I’ve seen Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness scramble across my Twitter timeline for several years now, as all the writers I follow explode with the excitement of the contest. Of course, I either 1) didn’t have anything ready, or 2) missed the submission window just barely. (Drat!)
But this year I had a manuscript! Hell, I had a query and a synopsis. And several agents to whom I’d intended to submit anyway were participating. If anything, it felt like everything in the universe was pushing me toward entering Pitch Madness.
So I did. I wrote a pitch, grabbed the first 250 words of my manuscript, and entered the contest near the end of the submission period.
And during the draft pick on March 1, I, like more than 800 other people, didn’t get in.
Logically, I knew it was a long shot. It depended on the quality of the other submissions (undoubtedly high) and what the individual readers preferred. Not to mention I hadn’t really expected to get in in the first place. But it still surprised me how much it sucked not to see my title drawn.
You’d think I’d be used to it. Like most writers, my rejections outweigh my successes by far. But it still stings every time, sometimes worse than others. There’s a litany of “What did I do wrong?” that kind of beats its way through your head.
Would the outcome have been different if you’d changed the wording in your pitch? Should you have rewritten the first chapter? Would a different viewpoint have helped? Or was it just the pure subjectivity of the decision process? Was there anything you could have done?
And the hell of it is, you’ll probably never know.
So am I glad I did it? Yes and no. I’m always glad when I do something that involves submitting my work somewhere, because it means I’m getting off my butt and doing something. Yes, writing and editing and revising and researching are all vital parts of the process, but if your goal is to get published? Then at some point, you need to actually submit.
That being said, contests are only one form of submitting. And if you’re only submitting to contests, then you’re probably missing out on a lot of opportunities to get your work in front of someone. To be honest, I probably need to look less at contests and more at querying right now. Because with contests? I have a chance of getting my story in front of agents. With querying? I know I’ll get my story in front of them.
Whether you’re submitting to contests or sending out queries, the important thing to remember is not to let rejection get you down. At least, not permanently. Yeah, I might be bummed today, but I’m just going to let that spur me into getting this thing ready to query. Because if you’re not getting rejected, then you’re not putting yourself out there. And that means you’re not going to get accepted, either.
It’s a risk, but it’s always worth it, every time.
For those of you who have a manuscript ready but didn’t make it into Pitch Madness, there will be a #PitMad Twitter pitch party on March 11 from 8AM – 8PM EDT. You have 140 characters (including the hashtag) to entice an agent to read your story. Can’t hurt, right? 🙂
Coffee mug picture by Tilemahos on Flickr