Home » General » Thoughts from a PitchMadness Reader

Thoughts from a PitchMadness Reader

This past week I got to participate in my first contest, #PitchMadness, behind the scenes. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, as anyone who follows me on twitter can tell. Let’s just say, I’ve been a bit “chatty” in my excitement.

I got the privilege of reading many wonderful entries, of having many hopeful authors hang their dreams on what several readers would pick out of the slush.

To all the entrants: thank you. I know how hard it is to share your babies. I know the excitement and nerves from participating in a contest. I wish you all the best of luck and hope you have at least learned a few things and made a few friends.

The first thing I noticed when going through the submissions, was the ones that jumped out at me were not what I expected. I thought I’d have to work hard to embrace all categories and genres equally. I didn’t. Entries from across the board grabbed my attention. They made me want to read more, regardless of if this was the type of book I would normally pick up. What was true amongst these stellar entries was voice and concept. Both made me sit up in my seat and squeal in delight.

Many entries were good. Some are ready and won’t make it through in the contest. That’s the nature of the beast. We can’t choose all the entries, and ultimately we’re trying to match what the participating agents are looking for. Others need some work and we all hope you’ll get some new readers and try for some of the mentor contests coming up (I’ll be a NA Team Lead mentor in #FicFest this April).

A few things I noticed:

  • Lots of diverse entries! This makes me so, so, very happy.
  • A lot of dark, demon stories.
  • Some pitches didn’t really tell the reader about the plot. Pitches are hard, so very hard, I get it. But they need to sell the novel.
  • When the pitch and 250 words had the same voice, the whole entry sang!
  • Some entries I had no idea what the name was of the main character.
  • Other entries I had no idea how to pronounce the main character’s name.
  • Some entries involved a subject I have skill and knowledge on and I couldn’t help but wonder how the author handled the subject area. Make sure you do your homework!
  • Some entries I wanted to see a few more pages, because they don’t appear to start in the right place.
  • Some entries had an entire section in under 250 words, before getting into the story.
  • I found one that I wanted to mentor so, so badly, and I really hope this author goes for one of the mentor contests.
  • Check your word count! So many were on the high side, to the point where this will hurt your chances. Trimming will only strengthen your novel.
  • Have a question? Best not to have one in your pitches.

Being behind the scenes is a lot of fun, but a lot of work! I spent HOURS reading, taking over three entire days, plus some, pushing off my own edits. I’ll do this again, in a heartbeat. But right now, I think I’ll take a nap.



13 thoughts on “Thoughts from a PitchMadness Reader

  1. Good thoughts 🙂 It was kind of an accident that I subbed to PitchMadness (I’m 13 hours ahead of EST, woke up and saw the window was open and in a half dazed state entered), and though I don’t believe I made it in, I’m glad I entered. It got me back into revising my novel and brought back my desire to find an agent and publish this book traditionally.

    Maybe one day I’ll be on the other end of a contest 🙂

    Thank you for all your work!

  2. Thanks for sharing – this has been a great experience and regardless of the outcome, it got me very focused, I learned a lot, and I made some new friends. I appreciate the time, knowledge shared, and effort that you and everyone “behind the scenes” put into this!

    • Yay! You’ve already “won.” I learned so much from contests, even or perhaps especially those I never made it through. And the new friends are one of the best parts!

  3. I didn’t make the cut, but I’d like to thank you for all your hours, anyway. I’m sure 60 other authors are grateful for your devotion! Volunteers like you make the world go round!

  4. Didn’t make it in last year. Seriously disappointed…for a day. Got motivated. Edited my butt off, changed scenes, eliminated whole characters and plotlines. And when finished, the novel was better for it. Made it in this year. Can only imagine how much better it will be before a final edit under professional hands.

    Long story short—the only way to lose in these contests is to refuse to grow.

    • Yes! Yes! You’ve got it! I didn’t even enter last year, wasn’t ready, and that novel comes out in June. Sometimes you just have to work hard and wait for the stars to align. I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed for you!

    • If it makes you feel any better, I did get in to Pitch Madness last year, got a couple of requests from agents (who ultimately turned it down.) Wrote a different novel, didn’t get in to Pitch Madness this year, and just now got my first R&R from an agent I’d submitted this MS to before entering this year’s Pitch Madness. Like Laura said, you just have to wait for your stars to align 🙂

  5. Even though I didn’t make the cut this time, I wish all the best to those who did. And thank you for reading, and for saying how much you enjoyed seeing diversity in a lot submissions (mine fell into that category and is something I’m very passionate about.)

      • Thanks for the best wishes, Laura! It was actually the second contest I’ve entered with this MS, and the second time the MS was turned down. But like I commented above to someone else, I’ve already received a R&R from an agent I highly admire, who said she “loves” the premise, in spite of not making the cut for any contests. Funny how things work out sometimes, huh? (But I’m also a librarian, so I know reader’s tastes are completely subjective, so I don’t take offense to any rejections.) 😉

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