Why Enter Pitch Contests?

Photo credit: William Hook on Flickr
So on Monday we discussed why you don’t have to worry about other writers stealing your ideas when publicly sharing the pitch for your novel, and now I’d like to talk about the cheerier side of the coin: why enter pitch contests at all?

The idea behind the pitch contest is simple: it’s an opportunity for writers to pitch their novel to agents and editors online.

Now some of you may be wondering how this is any different from traditional querying. After all, querying is similar in that you’re pitching your story to an agent or editor in the hopes that they will be interested enough to see more.

Pitch contests, however, are entirely different for many reasons:

  • Different mindset. Agents and editors who participate in pitch contests go in with a different mindset than they do when facing the query slush pile. These are publishing professionals who are volunteering to check out the pitches and are actively looking for something to catch their eye. It’s faster (reading just a pitch is much quicker than a full query letter), the response is instant and it’s even a little exciting. The atmosphere is different than the traditional slush pile, and that alone can make all the difference.

  • One pitch, multiple viewers. The thing with query letters is that you can’t send the same exact query letter to fifty agents or editors at once (well, you can, but you probably won’t be very successful). While querying, you have to choose specific agents and editors to personalize your query to. You’re seeking them out and hoping that they’ll be interested.

    Not so with pitch contests. In a pitch contest, your single pitch may be viewed by dozens of agents and editors—including those you may not have thought to query. It’s one of the few opportunities writers have to throw their pitch out into the wild and see if they get any bites from any agent or editor trolling the pitch feed, and that alone is a huge advantage.

  • Support network. When pitch contests go live, there are often hundreds of writers who participate. You’re all in this together, and the nice thing is you can help each other out—whether it’s offering support, advice to tighten the pitch, or general feedback. As a bonus, when it’s on twitter, writers are able to retweet pitches they like to help them get attention. It’s also a great way to get to know other writers and make friendships along the way.

  • It works. I think this round-up tweet from @Shelley_Watters says it all:
In short, if you haven’t given pitch contests a try, I can’t recommend it more. There are two coming up in March, one hosted by WriteOnCon (which includes pitch critiques before the contest, which is basically gold even if you don’t enter the contest) and another hosted by Brenda Drake and company. If you have a manuscript ready for querying (or will in March), definitely mark the dates on your calendar!

Have you ever participated in a pitch contest or something of the like? What was your experience like?


Daisy Carter said...

Great post! I LOVE pitch contests - they're a great way to get your work seen. I hosted my agent on my blog, and she requested materials from over a dozen writers!

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Daisy! I've only just started participating, but I love them. They're truly fantastic opportunities for everyone involved.

And congrats on the success with the contest you hosted! That's wonderful!

Leslie S. Rose said...

I'm a huge fan of the pitch contest. Not only have I had decent luck on requests, but I learn so much from reading everyone's pitches.

Ava Jae said...

Agreed! It's great to be able to see which pitches are working and get some tips on how you can rework yours.

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