Posts Tagged ‘#QueryKombat’

My Annual Pitch Contest Calendar now has a permanent home!
See the menu at the top of the page.

contest

Okay, kids – get your Twitter pitches, 35-word pitches, queries, and first 250 words shined up and ready.  Here’s a breakdown of the pitch contests coming up in 2017.

If you’re new to the concept, these are contests for authors with complete, polished manuscripts who are seeking representation by an agent and/or an editor.  These contests are fierce and popular, and the competition is strong and numerous.  But there are several advantages to entering:

1) Putting yourself out there. If you’re new to querying and not sure how to begin, or nervous about exposing your work to strangers, this is a good way to dip your toe in the raging whitewaters of the publishing world.

2) Getting feedback on your presentation.  Theses contests are all about those fiddly bits you use as bait to lure an agent or editor.  It is assumed your book is already finished, edited, beta’d, revised, and polished. You know – what you thought was the hard part. What you may not have as thoroughly vetted and sparkly are your query (including your all-important 35-word pitch) and the first 250 words (roughly the first page) of your manuscript.  These will make or break your first impression.  Even the perfect agent who was born to fall in love with your manuscript will never read it if you don’t hook her with your query and the first page of your manuscript.  Most of these contests have built-in feedback rounds or swarms of freelance editors offering free advice to contestants.

3) Networking with other writers, agents and editors in your genre.  Even if you don’t “win” (I’ve been doing this for a year, and I never have – and neither have most published authors), you will meet other contestants and judges, as well as participating editors and agents.  Most of these contests exist in the Twittersphere (or at least have a corresponding hashtag where those who have enetered can commiserate while they wait for the results).  Follow these hastags and be part of the running conversations.  You will meet other writers with books similar to yours, querying in the same genres.  You will meet agents looking for books like yours in your genre.  You will meet the judges, who are often fellow writers and past contest winners.  You are bound to make new friends and valuable contacts.

One last thing before I get to the list: In case you don’t know what a Twitter Pitch Party is, it is an event – usually lasting 12 hours – where you are invited to pitch your manuscript right on Twitter using a specific hashtag plus one for your book’s genre. Agents are well aware of these contests, and follow them eagerly. If they like a pitch they will favorite it, and that is your invitation to send them a query.  #PitMad is the most well-known and popular of these (and it happens four times a year).  So, to be clear, you must pitch your book using only a total of 140 characters INCLUDING “#PitMad” (or whatever) and one or more category/genre tags:

  • #PB = Picture Book
  • #CB = Chapter Book
  • #ER = Early Reader
  • #MG = Middle Grade
  • #YA = Young Adult
  • #NA = New Adult
  • #A = Adult
  • #SFF = Science Fiction / Fantasy
  • #UF = Urban Fantasy
  • #CF = Contemporary Fantasy
  • #HistFic/#HistFan = Historical Fiction / Historical Fantasy
  • #R = Romance
  • #Myst = Mystery
  • #WF = Women’s Fiction
  • #NF = Non-fiction
  • #Mem = Memoir
  • #LF = Literary Fiction

It is important that you read and follow the rules for these, and practice good contest etiquette: Usually only pitch twice per hour, never favorite another writer’s pitch (that is how agents request queries!), etc.

So, without further ado, here is the 2017 calendar of pitch contests.  Some of these have not been officially announced as of this posting, but I will update this post as more information (and more contests) are announced.  Good luck!

