Should You Enter That Pitch Contest?

Photo credit: amortize on Flickr
So I’ve already written about why you should consider entering pitch contests, but I’d like to talk about the other side of the coin—that is, reasons you might not want to enter, or may want to pause before entering a contest.

Because the truth is, yes, contests are exciting and yes, they are absolutely wonderful opportunities that have lead to many writers landing agents or publishing contracts. But there are a couple questions you’ll want to ask yourself before entering a pitch contest:
  1. Is my manuscript polished? No really, be honest with yourself. These contests are for writers who are ready to query, or already are querying. If you’re not ready, then you won’t be doing yourself any favors by submitting early. Remember, you only get one first impression—don’t you want yours to be the very best it can be?

    Side note: if you see a contest coming up and you’re tempted to rush through your edits so that it’s ready on time—don’t. Take all the time you need to make your manuscript as good as you can possibly make it. There will always be another contest, but as I said above, you only get one first impression. 

  2. What can I get from this contest? Different writing/pitch contests have different prizes and goals. Some put your pitch in front of agents and/or editors, some provide winners with critiques and some do both. Make sure you understand what the aim of the contest is, and be sure you actually want the prize. If, for example, the winners have their pitches posted in front of agents or editors you aren’t interested in working with, then don’t waste the judges (and the publishing professionals) time by entering.  
If you’ve answered these questions favorably, then great! Get your pitch and whatever other entry requirements ready, follow the submission guidelines and good luck! But if not, then you may want to think long and hard before hitting that “submit” button.

For fun, here are some pitch contests that (I think) happen every year, with estimated dates:

NOTE: This is not a comprehensive list of contests, nor is their listing a guarantee that they'll be running again this year. This list is speculation based off previous years. Also, if you know of some contests I'm missing, feel free to let me know!

Have you entered any pitch contests? What was your experience like? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Thinking you might enter that pitch contest? Make sure you ask yourselves these questions first. (Click to tweet
"You only get one first impression—don't you want yours to be the very best it can be?" #pubtip (Click to tweet)


Patchi said...

Thanks for the post. I've been pondering the same questions as I revise my manuscript based on feedback from the last contest. It's very easy to talk yourself into a situation where you think by the time the request comes in you'll be ready. But will the MS be as perfect as you want it to be when an agent sees it?

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome, Patchi! And you're exactly right. It can be difficult to hold off on a contest you wanted to enter because you're still revising, but you definitely don't want to end up in a situation where you've entered and received requests and have to rush your revisions because of it.

Shay De Flory said...

Fantastic post, Ava! Love the Twitter links. Although they may not be guaranteed, it's nice to keep an eye out. A majority of my Titter ops come from you!

It's definitely very easy to get caught up in the excitement of Twitter Pitches and join in when you're not ready. But (so far) the publishing world isn't about to shut down straight after, so yes, patience is key. The last thing anyone wants to do is hurt themselves by sending an agent an unpolished MS. They may feel less inclined to look at your work again even after you polish.

Bad impressions can last!

Enjoy your weekend everyone :D

Ava Jae said...

Thank you, Shay! So glad to hear I've been able to help you find some online opportunities. :)

You're completely right about shooting yourself in the foot with unpolished submissions. As you said, bad impressions can last, and the last thing you want is a publishing professional to have a bad impression of your work.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I hope you have a wonderful weekend as well! ^_^,

JMW said...

Just so you know, the link to the 'Luck O' The Irish Pitch Fest' link above leads to a site with a trojan virus on it.

Ava Jae said...

Oh no! I removed it for now. Thanks for the heads up!

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