Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pitch Contests - Good? Bad? Worth it?

As you may or may not know #PitchMadness is in full swing and the top 60 pitches will be announced on Friday. If you don't know - here's a link to fill you in on the details.

The question begs to be asked, what do you think of pitch contests? It's obvious that lots of people like them (they're 478 entries, yikes!) But how beneficial are they?

I've heard stories of people getting agents through pitch contests *cough* PK Hrezo *cough* but I wonder if the majority of people find representation this way? Probably not.


Still, that didn't keep me from entering Pitch Madness. Why? Because it's all about getting your work in front of the right people, and improving.

Let me preface the rest of this post by reminding everyone to please stay away from contest where you aren't interested in the agents/publishers. It's a waste of everyone's time. Moving on...

Sometimes opportunities are available through contests that you can't get through slush pile querying. There's an agent participating in Pitch Madness who's closed to unsolicited submissions. Big deal? Yes.

So what if you don't make it to the agent round? 418 people aren't going to make it in front of the agents. Was entering worth it? I still think so. The #PitchMadness thread on twitter has been exploding with amazing information on how to write a good pitch and get your MS noticed.

Not to mention that the top 60 have obviously done something right. Even if I don't make it, I can learn from people who did.

I want to hear what you think. Is a contest worth it? Did you enter Pitch Madness? Why?

P. S. I did an interview with Livia Peterson a few months back, which she posted yesterday. Check it out here!

25 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I read your interview yesterday!
If there is feedback, then I think it still benefits those who enter.
And no, I've never entered one.

ilima said...

I am pro pitch contests all the way. I received an offer of rep through one and a really close offer of rep through another (though I ended up signing with another agent). I've had 2 CP's sign with agents through pitch contests. So, yeah. They work.

Ava Jae said...

Firstly—good luck! I didn't enter this time because I wasn't ready when the contest entries were open, but I'm definitely pro pitch contests. There are so many success stories out there and I've heard of more than one example of a writer getting rejected by an agent through the slush pile, then getting a request from that same agent during a contest. If you can participate, it's a great way to skip the slush pile. :)

I for one will be participating in #PitMad on the 12th. Can't wait!

Cassie Mae said...

I didn't get my agent through a pitch contest, but I did get the advice/feedback for how to improve my ms enough to get my agent. i'll be forever grateful for the contests I entered.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Well, you already know I entered, so I think they're worth it. :) It's great getting the twitter tips plus, like you said, we'll see the top 60. Put a 'face' on the competition and understand why they made it on and learn from them.

Katie Dodge said...

Definitely worth it. Even if it does drive you a bit crazy watching the Twitter feed. :) Good luck!!

Julie Luek said...

I've never participated in one, but can imagine, like a lot of things in writing, the more practice you get, the more comfortable you feel. Sounds like a great way to practice and perfect.

Huntress, aka CD Coffelt said...

I entered a pitch contest a couple years ago after the agent judging the show rejected my emailed query. I thought, WTH and submitted the same pitch.

She asked for more pages. *shocked* Ultimately she did reject the ms but not after giving me some extremely helpful hints. I took her ideas and submitted later to a small press. They snapped it up and published Wilder Mage.

I give credit to the agent and her advice, but laugh about how she rejected then accepted the same query in a matter of weeks.

ilima said...

Also, I think most queries are read by interns, so contests are a great way to get your pitch in front of the actual agent. The query rejection followed by pitch contest request from the same agent has happened to me too for this very reason and is very very common. Don't be afraid to put your self out there! Good luck, Jennie.

Kyra Lennon said...

I've never entered a pitch contest, but only because I decided I wanted to self-publish, so I never had a need to. But I do think they're a good idea - as you said, you can get great tips from them!

Susan Francino said...

This was a good reminder that even if I'm not ready to enter a pitch contest yet, I should be checking out winners and finalists to learn from them! Thanks!

Terri Tiffany said...

I entered but really am not sure how I like them or not. I did enjoy the feedback some of the people gave but other than that, would love to learn more.

Christine Tyler said...

I've never even entered a pitch contest and I've still learned so much from keeping up with them.

Good luck!

Mark Noce said...

I have mixed feelings about them myself. It can be good at first in order to hone your skills, but in the end what perks one person's ear will not necessarily interest another. Imagine trying to pitch the plot of Star Wars or Hitchcock's Psycho to someone who had never seen those films. It would sound pretty odd in any pitch;)

Melanie Fowler said...

I think they're fun to do. Like you said, if anything it's about improving your pitch.

Heather Holden said...

You never know how far you'll go until you try, so I can definitely see how entering a contest like this is worth it, no matter what the outcome...

Rena said...

Yeah, I think pitch contests can really help people figure out where their pitch stands. Not the sort of grading you get from taking an exam, but a more general "do people like this?" sort of feedback.

Having said that, I know you can get feedback from the straight up query process.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Worth it! You get a chance to put your work out there and maybe get really helpful feedback at least.

Suzi said...

Definitely worth it. I didn't do Pitch madness this time, but I've done it before.

Rena said...

I have entered a couple contests before but didn't really get involved on Twitter. This time, I have been interacting with a lot of new writers, and even found some possible CPs. Even if I didn't make it past the first round, what I've learned from the contest and the connections I've made have proved to be invaluable.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I entered Pitch Madness back in the spring (I think it was pitch madness) and landed a full request. But that's not the agent I ended up signing with. In fact, I waited and waited and waited along time to hear back from the agent, and only did in the end because I had another offer. But the contest was a lot of fun, especially since my entry was save from the slushpile at the last moment.

J E Oneil said...

I think they can be useful. They might not be keys to instant success, but at least it can hone your pitches. That's way more valuable. Well, almost as valuable.

Morgan said...

Oh my gosh... For some reason, I never had success with all those contest things! Ugh! But I always had huge success querying, so... it's interesting. I say it's always a good thing to put ourselves out there... because you never know what will happen!!!!

Carrie-Anne said...

I've gotten a few behind the scenes partial requests from pitch contests, but they didn't culminate in agent representation. It's nice to get feedback from these contests, and see what kinds of pitches worked, but I feel like the odds are stacked against me since I write historical. I see so few historical entries in these contests, and not so many agents who seem really passionate about historical.

Sarah said...

Hey, good luck! I wasn't paying enough attention to see Pitch Madness was going on again, but I'm not too sad about missing it because I wouldn't have been ready for it in time anyway.

I hope something good comes of it for you. Where is your entry located? I want to see how you do.