Now that Query Kombat is over (and with New Agent coming up on Wednesday), I want to explain some of things that impacted some of my votes. Hopefully, it’ll be useful for future contests and people thinking about submitting to me in Pitch Wars. Yes, I frequently picked the entry with the voice that spoke to me more, or the plot that seemed more my style. But there are also entries where I cast a vote against the losing entry rather than for the winning entry. And it’s important because many of those votes weren’t based on the writing or the concept at all.
Here are some things NOT to do during a writing contest:*
- Tweeting that only the judges who voted for you understood your manuscript or imply that those who voted for the other entry weren’t smart enough for your book. Here’s an interesting tidbit: The judges know how to read. So when you insinuate that people who didn’t vote for you are stupid, you’ve flat-out lost me. And there’s a good chance I’ll remember your name in future contests.
- Not seizing the opportunities to revise. One of the greatest things about QueryKombat is that it gives authors the opportunity to receive feedback and revise your entries. As a judge, it’s extremely disappointing to see that some people barely touched their entries. Why did you enter a contest that provides feedback you didn’t want? It’s not our job to pat you on the back and tell you how awesome you are. That’s your mom’s job. Yes, I’m aware that all feedback is subjective and it’s ultimately up to the author to decide what to implement—I’ve also rejected feedback in the past (everyone has). But when multiple people have the same comment over and over… you need to seriously stop what you’re doing and consider why we’re telling you to fix that issue. We spent a lot of time writing our comments, so it’s frustrating when they appear to be flat-out ignored.
- Tweeting that feedback given is wrong. If you disagree, do so privately. Always put your most professional face forward on social media. Always. Agents are watching, editors are watching, and the people who do contests are watching, too.
- Gloating on Twitter about votes in your favor, agent requests, or comments. It’s poor form. We can figure out which entry belongs to whom (it’s really easy, especially since I was also a slush reader). If you’re obnoxious when tweeting about the contest, it makes me really hesitant to throw votes your way.
* Some of these are things were observed in prior contests. All are things I’ve seen more than once from different people over the past year.