January 23: Sun vs. Snow
Character question + query + first 250 words of your manuscript. Open to the first 200 entries received (in 2016 this took 4 minutes!). 16 entries chosen for each team (Sun and Snow). Teams work with authors to polish their entries before posting for the Agent Round. Open to MG, YA, NA and A (including erotica).
Details: https://chasingthecrazies.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/2017-sun-vs-snow-details/

February 13: Son of a Pitch
Query + first 250 words of your manuscript. First week open to all for feedback. Then the top 50 entries go on to week 2, to be whittled down to the final 20. Agents and editors will make requests from the finalists.Open to YA, NA and A of all genres.
Details: http://kjhstories.blogspot.com/2017/01/say-what-son-of-pitch-is-back.html

February 23: #PBPitch
Twitter Pitch Party – Picture Books only
Details: www.pbpitch.com

February 24: Pitch Madness
Pitch Madness is a contest held every March, where writers enter for a chance to win requests from the participating agents. Writers submit a 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of their completed manuscript on submission day. Then a team of readers choose the top sixty (60) entries to go onto the agent round. Though Pitch Madness has a game theme, the next contest will transition to more of a critique based contest with agents simply requesting in the comments of the entries’ posts instead of having the agents play for requests. Also, hosts will coach our team members, helping them polish their entries and first pages.
Details: www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-madness/

March 6: #SonofaPitch
Twitter pitch party. Include #SonofsPitch, genre and age category; 1 tweet per hour.
Details: http://kjhstories.blogspot.com/2017/01/say-what-son-of-pitch-is-back.html

March 23: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party. 8am to 8pm EST; only 3 tweets allowed per project.
Details (not yet updated for 2017): www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/   also: http://www.brenda-drake.com/contest-schedule/

April 5: #AdPit
Twitter Pitch Party – Adult books only
Details: https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/adpit-and-kidpit/

April 5: #KidPit
Twitter Pitch Party – Children’s books only (Picture Books, Early Readers, Chapter Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult)
Details: https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/kidpit/

April 7 (TBD): Pitch to Publication (#P2P17)
“Pitch to Publication is for writers with FULLY COMPLETED manuscripts, who are ready to achieve the next level of literary wholeness. Authors will submit a query and 5 pages of their draft manuscript to one of our highly sought-after freelance editors. Each editor will select one (and sometimes two!) authors to work with for 5 weeks of intensive manuscript development. Your editor will help prepare you and your work for our agent round on May 22nd!” Editors will be announced March 13-20. This contest has been postponed; new dates not yet announced.
Details: http://pitch2pub.com/node/6

April 7: Revise & Resub (#RevPit)
“In this contest, authors will be eligible to receive feedback and full edits on their manuscript from professional editors, ensuring their works are polished and ready for those agent inboxes. Writers will submit their query and first five pages to their top three editors and one alternate, who will then go through submissions and select one (or two!) winners. These matches will go through an intense, month-long editing process before reposting their submissions from finalized projects.” Details: http://www.reviseresubmit.com

Mid-May (TBD): QueryKombat
64 kombatants in a single-elimination tournament style query-off. Entries will go head-to-head in six rounds until only one entry remains. Agents look at winners of each elimination.
Details (not yet updated for 2017): http://scwrite.blogspot.com/2015/04/announcing-query-kombat-2015.html

June TBD: #SFFPit
Twitter Pitch Party for Si-Fi and Fantasy books ONLY, for all age groups.
Details: http://dankoboldt.com/sffpit/

June 8: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party. 8am to 8pm EST; only 3 tweets allowed per project.
Details (not yet updated for 2017): www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-madness   also: http://www.brenda-drake.com/contest-schedule/

August 2-6: Pitch Wars
Published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents over a 2-month period.
Details (not yet updated for 2017): www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-wars  also: http://www.brenda-drake.com/contest-schedule/

September 7: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party. 8am to 8pm EST; only 3 tweets allowed per project.
Details (not yet updated for 2017): www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/   also: http://www.brenda-drake.com/contest-schedule/

December 7: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party. 8am to 8pm EST; only 3 tweets allowed per project.
Details (not yet updated for 2017): www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/   also: http://www.brenda-drake.com/contest-schedule/

THIS IS BY NO MEANS A COMPLETE LIST. MANY CONTEST HOSTS HAVE NOT YET COMMITTED TO OR ANNOUNCED THEIR 2017 SCHEDULES. CHECK BACK OFTEN!

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My daughter and I enter our manuscript (query, pitch, first page, etc.) into a lot of contests. We haven’t “won” any yet.

