Online Pitch Contests

I recently had the opportunity to participate in three different pitch/query events and wanted to share with you observations about each!  


This event was hosted by Krista Van Dolzer although I learned about it through Brenda Drake’s website--a great resource for any writer.  Everyone had to enter a lottery.  200 participants are chosen and then asked to post their query letter and writing sample onto their blog.  (Mine is here if you want to take a look although the query letter has changed since then.)  The coaches then review all of the posts and choose teams of eight.  The coaches then polish their team’s entries and submit them to participating agents at the end of the month. 

Sadly, my entry was not chosen for this event but I wanted to include it in this blog post because it is a great opportunity to keep in mind for the future.  I received very helpful feedback on my query letter and writing sample and the coaches and hosts are super sweet and encouraging.  I also found a supportive community of fellow writers.  If given the opportunity, I would definitely do it again!


This event was running simultaneously to The Writer’s Voice and since I was entered in both, it certainly kept me busy!  It’s hosted by Michelle Hauk, Michael Anthony, and SC Author.  I don’t remember how I found out about it but when I did, I knew I had to take the plunge!  From the entries, the three hosts chose teams for a total of 64 participants.  This time, I was selected to be on Michael's team!!  Awesome!  Just goes to show how subjective the publishing world can be--you win some, you lose some!  Even looking over the picks of both Query Kombat and Writer’s Voice, there's not a lot of overlap and it blows my mind to see how different they really are.  I suppose that’s a good thing so that there are enough books to go around for everyone!

The 64 picks were then pitted against one another based on genre.  Secret judges then voted on the individual battles, resulting in a winner.  My first round entry is here.  I was up against Joe McCourt who had an AWESOME YA Horror entry.  Seriously, give it a read if you have a chance!  It was a tough battle.  Both of us got a lot of good feedback... and some bad. :)  In the end, I came through with the win!

So what does that mean?  Next week I will submit a revised entry based on the feedback I received and then submit it for yet another round where I will matched up against a new opponent.  The best part is this next round is judged by AGENTS!!  So even if I don’t advance, I get more exposure for my manuscript, which is kind of the point, right?  :)


This is a Twitter event hosted by BrendaDrake.  I believe it happens four times a year and lasts for 12 hours.  Anyone can post a short tweet pitching their manuscript.  Then agents troll through the twitter feed and ‘favorite’ pitches that catch their eye.  If you are favorited, you have the opportunity to submit your manuscript to that agent.

Non-agents can show their support by re-tweeting your tweet.  I’m not that experienced with social media but I found this to be invaluable.  When any of my pitches were re-tweeted, I instantly got more re-tweets from their followers and so on and so forth.  I’m not positive but I believe I even got an agent favorite because someone re-tweeted my pitch and it found its way into his stream!  Thanks everyone who helped me with this!!!

I wanted to share with you the tweets that I put up during #PitMad because some were definitely more successful than others.  Before the event began, I did some research in an attempt to write more effective pitches.  If you are interested in participating in the future, check out Diana Urban's blog.  She has some great advice and a very useful worksheet you can use for preparation.  This helped me immensely.  So without further ado here are the tweets that I used.

These were by far the most effective.  I think it’s because they follow the rules that everyone talks about--make the stakes obvious!

  • Born disfigured, 15yo Talmage builds a clockwork twin. When twin murders, Talmage must dismantle his only friend. #PitMad #YA #Gothic #Horror

  • Disfigured teen ends his loneliness by creating a clockwork twin from corpses. Then twin rots, murders & refuses to die. #PitMad #YA #Horror

These next tweets were somewhere in the middle.  They got some response but not as much as the ones above.  I tried to be creative and try different things in terms of format etc to see what worked best.  Also, I tried to vary my tweets so that people didn’t get sick of seeing the same pitch over and over again.

  • In a curiosity wagon, two monstrous brothers--one good, the other made of clock parts & stolen corpses. As he rots, he murders. #YA #PitMad

  • When 15yo Talmage falls for Alice, his mistakes catch up to him--the clockwork boy he built hunts her in a jealous rage. #PitMad #YA #Horror

  • Rob a grave. Build a clockwork twin with corpses. Watch it rot and murder. 15yo Talmage shouldn't have meddled with creation. #PitMad #YA

And sadly, these last two fell flat.  I took them out of the rotation after just one post.

  • 15yo Talmage builds a clockwork boy covered in stolen corpses. Unlike Dr.Frankenstein's, this creation is welcomed as a brother. #PitMad #YA

  • Sibling rivalry at its worst: a clockwork brother covered in rotting flesh who wants to kill your girlfriend. #Gothic #Horror #YA #PitMad

So that's it for now!  I hope my observations help anyone who may be in the same boat as me!  I'm not sure how useful ANY of this events are in the big picture (I suppose that's still TBD) but if I'm trying to get my novel out there, I figure I should try all avenues.  And even if they don't lead me directly to an agent/publisher, participating has given me a sense of empowerment during this whole crazy process. I've met a lot of great people too.        


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