You’ve finished your manuscript. It’s been revised, edited and polished. You’ve written a synopsis, honed your pitch and practised what to do if stuck in an elevator. You’re ready. It’s time to query.
After meticulous researching of which agent/editor/publisher is a match for you, you’ve created a short list and are prepped to begin. Your mouse hovers over the ‘send’ button. Fear, excitement, self doubt, anticipation all war together. With one click your stomach drops. You did it. You’ve started querying. You sit back and wait for a response.
And wonder, ‘did they get my query? It’s been months and I’ve heard nothing. Should I resend? Is it a rejection? Maybe it went to spam. I’ll just refresh my inbox a few thousand more times.’
The agony and the elation of writing your ms dissipates during the querying process. If only there was some way to speed it all up…
Enter the pitching competitions. Yanicke took us through the numerous twitching competitions available on Twitter. You cast your line out there and know immediately if there is a bite.
Another option is the on-line pitching competitions whereby you submit your 200 – 250 word pitch (or thereabouts) by a due date and know within a short period of time if you’ve had a nibble. Perfect for those inbox refresher obsessors like me.
Generally your pitch is posted on a blog page where publishers, agents and/or editors read and make requests for partials or (ideally) fulls. Due to the short time frames, the wait period is considerably less painful and you get to by-pass the slush piles. It will also give you an idea of if your pitch is up to scratch. If you don’t get any requests, it might be time to re-work your pitch. Here are some great tips from Gabbie’s time at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival.
There are a few rules to remember when entering these competitions.
1. Read the guidelines thoroughly. If you don’t stick to the formatting/word count etc you run the risk of being excluded from the competition.
2. Understand what the competition is for. If it is a romance competition and you are pitching fantasy, be prepared for disappointment. This also applies to the people you might be pitching to. Do your research.
3. Be on time. There is often a submission window you don’t want to miss. For me this usually falls in the middle of the night. I set my alarm, wake up bleary eyed and press ‘send’ on my pre-prepared entry. The window might be as short as two hours or even open only to the first 50 so watch that clock!
4. Make sure your manuscript is completed. Don’t enter if you aren’t ready to send off a finished ms.
5. Have fun. It’s exciting to be part of the process so join in the twitter parties. It’s a great way to meet other participants.
Pitching competitions I’ve entered include:
This was not only my first ever pitching comp but my first time pitching anywhere! This was such a boost to my confidence as a writer as I received positive responses. In this comp, publishers made requests for partials and fulls AND there have been several success stories. Pitcharama ran in 2013 and 2014. No word yet of a 2015 round but here’s hoping for 2016.
Agent Match February
Samantha Fountain is one of the queens of pitching competitions. For this Valentine’s Day themed comp, you submit your correctly formatted pitch for agents to request a ‘date’ with your ms.
Pitch to Publication June/July
Another gem from Samantha Fountain where writers select five editors to pitch to. The editors narrow their favourites down to one each. They then work with their chosen ms to hone the entry for pitching to a publisher. The editors donate their time for free. How cool is that?
Nest Pitch Easter
Pitch Madness March
Run by another pitching competition queen, Brenda Drake, writers submit a 35-word pitch and the first 250 words of your ms for agents to request from.
Pitch Wars August (2015 entries close 17th)
Another competition from Brenda Drake, Pitch Wars sees industry professionals mentor selected manuscripts and give advice on pitches. To enter you must submit a query and the first chapter. After a two-month mentoring period, the revised manuscripts are then pitched to agents.
Here’s a secret of mine – I’ve not yet done any traditional querying, yet thanks to pitching competitions I’ve had several agent and publisher requests. It’s so exciting!
Have you had a success story with a pitching competition? Are there any competitions I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments.
Happy pitching! 😀 FMS