So why do we keep pounding our head against that wall?

Well, it’s like this.  There are hundreds of good resources readily at hand for how to write your novel: classes — both online and in person — critique groups, how-to books, YouTube lectures, writers’ blogs, your mother, etc., etc. If you are serious, you can thoroughly teach yourself all of the aspects of novel writing, from plot to dialogue to pacing to character development to building tension, and every other particle of minutiae you can think of. You can surround yourself with other writers who can share their experience, collect beta reader who can tell you what’s wrong with your WIP, and hire editors who can help you fix it. Plus, there are like a million books out there you can read as examples of what works.

But what about finding an agent?

<crickets>

Sure, a lot of people are willing to give you advice. Some of them have even found an agent themselves. But mostly their advice is pretty vague. “Make sure your query has voice, but not too much voice.” “In one paragraph describe your entire book, but leave out everything that isn’t essential.” “Include Character, Conflict, Stakes, and Consequences.” “Don’t waste a single word.”

Okay, fantastic. But how?  Maybe there are some examples of successful query letters. Great. But they aren’t about your book. How do you craft the irresistible query for your book? Where’s that class?

There are actually editors out there who provide query feedback for a fee.  But that can get expensive, and what do you do if you pay and still get no results?

Here’s where the contests come in.  My daughter and I most recently entered #QueryKombat, and for the first time we made it into the first round. The actual contest itself is a series of elimination rounds based on voting by agented and published authors, alternating with opportunities for agents to request partials or fulls. What you’re supposedly vying for is agent exposure. The idea is that if you make it though several rounds, revising along the way, you haven been “vetted” and agents are much more likely to be interested.  You’re not actually winning representation or a publishing contract, although in theory your odds go up.

But the real benefit of such a contest is the feedback.  We were eliminated in the first round of #QueryKombat. Over three days the votes were 2-1 in our favor, then 2-2, 3-2 in our favor … then 3-6 against. It ended up 4-6. But each of those ten votes came with a detailed analysis of our query letter and our first page, pointing out both strengths and weaknesses.  In addition, participants were required to comment (but not vote) on at least six other entries.  So we actually ended up with closer to twenty detailed critiques of our query.

This is tremendously helpful. And I don’t know any other place where I could have gotten this kind of targeted feedback on my query.

So if your are querying yourself and unsure about how to craft that perfect query, look for the contests.  There are dozens every year (see my 2016 Pitch Contest Calender).  And the great thing is, you don’t have to “win” to win.

QK+Logo (1)

Last year, my daughter and I were just beginning to query our fresh, new manuscript (the toner was still warm), and one of the very first contests we ever entered was #QueryKombat.

We didn’t make it in.  Out of a few hundred hopefuls, only 64 get chosen to participate, and then half are eliminated right away. The contest pairs up queries and the first 250 words of similar manuscripts (same genre/age group, complimentary subject-matter). Then a panel of judges read each pairing and vote for their favorite.  The 32 who make it get an opportunity to revise based on the comments, and then these are paired up again for the next bracket.  And so on until there is a final winner, six rounds later.  Along the way, agents are invited to look at the entries and make requests.

I was philosophical about not getting in. The whole query thing still mystified me, and as much as I wished it to be so, our opening was not perfect.  We would revise it at least a half-dozen times before we got to where we are today.  And dozens of query variations.  And oh, so many contests.

Which brings us to today.

We entered #QueryKombat 2016 with a new query. In fact we’re trying it out in this way before we foist it on the unsuspecting Agent Community. Last week the roster was announced, and our entry had been chosen.  So we were in!  Our fist contest in which we actually made it past the entry stage.  So no matter what happens next, we will get some very valuable feedback from the judges and other participants on our query and first page.

Of course, we want to make it to the next round. And the next. And so on. We are certainly interested in the great exposure to agents, and the multiple opportunities to revise or query along the way. But for now, we’re just excited to have made it this far. It is a valuable and timely boost to our morale, and we won’t let it go to waste.

