Why Pitch Contests Are About Way More Than Just Winning

As part of my foray into the Query Trenches, I've been entering a few pitching contests. If you don't know what a pitching contest is, it's basically a contest where you submit a pitch for a chance to get it in front of agents. With some pitching contests, you enter your pitch (and sometimes the first page or so of your book) via email. With others, you have to tweet a short pitch, and if an agent or editor "likes" it, then it's an invitation to submit to them.

And for me, it's going brilliantly. But here's the thing: I haven't yet won anything from them.

So how does that work? How can they be going brilliantly when I haven't won anything?

Because you can get more from pitching contests than prizes.

I entered my first contest in January. It was Sun vs Snow, hosted by Michelle Hauck and Amy Trueblood. I made it into the first 200 submitted entries -- meaning that I would at least be considered for a spot in the agent round -- but ultimately, I didn't get any further.

HOWEVER, there was a Twitter hashtag for writers to chat on, so I made loads of new writer friends. One of them became my critique partner, and my book has improved by leaps and bounds because of her awesomeness. WIN!

The second contest I entered was Brenda Drake's Pitch Madness. Again, I didn't get any further than the initial round.

HOWEVER, the cool thing about Pitch Madness is that, since it's one of the biggest contests of the year, loads of freelance editors were giving away critique packages for free. So even before the contest started, I'd had a couple of professionals look over my materials. And, like Sun vs Snow, there was a writer hashtag, where I met even more amazing writers. In fact, we all had so much fun with each other that a couple of writers made a new Twitter hashtag -- #ontheporch -- which is now a thriving writer's support group. And it all grew out of Pitch Madness! WIN!

The third contest I entered, which just happened this last week, was Brenda Drake's #PitMad -- a Twitter pitching contest. Technically, I did "win" with this one -- with #ontheporch's help, I was able to craft several Twitter pitches, and I got a few likes from publishers!* WIN!

So I reiterate: pitching contests are about way more than just winning. They're about making new friends, learning new things, and finding new opportunities. If you're a writer in the Query Trenches, and you're not sure about entering pitching contests, I'm here to tell you: DO IT. You've got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

And if you're not sure where to start, start with #ontheporch. You'll never find a more supportive group of writers willing and ready to help you whip yourself (and your materials) into shape for submission.

Pitching contests are a great way to make new connections!

*Unfortunately, I couldn't query any of those publishers, because it's ill-advised to query both agents and publishers at the same time. But I got validation that my pitch worked, and that's the main thing :)


  1. great post. Although I think it's fair game to pitch to publishers and agents at the same time. It opens up your opportunities. If I waited, I wouldn't have two books published.

    1. Thank you! And yes, that's a very good point -- sometimes, breaking the "rules" can lead to success.