I recently participated in Pitch Slam. In the past year I’ve also made some ninja requests on Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness. The contests have actually become a major part of what I do for the agency, so I thought I’d reflect on them.
Every time I look at the entries for these contests I feel like a kid in a candy shop. There are so many good options to choose from. It’s actually a little painful to go back to reading regular inbox slush after, because the contest stuff is so much better. Not that I don’t find good stuff in the slush, but that’s like trying to find a diamond in the rough. Contests are like trying to find a diamond in Tiffany’s.
That said, I can’t request everything I want. Hypothetically I could, but I wouldn’t have time to read it all. In all three contests, I’ve actually probably requested more than I should.
There are a lot of things that influence what I request and what I don’t. First, I’m not actually an agent, so I’m trying to keep in mind my agent’s tastes and wish list. The number of other agents in the contest also affects my choices. Fewer agents means less competition, so I usually request more rather than focusing in on the projects I desperately need. Whether or not I think I’ll have other interns reading stuff I pull also influences how many I take.
Contests like these are sort of a double edge sword. Yes, they will draw agent attention because it is the Tiffany’s of manuscripts. However, it means that instead of your pitch standing out from regular slush, it has to compete against other superstar pitches for attention. That’s why contests like these seem to favor high concept, big idea type books. Quieter books have a harder time competing even if the writing is good.
Almost every entry I look at, I think, “I would probably request pages of that if it came through my inbox.” Or even if it’s something I think is not for me, I always think it could be right for somebody else. The entries are just that good.
One final point, I’m always happy when good books find a home. I get warm fuzzies every time I see somebody has signed with an agent, even if it’s not with our agency. Because I want everyone’s dreams to come true. Also, I just want to be friends with all the writing contest people.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the recent contests I’ve been part of. Excited for the upcoming contests!