Please check out the contest; it is hosted over three separate blogs:

Michelle Hauck

Michael Anthony

Laura Heffernan

The code name for our entry is BATTLE ROYALE (it is on Michelle’s blog, and you have to click on “older posts” at the bottom of the first page to get to it).  PLEASE do not vote — that is reserved for the official judges. But comments are welcome. Constructive criticism is preferred over cheerleading, but comments are comments and the more the merrier.

If you are a writer in the querying trenches, these vetted queries and first pages are an invaluable glimpse into what works. Avail yourself of the opportunity to while it lasts.

And thanks in advance for your support.

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Okay, fellow pitchers: if you’re ready to pitch your manuscript (meaning it’s beta-tested and polished, and you’ve got your query letter and synopsis ready), here is a run-down of some contests you can enter in the coming weeks. These are necessarily the best way to get your work in front of an agent (as competition is FIERCE), but many successful writers found their agent match this way. More than anything, these give you an unparalleled opportunity to see your competition, see what’s working and what isn’t, and get some valuable feedback from slush readers and editors currently in the business.

MAY:

5/22 – QueryKombat 2015
This year’s Kompetition is open to Adult, NA, YA, MG, and Picture Books. Enter your title, genre word kount, query and the first 250+ words of your manuscript. There are over 2 dozen agents participating, as well as many editors and readers. This kompetition is run like a single-elimination, tournament. Entries paired up based on target audience and genre will go head-to-head, round after round, starting with 64 and ultimately ending with just 1. But agents will see all entries after the first elimination – so 32 entries will get seen by agents, then 16 of those in the next round, etc.

5/27 – #KidPit
This is Twitter pitch event, where you pitch your children’s manuscript on Twitter (140 characters or less) using the hashtag #KidPit plus your age group (#BB (Board Book), #PB (Picture Book), #ER (Early Reader), #CB (Chapter Book), #MG (Middle Grade), or #YA (Young Adult) and genre (#SFF (Sci-fi/Fantasy), #ROM (Romance), #FTR (Fairy tale retelling), #MYS (Mystery), #TT (Time Travel) and so on). You can pitch up to 2 times per hour, between 8am and 8pm EST.

JUNE:

6/4 – #PitMad
Like #KidPit, but for all genres and categories, using the hashtag #PitMad. This one also takes place between 8am and 8pm EST, and you can pitch up to twice an hour.

6/18 – #SFFPit
A Twitter pitch event for science fiction and fantasy (including all sub-genres), for Picture Books, Middle Grade, New Adult and Young Adult. Pitch your manuscript up to 2 times per hour (exact start and end times to be announced on Dan Koboldt’s blog).

6/24 – #PBPitch
Another Twitter pitch event, this time only for picture books. Pitch manuscripts only one time before 12 pm and one time after (no time zone specified). Subgenres hashtags can be included: #F=Funny, #CD = Character Driven, #NF = Nonfiction, #C= Concept, #L= Lyrical, #I= Interactive.

JULY:

7/1 – #70Pit
Despite the name, this is actually NOT a Twitter pitch event. In fact, you do not submit either your 35-word pitch, your query or nor first 250 words. For this event, you submit the 70th page of your novel. This is based on the “Page 69 Test,” which presumes that by page 69 things should really be happening, and this is often a better snapshot of your work that the first page. Different age categories will be submitted on different days over the course of a week, so each category gets equal attention.

7/3 – Pitch to Publication
The submission window is actually June 29 – July 3. Writers choose up to five freelance editors from the 20 or so participating. Each editor will pick three entries and work closely with the writer to polish their manuscript (in various stages) to get them ready for the Agent Round at the end of September. If manuscripts are chosen by agents for representation, there is a further round in October for submissions to publishers. Full details on Samantha Fountain’s blog.

AUGUST:

8/17 – Pitch Wars
Writers send in an application (query and first chapter) to the four mentors (published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns) that best fit their work. Each participating mentor will choose one manuscript and work with the writer over the next 2 months to get them ready for the agent round, where agents will make requests from the polished entries.