One of the hardest parts of the writing process for me is finally submitting to agents. This entails crafting the dreaded query letter and subjecting oneself to the agony of rejection and waiting. For some lucky ones, query misery lasts a few days or months. For others, i's a much longer process, at least if the writer is pursuing traditional publishing, which I am.
One wonderful alternative to querying are online contests. Mind you, they won't let you off the hook of writing a query letter. In fact, in most of them, a query is essential. In most contests, the point is to submit a killer query or pitch or first page, or all three of them.
I've been on Twitter for a while, and every few months, I heard calls for #PitchMadness, #Pitchmass, #QueryKombat, and The Writer's Voice, among others. Every time I saw them, I vowed to inform myself a little better for the next time I had the chance to enter.
Well, I found out The Writer's Voice had a entry date on late April, and I put it on my calendar with various reminders. I entered. I have to say, I didn't escape the agony I had experienced with querying because, you see? There were almost two hundred entries for this contest, and only 32 spots for the agent round. Four coaches would pick their team of eight writers who had submitted their query and first page.
To my utter surprise, I made it into the rafflecopter pre-selection that trimmed the entries down to one-hundred and fifty. The day the coaches were announcing their teams--by commenting on the entrants' blogs--I was a nervous wreck. That night at nine, I had prepared myself not to make it to the next round. To my surprise, I made it! Elizabeth Briggs and Krista Van Dolzer chose me to be part of #TeamRockstar. They helped me hone my query and first page, and on the day of the contest, I ended up with three full manuscript requests. More importantly, I met a lot of wonderful people, from my team and the other teams, who cheered me on and inspired me with their own stories.
Right now, #QueryKombat is taking place, and honestly, even if I don't make it to the next round, I've already learned so much from the querying process! I have a better query right now and I'm more confident with my first chapter. And again, I found a wonderful community online that makes me feel less alone during this difficult times of waiting and waiting and more waiting.
Brenda Drake hosts several contests every year. I also participated of The Writer's Digest Middle Grade First Chapter Contest and #YAHugs, of which I also was a finalist. The common denominator in all of these contests has been the support of fellow writers and agents.
Here's the link to a success story from a contest. I invite you to jump into Twitter and take part of the opportunity these contests offer. For some, I've had to tweet my pitch in no more than 140 characters. And guess what? After much trying and experimenting, I was able to, and I also secured a full request this way.
If you are on Twitter, look me up. My handle is @YamileSMendez and I tweet about books (of course), diversity in books, and now with the upcoming World Cup, I'll be tweeting a lot about soccer. Now it's your turn: tell me, have had any experience with online contests? Share it with us!