As I've mentioned in other posts, I'm currently doing the query rounds with my novel, Hellfire. (By the by, I've made some progress on that front - another few partial requests and 2 full requests since I last updated. Even the rejections I'm getting are becoming more personalised and detailed, which I'm taking as a positive and using as an opportunity to ease the way for future queries with those agents. Yes - bwahaha. ) What I've also been doing - and this is what has been keeping me so busy - is entering online query competitions.
So far I have found a few sites that run these contests - usually where a pitch and first 250 words or so of your completed manuscript are entered into a judging round before being posted for agents to bid on. It's very much a machine-gun approach to querying as there can be quite a few agents involved - which has its pros and cons...
- If your pitch and first part of your MS are as attention-grabbing and polished as they can be, this is a great time-saving way to query a number of agents who are looking for books in your genre (most contests I've found have been genre-limited to some extent).
- It can be a really good way to get feedback on your pitch and first however-many words, whether from the judging panel or comments from the public (if these are allowed).
- It can be a good way to query an agent who you may not otherwise get a chance to. Some agents take part in these competitions who are otherwise closed to unsolicited queries, or whose submission guidelines might be a little off-putting (my own experience of this was where an agent asked for a list of any agents I had previously queried... I mean, how is that ever going to do me any favours?)
- If your pitch/first bit aren't quite up to scratch, then you're eliminating a lot of agents you could potentially query once you have polished them to a high gleam. No, this may not be set-in-stone, as you could still query the agents from the contest again after revising your work... but don't you want to win them over the first time they read it?
- It's can feel very much like a public flogging if you get critical or negative comments, and it's unlikely that you will be allowed to make changes to your submission before the end of the contest - so it's up there for all to see for however long the contest runs.
- If you're as enthusiastic (read: obsessive) about these things as I am, then you'll be spending a lot of time stalking the site where your submission is posted, anxiously hitting 'refresh' to check for new comments. If, like me, you're not in a US time zone, this can lead to a few late nights!
- Entering these contests can be really nerve-wracking. Maybe this should also be a pro, though, because they are very exciting both to watch and take part in... hmm. I'll let you decide.
I'm currently taking part in Pitch Madness (check out #pitchmadness on twitter for more info), so am waiting to hear if my submission has made it past the 4 judges into the agent bidding round. Any and all crossed fingers are appreciated! I'll let you know how it goes.