Popstar Writing Contest

Presented by Tall Poppy Writers
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Winner Announcement

The winner of the 2020 Popstar Writing Contest is:

***Practically Perfect in Every Way by Brigette Russell.***


Our finalists, in no particular order, were:

👑  The Mayor of Boredom by Maggie North
👑  Practically Perfect in Every Way by Brigette Russell
👑  The Devils I Know by Michelle Cruz
👑  Perfectly Wrong by Kelley McGee

Thank you to everyone who entered. The contest was a huge success with NINE manuscript requests from our superstar judges!

What is the Popstar Writing Contest?


The Tall Poppy Writers are hosting a cross-genre writing contest! Our intention is to share our substantial joint experience as bestselling, award-winning authors to help other women, transgender, and non-binary/genderqueer authors advance in their publishing journey.


How to Enter:

Submit no more than the first 4250 sequential words of your unpublished and uncontracted book-length work of fiction or non-fiction, PLUS a synopsis of no more than 250 words (both will be judged). We accept electronic entries ONLY via our submission form. (Book-length is a minimum of 55,000 words.)

Every entry must be submitted by April 13, 2020 and be accompanied by:

The entry must follow these formatting guidelines:

  • 12 point Times New Roman font
  • 1” margins
  • Double spacing
  • NO AUTHOR NAME can appear anywhere on the entry

Entry Fee:

Given that we’re all having to cope with the challenges posed by COVID-19 related isolation, we have decided to extend the early bird rate of $40 all the way to our final submission deadline of April 13th.
Remember this gets you feedback from 3 bestselling, award-winning authors (see score sheet for details).
Note: The contest is capped at 200 entries and will close for entries when the first 200 entries are received.


Every entry will be read and judged by three Tall Poppy Writers who will provide feedback to every writer who enters.

The judges will select four finalists.

See scoresheet for details on the feedback you will receive.


  • The four Finalists will be judged by four experienced acquiring agents and will be announced on Bloom, the Facebook group run by the Tall Poppy Authors, and on the Tall Poppy Writers’ social media platforms. (See below for more information about our literary agent judges.)
  • From the four finalists, the agent judges will select the winner.


  • The winner will receive a full critique of their submission from a New York Times, USA Today, or Washington Post Bestselling Tall Poppy Author.

Important Dates:

  • April 13, 2020: Contest closes to entries
  • July 1, 2020: Finalists announced
  • August 1, 2020: Winners announced



The Literary Agent Judges

Liza Fleissig, Liza Royce Agency

Liza Fleissig is a founder of LRA, a cross-platform company that provides development, representation, and strategic career management for clients in all media, from the most established to those developing their craft. A former partner in a NYC based litigation law firm, Liza brings over 25 years of negotiating experience to the field. This background, along with connections rooted in publishing, movies, and television, allows her to build on a referral based clientele. From picture books through adult projects, fiction and non-fiction, she welcomes strong voices and plot driven works.

Rachel Ekstrom, Folio Literacy Agency

Rachel Ekstrom Courage is an agent at Folio Literary Management representing fiction and select nonfiction, with a particular focus on thrillers, book club fiction, young adult, and middle grade. Some of her clients include Sandra Block, Ann Garvin, Amy E. Reichert, Jacqueline Sheehan, and Weina Dai Randel.

Previously an agent at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, Rachel spent over a decade as a book publicist, first working on mysteries and thrillers for Minotaur, then holding managerial and directorial roles at Penguin’s Dutton and Gotham imprints and St. Martin’s Press. She’s also the founder of Littsburgh, a literary community, and is on the advisory board of Write Pittsburgh.

Over the course of her career, she’s worked with a range of bestselling and award-winning authors, and she’s eagerly looking for new voices and projects, particularly upmarket fiction with an immediate, commercially appealing voice, with a unique or vivid setting.

Melissa Jeglinski, Knight Agency

A graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in English with a writing concentration, Melissa began her career as an editor with Harlequin Enterprises. Looking to work with a variety of authors and genres, she joined The Knight Agency in 2008.  With over two decades experience in the publishing industry, Melissa has fostered her clients to National prominence including a recent Newbery Honor. She is a member of RWA and AAR. Melissa is currently seeking projects in the following areas:  Romance (contemporary, category, historical, inspirational) Young Adult, Middle Grade, Women’s Fiction and Mystery.

​Melanie Castillo, Root Agency

Melanie wants to work with the kind of stories that both create and sustain life-long readers—books that make her sigh with contentment, learn something new, or take delight in the unexpected. Those stories stay with you, and they’re a gift she wants to help give readers by lifting up the voices of talented and hard-working creatives.

In all cases—no matter what genre you’re writing in—she wants to read books that are inclusive and that accurately reflect our world. She likes characters who aren’t your typical lead and to be surprised by the unexpected.

The Fine Print

  • Sponsored and coordinated by Tall Poppy Writers Partners LLC (TPW).
  • Entrants must be 18 years or older and own the rights to the work they’re submitting.
  • Although we don’t require you to reside in the United States, we do require all submissions to be in English.
  • You may submit as many entries as you like, as long as each submission is a distinct piece of work and meets entry deadlines.
  • We define book-length work as a manuscript with a finished total length of greater than 55,000 words or more.
  • TPW make no claims to any rights over your work, even if you win.
  • Relatives of the TPW or judges are not eligible.
  • Only single author stories qualify (no co-authored stories).
  • Stories can be fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, or memoir. Prose only, no poetry.
  • Any failure to adhere to these Contest Rules may result in disqualification from the Contest.
  • All decisions of the judges are final and binding and not subject to appeal or review.
  • Prizes are not redeemable for cash, non-transferable, and non-substitutable, except at the sole discretion of the TPW.
  • Losses, claims and liabilities arising out of participation in the Contest or resulting from acceptance or claiming of any prize hereunder. TPW reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate, suspend or otherwise cancel the Contest at any time. TPW is not responsible for any expenses incurred in connection with participation in the Contest.
  • All entries must be received by April 13, 2020, to be eligible.
  • Contest rules are subject to modification by TPW at their discretion.
  • This contest is void where prohibited.