After participating in my first pitch contest, I learned some valuable lessons that I want to pass on. Maybe it will help those even less experienced than myself.
1) They are fun: I had a BLAST participating in PitchMAS! That is the most important lesson. It was incredibly fun with tons of other supportive writers all participating and sending love to one another. Pitch contests are definitely my speed because they are fast-paced and to the point. That is precisely my style! I like to get to the point and sometimes, using more words that necessary to describe or pitch a novel is a pain. Plus, it was a ton of fun to read everyone else’s pitches too!
2) They are great exposure: I got exactly two bites out of the contest, but that is two more than I had before. The agent who showed interest is one I NEVER would have queried based on the information on her agency’s website and the publisher was one I had never heard of. Not to mention there were possibly thousands of people who saw my pitches on Twitter. Even though there were not a million people chomping at the bit for my pitches, people saw them and there were some nibbles. I consider myself lucky to have those two nibbles because it only takes one to change everything. I am not delusional, but I am also optimistic.
3) They save you time: I was able to pitch to lots of agents and editors simultaneously without having to write each a query letter and get that lovely rejection letter we all know and love. There were many agents that participated in this contest that I was planning on querying who were not interested in my novel. THAT IS FINE! It saved me a ton of time querying them all and writing letters and looking at requirements and waiting patiently just to get a no. Even though I am bummed they were not interested, it was a huge time saver.
4) It refined my pitch: Refining my pitches, having others read them and critique them, and getting feedback is super helpful. I had my husband, who knows even less than I know about publishing, read my pitches. The one we worked on together made the top 75. He gave great feedback and helped me really get to the heart of my novel. That is invaluable. I had to consider what my book was really about and how I could convey that meaningfully. Now, I definitely have a better query letter because I took that same approach when I was rewriting it to send to agents. Super helpful!
5) Connecting with the writing community: There really is a community of writers, agents, and publishers, who want you and your novel to succeed. Everyone is RIDICUOUSLY nice and supportive. I love it. I love helping someone else and seeing them succeed. I also love the advice of others who have been at this much longer than I have. Their encouragement means a lot.
6) NO HARM NO FOUL: The most important lesson I have learned is if you do not try, you are no better off than you were before. I didn’t have a HUGE amount of response to my pitches, but I am better off than I was a week ago. Even I get some feedback about my novel from those I sent it to, this whole experience was a win. I am willing to learn whatever I have to, to make becoming a writer work. Often times, that means putting your work out there to be ridiculed or hopefully, praised. Regardless, because I tried, I am better off than I was before. But it will never happen if you don’t put yourself out there and try.
Happy Holidays Everyone. Here is to a New Year filled with promise, trying new things, and conquering goals.