Chances are if you have a completed manuscript ready to query you’ve at least heard about one of the many online contests available. Pitchmadness, Pitmas, Sun Vs. Snow, and our own PitchPlus1 are just a few that are out there. Hundreds of people can enter and do. So why should you?
1. You get some practice. Let’s face it, writing means discipline. Yes, we are self-motivated, but there are those days when other life calls, or maybe the Internet… The point is, if you have a deadline approaching you have added incentive to work. Really work. You know others will see it, and you know the submission window is only open so long, so what better reason to practice writing?
2. You see what else is out there. Sure you’ve written the best thing since HP? Positive your Dystopian is one of a kind? This let’s you see what else is being shopped right now at least by a handful of others (perspective). The books on the shelves right now were probably purchased around two years ago. What editors are buying presently won’t come out for at least a year and a half or so. What people are pitching now is the future.
3. You meet people. I asked our Pitch Plus One participants for feedback. One of the biggest common threads was connecting with other writers. It doesn’t surprise me, it’s also the main reason I love doing this! Just look at these quotes:
“I've met some wonderful writers and I love how supportive the writing community is and how helpful other writers can be. We really mean it when we "pay it forward" and that's awesome.” – Kathleen S. Allen.
“I've met so many others who are as determined as I am, and it's been a blast getting to know them.” –Rebecca Fields
4. Feedback. The obvious one, right? The feedback from others is invaluable to writers. A fresh set of eyes, that knows nothing about the manuscript can reveal so much, since that is exactly the situation an agent is going to be in when they see your query! And with these contests you have the opportunity to get feedback not only from other querying writers, but from published authors, bloggers, and even agents and editors! That’s a pretty amazing opportunity.
5. Empathy. You get it and the other participants get you. But I mean more than that. I mean you now have empathy for the agents and editors who read a never-ending slew of slushpile queries. Does it make you dizzy to think that over 500 people submitted to Pitch Madness? Just imagine that times forever. I loved this post from Eliza West, a contestant from Pitch Plus One, saying much the same thing. We are all in this together, folks. We all do it because we love the craft and we want good books to share with others. And you know what’s awesome about our profession? The more good books, the better!