Thoughts on pitching contests

I’ve got a new-found respect for agents.

Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while know that I highly rate pitching contests. They are a great way to hone your pitch, query or first pages. And, just as great, you can get in touch with what I’ve discovered to be a supportive community of fellow writers, many of whom have great advice to offer or are just happy to be a cheer squad. I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for Pitch Wars (if you want to know why, I blogged about it here).

PitcharamaButton (3)And if you’ve been reading my blog for only a little while you’ll know that Aussie Owned and Read has been hosting its first pitching contest, where people can submit a 250 word blurb for their young adult or new adult manuscript. In the first round, the eight bloggers at Aussie Owned choose their favourites to progress to the final round. That is where we have eight small presses (nine editors) who will swing by to request the ones they’d like to see more of. (In the second round you can pitch your friends—that starts on 20 June so if you missed the first round it’s not too late!)

The first round closed last night and choosing three pitches from those that entered was SO HARD IT HURT MY BRAIN! Not in a bad way but in an “aaaah, I can’t choose” way! My original shortlist was 50 per cent of the total. I loved them all, and wanted to take them home with me. Like, really. I have a newfound respect for people like Brenda Drake and the writers who help her; she runs Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness. Our humble contest is only in its first year so we didn’t get nearly the number of entries she’d see in one of hers. (Not that I didn’t respect her before, but Oh. My. Gods!)

And that’s why I also have a newfound respect for agents. In a way they have it a bit easier than we did in choosing our pitches, because most of them request at least the first five pages, which gives them an idea of the voice and execution. But in another (much bigger) way, they have to read thousands upon thousands of queries a year. And they don’t even get paid for that part of their business, not until they choose a client and then sell their client’s work.

Wow. Just wow. You seriously have to love books, love stories and tales well told, to dedicate that amount of time to it. Because while all the pitches we saw were good, the same cannot be said for agents’ slush piles (or so I hear).

Agents, I doff my hat to you. Or I would if I was wearing one.

I doff my imaginary hat to you.

One more thing. If you’re reading this and you entered Pitcharama, I also wanted to say that, whether you’re one of my final choices or not, I respect the courage it takes to put yourself and your work out there. I know how stressful it is. Don’t give up.

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