Contest Fatigue and When Enough is Enough

Had I known just how draining September would turn out to be, I would have tried a little harder with my whole writer’s vacation in August. Sigh.

September has turned out to be pitch contest galore time. I’m a big fan of pitch contests because I kinda feel like it gives your query a little extra “oomph” when you send it in, because the agent has requested that you send it. That doesn’t mean they’ll like it, but hey, it’s a step up from a blind query.

So I decided to participate in three of them: Pitch Madness, co-hosted by Brenda Drake and Shelly Watters, Gearing Up To Get An Agent, hosted by Deana Barnhart, and Come And Get It, hosted by Cupid’s Literary Connection. All three contests have (or had) multiple agents looking at pitches and queries, some of which overlapped. It was like, so made of win.

And let’s not forget Authoress Anonymous’s Secret Agent contest for this month. The agent’s already been announced: Victoria Marini. This month’s specifics haven’t been posted yet, but details for how Secret Agent works is here.

My entry in Pitch Madness didn’t make it past the slush readers, so I participated in the After the Madness Twitter Pitch party. Over the course of the work day yesterday, writers pitched their books at whatever agent happened to be accepting queries in their genre that were on Twitter at the time. Agents who hadn’t been a part of the original paintball war that was Pitch Madness joined in, like Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon and Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann agency. At one point, five of the seven agents at the Corvisiero Agency were on Twitter, favoriting and commenting on pitches. Two of those agents are participating in GUTGAA as well, and one of them had participated in Pitch Madness, coming away with the most number of requests-she annihilated the other agents. It was a lot of fun to see all these agents just totally getting into it, jumping on and saying, hey, can I participate, too? Although I don’t envy Brenda and Shelly, the hosts: they were glued to their Twitter streams for much of the day. Ugh.

But this, combined with all the prep I’ve been doing over the last few months for other pitch contests and writing contests (Shadowdemon was named a finalist in the FF & P’s On The Far Side contest! See my sparkly badge to the right!) my brain is going numb.

I’ve crammed so much into the last two months, I wouldn’t be surprised if after the last pitch contest (Authoress Anonymous’s Baker’s Dozen 2012, first window opens at the end of the month) I abandon querying and editing for the rest of the year.

And that kind of brings up another point. I was e-versing (having an email conversation, I just made up that term, think it’ll catch on? Like “fetch”? Yeah. Probably not) with another writer friend about the frustrations of querying and querying and querying and not getting any nibbles. At what point do you put it aside and move on?

It’s hard to figure out. You hear many, many stories about the large number of rejections writers go through before landing an agent. But are those all for the same story, or at some point did the author put the first manuscript aside and send out a new one? It’s safe to assume you’ll probably end up re-querying some of the agents on your list. How do you do that?

For me, I haven’t quite reached that point yet. My first bout of querying for Shadowdemon was short, less than fifteen agents. Part of this is because I haven’t done a whole lot of research on agents. But part of it is because of what I’ve seen regarding the genre of urban fantasy. By most counts, it’s too short for one of the Big Six to consider. It’s likely this is what caused most of those agents to pass on it in the first place. At least, I’m hoping that’s what the cause was. There was probably a strong dash of market saturation in there as well. So I decided to go the direct submit route. If I get turned down by the handful of small presses I’ve chosen, I’ll either a) do another round of querying or b) put it aside. I haven’t decided yet. I’m hoping I won’t have to.

In the meantime, I’m polishing my query for GUTGAA and hoping my query makes it to the agent round for CAGI. Looking for contests? Brenda Drake hosts them on a regular basis, as do Cupid’s Literary Connection and Authoress Anonymous. You can follow their blogs, or follow them on Twitter. I recommend Twitter-all three of those blogs are run by Blogger, and there’s a one day delay on emails if you subscribe, meaning if there’s last minute changes you need to know, you might be too late.

(Pssst! There’s still time to enter the Agent Pitch Contest of GUTGAA! Query submission windows are today, open to the first 100 queries per window (200 total), at 11am EDT and 4pm EDT. You MUST be signed up on the master linky list to be eligible, otherwise your query will be disqualified.)

Happy querying!

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