Now that PitchSlam is over, I have some overall observations on contests.
- If an agent doesn’t request to see more, that is not a rejection. Many agents will say that it’s OK to query them after a contest. For one thing, the submission guidelines may be different. If the agent read a pitch, and you have a full query letter that tells more about the story, they might be more interested. If you write in the type of quiet genre that doesn’t always start with action on the first page and the agent requests 10 pages with a query, maybe the agent will connect more with entire opening.
- Do not compare yourself to other writers. In every contest, there is one entry that gets more requests than the others or requests for more pages. You’re on your own journey. Don’t worry about anyone else.
- There are always some entries that don’t get any requests. This is not a reflection on you as a writer. Sometimes it means your opening page could use more work. Sometimes it means that you wrote in a genre the agents weren’t looking for. If your word count is outside the norm for your genre, that could be reflected in a lack of requests. Sometimes it means you’ve already queried every agent in the contest who represents your genre.
- Keep Things in Perspective. The contest organizers and slush readers read more than 125 entries. If you were picked, someone liked your entry better than 100 other entries. That’s a huge accomplishment. Requests or no, you should be proud of yourself. You’re on the right track.
Go you! Party! Celebrate! You’re awesome!
- Keep Going. Don’t give up because you didn’t get a specific request you wanted, or as many requests as you wanted. As always, review the first page, solicit feedback, and keep going. I know I’ve said this about 100 times, but contests aren’t the only way to get an agent.
- If you’ve made friends and/or gotten some useful feedback, you’ve already won. Seriously. The friends, the critique partners, the distraction from waiting on outstanding queries, any feedback you receive – that’s what contests are about. Agent requests are just the icing on the cake.
Querying is a numbers game. Once the manuscript is ready, it becomes about getting it in front of the right agent at the right time. And the only way to do that is to keep sending it out. You can do it.
And now…. get ready for Nightmare on Query Street! Submissions open today at noon. Good luck!