If you’ve decided to go the traditional route for publishing, you’ve probably researched and know all about the good ole query routine. Write the letter, tailor it to each specific agent, follow the rules to snail mail or email the query along with your first five pages or the dreaded synopsis. But there are other ways to get your work in front of the eyes of agents, and no I’m not talking about stalking them and shoving your work in their home mailboxes or sliding them under windshield wipers.
One of the perks of social media is you get to follow a wide range of people, be it other writers, bloggers, agents, etc. and many of them want to help you get your work out there. I’m talking about pitch contests! I’ve found Twitter is especially handy for finding these kinds of things. Besides holding chats that can answer your questions and help you polish your pitch, you can often find tweets and re-tweets about contests being held where the prizes can range from having pages reviewed to asking for partials. That means you skip that big slush pile the agent’s assistants are scouring for talent. Okay, maybe there’s a smaller slush pile you have to go through in order to win, but hey, nothing worthwhile is easy. The great part about these contests is that there are often several agents participating so if one isn’t interested in your work, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out.
Brenda Drake is a YA and MG author who often holds contests these kinds of contests. They’re called Pitch Madness or Twitter Pitch Parties (140 characters to pitch your work is hard but great practice, even if you don’t get chosen!). She has a great following and works hard to set things up, bringing in great agents and dedicated slush readers. It’s a really great experience for an author with a complete manuscript looking to maybe get their foot in the publishing door.
The downside to entering contests such as these is that it’s unlikely you’ll get feedback on why you were rejected. I participated in one of the Twitter Pitch Parties several months ago and caught an agent’s eye. He requested a partial (which I squealed over) and then told me he was going to pass on it. He was kind enough to let me know the voice wasn’t right for him, which was more feedback than I expected to get so definitely not a failure in my eyes. I also took place in the most recent Pitch Madness contest and found I made it to the second round. I’m hopefully but trying not to hold my breath. Again, the learning experience and possibility alone will be worth it. We learn from every failure, right? Got to think positively about it all!
Conventions are also places where you may have the opportunity to pitch agents. I haven’t tried this yet but I’m not sure I could handle the face to face rejection. I’m sure I’d babble and stumble over my short pitch, but I know others who have gotten requests thanks to in person pitches. Couldn’t hurt to try!
Just keep in mind that even if you “win” that doesn’t mean your book will be published, it just means the agent is interested enough to want to read more. Perhaps it’s not your ultimate goal, to merely have some pages read , but it’s a step in the right direction and that’s a pretty damn good prize in my opinion.
Have you entered any online contests or pitched in person? How did it work for you?
Also, if you’d like to give a contest a change, there will be a Twitter Pitch Party on March 29th from 8 AM to 6 PM. Prep your pitches and use the hashtag #PitMad . Also, Miss Snark’s First Victim is holding a contest starting next week as well. Stop by and check out the requirements. Best of luck to everyone and if you decide to participate, please come back and let me know how it went!