‘Tis the season for all things pitch contest. Since I am new to this whole publishing thing, I wanted to put this out there for those who are novices too. It is simply what I have learned by looking at submissions and submitting to some myself.
I love that most of these contests have a maximum word requirement, which is typically pretty small. Yes, it is difficult. I write several and then rethink. Sometimes I merge one idea to another and tweak some more. But the challenge is the beauty of it. The ability to be succinct in your pitch and make every word count is a great exercise in editing, revising, and word choice. Three things that every author has to master, like it or not.
After concocting a few of them and hemming and hawing for a while, I give them to someone else to look at. I ask them which one or combo of two would make you read this book. The feedback I get is always constructive and helpful, even if I choose not to go with their suggestions. It is an exercise in good literary judgment. It also ensure you have something that is marketable and would make someone want to read the rest of your book. Your pitch has to be persuasive and if it isn’t forget it. Always make sure that you get some feedback before posting.
The glory of the pitch contest is that feedback and results are fairly instantaneous (for all the anxious ones like me). There is no waiting around for rejection letters. There is no driving yourself to insanity with anxiety. As a writer, you receive prompt feedback and adjust accordingly. Obviously, one person’s opinion is not the final say. But if your pitch has missed in two or three pitch contests, there is something wrong. It takes a lot less time to figure that out with pitch contests because you get feedback so fast.
Finally, I love that they reach a wide variety of authors and editors. There are always some fantastic people who sign up to look at the pitches. In all honesty, it is a great opportunity for them to not dig through their inbox for something great. They can quickly scan a list of pitches and choose the ones who scream to them. As a writer, you essentially submit all at once to multiple agents and it can definitely ease the burden of querying.
The pitch contest is a great beginning and supplement to the traditional route of querying. They provide new challenges, great feedback and a wider more diverse audience of agents and editors. Thank the book gods!