In a month of crazy contests every week or so, I thought this was very timely! Please enjoy this wonderful guest post by Kat Ellis on query contest!
You’ve got your manuscript polished to a gleam, and maybe you’ve sent your query out to some agents. Maybe you’ve even been through a few online crit rounds to make sure your query and first couple of pages go off like rocket fuel. And then you see a link on twitter – Agent Judged Query Contest!
This is it. An agent line up that’s the stuff of dreams, all bidding on partials or fulls of the entries they like. You WILL rock this like a boss. They WILL be fighting for your manuscript, claws out and everything.
Of course, even though this happens, I’ve never known anyone enter thinking this will happen to them. Because there are tingly, squirmy nerves involved (the major downside to entering a query contest, in my experience). This probably means you will:
- stare for hours at the contest rules trying to fathom whether you may have misinterpreted them;
- sit with your finger poised to hit ‘send’ at the appointed second, even if it means waking up at4amto do so;
- chew your nails to nubs, then start looking for other things to gnaw like a rat
- manically hit ‘refresh’ either until the contest ends or your F5 key breaks.
These are unfortunate and inevitable truths. But they’re exciting too – especially when you start to see bids flying, and hopefully landing on your entry. Or your friends’ entries, if you’ve entered with some of your CPs (which makes it infinitely more fun, BTW). Just bear in mind that not all entries will get bids. Some will walk away feeling pretty dejected if they don’t get any interest from the agents. Likewise if there’s a ‘bouncer’ round and the entry doesn’t get picked to go through to be judged by the agents. *Cue sad violin music* Wait – stop that! There are SO MANY pros to these contests too!
- If you’re polished and ready to roll, entering a contest gets your work out there in sight of agents who are actively looking for new clients to sign.
- Agents who are otherwise closed to queries often take part in these contests.
- Some agents who aren’t officially part of the contest might see something they like and put in a sneaky request after the proceedings are over.
- Contests are essentially a shotgun approach to querying – hitting a big target in one shot. (This is only a ‘pro’ as long as your entry really is as polished as it needs to be. It can be pretty heartbreaking to have some well-meaning individual point out the fatal flaw in your query – in public – and have to graciously thank them and wait out the rest of the contest in quiet agony.)
- You could get a whole BUNCH of requests from a contest all at once, which is pretty much any querier’s dream.
- You can learn a heck of a lot from entering them. What works, what’s been done to death, what are the agents’ pet peeves (and how you can avoid these if you decide to query them after the contest – because you can absolutely do that.)
- You will meet lots of other writers in exactly the same position as you, who you can connect with and learn from and maybe even swap crits with. This was definitely one of the most important things I took away from the contests I entered – the amazing folks who have become my friends and who have encouraged and supported me through the query quagmire.
As far as I’m concerned, all these things far outweigh the slightly less sparkly side of contests bulleted up top. It’s just good to go into them armed – emotionally and querially (*made up word alert!*) – so you can get the absolute best experience out of them. And hopefully an agent too!
And I can’t end this without giving a shout out to Cupid’s LC and all the others who very generously organise these contests and make the connections happen – you ALL rock. Yes, like bosses.
Kat Ellis writes YA sci fi and fantasy, which has so far included: hot dragon boys, giant squid, drug abuse, robots, little people in trilby hats, winged aliens, shuttle crashes, kissiness, evil moths and malicious vomiting. You’ll usually find her up to no good on twitter, playing badminton like a ninja or watching scary films with her husband and feral cat. She is represented by Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency, and PURGE is her first novel.
Here are a few links to some contest blogs (can also use .com suffix with most):