind of start that gets an agent to call back, a publisher to show interest, and a reader to plunk down their hard earned money. Above all, give us three opening chapters that will keep us reading.

As part of the competition, you'll have the opportunity to receive feedback on your submissions, meet and share ideas with other writers, and get motivated to produce the perfect, compelling opening. The winner of the Strongest Start Novel Competition will be the writer who is judged to have the strongest three opening chapters. In addition, two runner-ups will be selected using the same criteria.

Prize Winner receives:

  • A critique of the three chapters by star editor Anita Mumm.
  • $600 cash.
  • One year of free membership on TheNextBigWriter, valued at $69.95.

Two runner-ups will receive:

  • $150 in cash.
  • Free extra three months of Premium Membership on TheNextBigWriter valued at $21.95.

Everyone receives:

  • Feedback on each submitted chapter.
  • Motivation to craft the best opening.
  • Camaraderie.
  • Fun.


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Start: May 29, 2018

Deadline: September 28, 2018

Posting Date: Postings that are eligible for this contest must be published on site after June 01, 2017

Prize: Grand prize: $600 cash, Pro Review, Visibility

Groups where the Contest runs

Previous Grand Prize Winners

2015 Winner


Publication Date:

2013 Winner

Friending the Devil by Marlene Elliott

2012 Winner

The Girl with Green Hair by Lucy Rice is still being written and has an open request to be read by the Nelson Literary Agency.

2011 Winner

Quantrill's Raiders by crazeesharon is still being edited for publication.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cost to this competition?

You must be a Writing Member of the site to enter the competition. The cost is as low as $6.66 per month. New members receive a free 7 day trial of Writing Membership. As a Writing Member, you will:

  • Receive Feedback. Post your writing and receive feedback from other workshop members.

  • Discover and Learn from Others. Discover, read, and critique the in-progress writing of other members. Help them and learn from the process. Leaving feedback isn't hard and we'll help you.

  • Connect with Other Writers. Meet and connect with other writers to share information, tips, and make friends. Some have even found love amidst reading and reviewing.

  • Get Motivated. Enter contests and challenges like the Strongest Start Book Competition to keep you motivated to write and edit.

  • Keep Control. Posting on the site keeps your writing within our password environment. You can restrict it further or open it up to the entire Internet for more exposure if you choose.

  • And much more...

Do I have to review other writers to submit my first three chapters?

Yes, TheNextBigWriter is an online workshop. To submit your chapters you'll have to read and provide feedback on other work submitted to the site. Writers tell us they enjoy this process and learn as much from reviewing others as from the reviews they receive. Once again, in this contest everyone wins by meeting other writers and by receiving feedback on what they have written.

Do I need to write in a particular genre to win? Can any genre enter?

The competition is open to any genre that adheres to the site's Terms and Conditions. This includes romance, literary fiction, science fiction, horror, fantasy, action and adventure, young adult, memoir, and more. Our previous winners have included action and adventure, science fiction, romance, young adult, and historical fiction. Finalists have included books in even more genres. We are looking for books that transcend genre so a book that is well-written and absorbing is much more important than the category that it fits into. Just keep us reading.

How much will I have to review and how much time will it take?

As a rule of thumb, you'll have to review 4 similar-length chapters to post one of your own. You accumulate points by reviewing other writers and use these points to post your own chapters. Time-pressed members can purchase points but this is not encouraged. Participants tell us that both receiving and writing reviews is one of the most rewarding experiences of the contest. If you are looking to just dump your entry and run, this contest is not for you.

Reviewing generally takes 15-20 minutes for a typical chapter, depending on your reading speed. You can read and comment on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. So, curl up in bed and see what others are putting together and entering.

If I post more than 3 chapters will it impact the competition?

No, you may submit more than 3 chapters but we will only be judging the first three.

Can I submit a non-fiction book to the competition?

Yes. You may submit non-fiction as long as it is a compelling read. Memoirs have done well in the past.

I'm from a country that isn't eligible to enter the competition. Why are some countries excluded?

This has to do with international competition law. Each country in the world has different regulations regarding competitions and we do not have the resources to research all of them at the moment. For example, the Province of Quebec requires that all competition material be duplicated in French, something we don't have the money or expertise to do. We picked the largest English speaking countries and researched those to ensure we were in compliance. We apologize if your country is not on the list and will do our best to add you in the future. Until then, we hope you will use the rest of the features on

Can I re-enter a submission from last year?


Do I give up any rights to my work by entering this contest?

No, per our member agreement, you retain all rights to everything you post.

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