With Brenda Drake’s #PitchMadness once again on the horizon, I wanted to touch on the pros and cons of contests.
Writing is a choice – sort of. You can choose to make time for it or go insane, at least, that’s how it works for me.
That being said – as I’ve previously posted, there are as many different processes for writing as there are writers. No two people will write exactly the same way.
This, of course, means – No two paths to publishing are exactly the same.
If you’ve been around Twitter much at all for the last couple of years, you’ll have noticed query, pitch and first page contests popping up all around. The writing community on Twitter is amazing. It’s supportive, motivational and so helpful it’ll give you back hope for the human race.
In case you didn’t know, I found my first agent through Brenda Drake’s PitchMadness in March 2012. By a weird sort of twist of events, this led me to my amazing current agent when my original agent changed career paths. She was able to refer my finished and unsubbed MS to a number of agents, one of whom was Bree.
That aside – for me, contests worked. Immediately. They don’t work for everyone. Not everyone finds their agent that way, or for a very long time. However, just like querying, taking part in contests is a very valid choice to pursue on the road to publication.
With social media becoming more entwined with everything people do, there’s no better way to reach out and interact with agents, editors, publishers and fellow writers.
You can attend conferences and network, you can query oldschool style, and these days you can network (to an extent) via online social media outlets.
However, don’t dive in thinking that contests are the be all and end all. Just like you would when querying, make sure you research those agents taking part and offering as a result of online pitch type contests.
A nice little check list of things to do:
- Research the contest – does it have a history?
- Is it run by reputable people?
- Who is participating?
- If it’s a contest that announces its agent participants on a blog – who are these agents?
- Are any of them people you might have queried but were closed?
- Do you think this contest will give you exposure/a chance to network that you wouldn’t otherwise have?
- If they’re not people you would usually be interested in, make sure to examine your motives for taking part. Don’t waste an agents time if you don’t think you’d accept an offer from them anyway if you were to receive one.
- What type of contest is it: Is it a 130char pitch contest?
- Can you condense your pitch enough for this?
- Is pitching in such a condensed style something you even want to do? Be wary of doing something just to do it.
- Also, make sure if it’s a pitch (request by favouriting contest) that you don’t just send to editors and agents. Make your choice about your path. Be certain garnering a request from an editor is what you want, over an agent.
Remember: Not all agents will participate in first page/query/pitch type contests.
They prefer to be queried in the old manner. Don’t rule this method out of how you plan to go about things.
Always research who the best agent might be for you and pursue them via whatever means you can/choose to.
Remember – anything you do with your writing is a choice. Whichever way you choose to pursue publishing, be it traditional or author publishing – is a valid for you. Don’t let lectures, or other’s opinions sway you in what you want to do. Just promise me you’ll always make your choices informed ones.
Hope this helps some people!
Let me know if you have any questions.