There is truth to the saying that the real work begins when you write “The End” on your manuscript. Once the final word is on the page it’s on to revisions and edits. And then, hopefully, a great manuscript gets passed on to beta readers and critique partners for further review.
But let’s say you’ve already gone through this process, and are ready to query. You put your letter together and hit “send” and wait. And wait. It’s frustrating, but you can do other things in the meantime to further your chance to get an agent. You can go to conferences, start following agents on social media, and you can enter contests.
Contests are an amazing way to gain access to, and share your work with, many agents at once. They allow you to share everything from your query, to your pitch, to even your first 250 words or first page. Many success stories have come out of contests (I know one personally). So if you want to put in the time and effort, contests are another good way to approach agents.
Now let me state for the record that contests in many ways take work. The people who coordinate and organize them require you to follow a specific submission process in order to participate. In addition, many times submission windows are only open for a specific date and time, and have a limit on how many entries can be included. So, as with querying, you must DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
Some things to think about…
1) Check out the people/blog holding the contest. Make sure they are reputable and have the agent contacts that will help further your writing.
2) Follow rules regarding how many manuscripts you are allowed to submit.
3) Confirm the contest is looking for your type of manuscript. Please don’t perfect your query and first 250 for your women’s literary fiction manuscript only to get rejected because the contest only wants Middle Grade and Young Adult.
A couple of other things to keep in mind…
1) Unless otherwise stated, most contests require a COMPLETED manuscript. Do not send in an entry for an MS that is only half-done. If you get a request, the agent is going to want to see the material right away – not in six months – when it’s done.
2) If you have an agent, DO NOT enter. Be considerate of aspiring writers. Don’t take their place in a contest where they have an opportunity to connect with an agent when you already have one.
With this all being said, do you think you’re ready to enter a contest? If so, I’ve started a list of three up-and-coming opportunities. If you know of more, please send me a comment and I will update the list.
And one last thing. Even if you don’t get a request, contests are a great place to connect with fellow writers (especially if you are required to comment on their work). Take the opportunity to network and meet other people who write in your genre. Who knows, maybe you’ll build a friendship that will last a lifetime!
May Pitch + 250
Hosted by: Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing
Dates: Submission window will open Sunday, April 28th at 3:00pm EST and close on May 3rd at 11:00pm EST, or when they receive 100 submissions, whichever comes first.
Details: Pitch+250 is open to YA, NA, and MG submissions of a pitch (100 words max) and the first 250 words of your completed manuscript. It will consist of three rounds of judging by bloggers, published authors, and agents. Full contest details here: http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com/2013/04/announcing-may-pitch250-contest.html
More details on judges can be found here: http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com/2013/04/announcing-judges-for-may-pitch250.html
The Writer’s Voice
Dates: Begins May 1 – with judging and mentoring going on through the end of May
Details: “The Writer’s Voice” is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.), Monica B.W. of LoveYA, and Brenda Drake. The premise is based on NBC’s singing reality show The Voice, so the four writers above will serve as coaches and select projects for their individual teams based on queries and first pages.
Link: Brenda Drake’s Blog for full contest details
Dates: The submission window opens at 11AM EST on Monday, May 13th and close at 11AM Friday, May 17th or when they receive 225 entries.
Details: Query Kombat will host 64 kombatants in a single-elimination, tournament style query-off. There will be a total of six rounds in Query Kombat. First opponents will be grouped by target audience (ie. YA, NA, Adult, and MG). After that, a bracket-style grid will dictate future opponents. If you secure a spot in the tournaments, your query and the first 250 words (to the end of a complete sentence) will be pitted against another query and first 250 words. Judges will read each match-up and vote ‘Victory’ on the best entry (Remember, this is subjective). The entry with the most ‘victories’ will advance to the next round until only one champion remains.
Link: For more details you can go here: http://www.michelle4laughs.blogspot.com/2013/04/announcing-query-kombat-contest-and.html