The Right Contest for You and Your Manuscript

Maria Frazer This post was written by Maria Frazer.

Every month, Sub It Club features a list of upcoming contests for writers. In fact, that’s how I found out about Sub It Club in the first place. There are different kinds of contests and it’s up to you to determine which ones might be best for you. Let’s talk about a few different types of contests, and which types of manuscripts might be a good fit for certain contests.

Twitter Pitch Contests

Twitter pitch contests, such as PitMad, DVPit, and PBPitch, are a chance for authors to write a tweet about their work, and agents and editors scroll through the hashtag to request manuscripts that they might be interested in.

You must have a public twitter account and know how to use it to take part in a twitter pitch day! If your account is on private, only your followers will be able to view your tweets. Chances are not every participating agent is one of your twitter followers. If you have a private or locked twitter account, unlock your profile while participating in twitter contests so that agents and editors can see your pitch.

A tweet only allows for 140 characters, and some of them will need to be saved for the contest hashtag and the genre. That’s not a lot of real estate to describe your awesome manuscript. That’s why pitches with interesting stakes or great comparative titles tend to do well in twitter contests.

Imagine if The Selection by Kiera Cass was in a pitch contest.

HUNGER GAMES + The Bachelor: America leaves her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown (and a guy) she doesn’t want. #pitmad #YA #F 

That was 140 characters total, and we know what this book is about right away from the comps. We also know that it’s a young adult fantasy novel because of the hashtags. If you have a manuscript that you can communicate to the world in 140 characters or less, a twitter pitch contest might be a good match.

Mentorship Contests

If you have been querying for a while and have been receiving full requests but not offers, a mentorship contest could be up your alley. You can enter with a manuscript you’ve already queried, or with something new. The idea is you’ve done everything in your power to make it the best it can be, and you’re looking for a way to take your work to the next level.

A contest like Pitch Wars pairs querying writers with authors who are a couple steps ahead in the process. These contests focus more on craft, revision, and really making your manuscript the best it can be.

This type of contest is good if you’re ready to work hard and make improvements on your manuscript. Also, while some of these contests, like Pitch Wars, have an agent round, it’s not their main focus. Some mentorship contests do have a blog contest component attached, while others focus entirely on the revisions. So if you’re not interested in displaying your work online, a mentorship contest may be the one for you.

Blog Contests

A blog contest is what it sounds like: the contest organizer posts work from the participants on their blog.  Typically it’s going to be a description (either in the form of a query letter or a pitch) as well as a small writing sample (like the first page). Then participating agents will peruse the posts.

If you have a great query letter (which I’m sure you do, thanks to the Sub It Club support group 😉 ), compelling concept, or a voice-y or intriguing first page, a blog contest might be the way to go. There are many different types of blog contests, for all age categories and genres, so be on the lookout ones would be a good fit for you and your work.

Don’t feel there are contests that are a match? That’s okay! You can always submit your work the old fashioned way and query directly. Contests are just a fun way to break up all that submitting and try something new.

Have you ever entered a contest? Which contest type is your favorite? Any additional advice for people who are determining what kind of contest would be a good fit for them? 

3 thoughts on “The Right Contest for You and Your Manuscript

Add yours

  1. I entered a contest 3 years ago, on a blog called Books Around the Table, and won a beautiful painting! The contest was to write a fairy tale in 150 words to go with the painting. The artist, Julie Paschkis, lives in Seattle, and so do two of my kids, so on one of my visits there I got to meet her and see her studio! She is lovely.


  2. My first Twitter Pitch contest got me both a publishing contract for my debut picture book and later an agent. My second Twitter Pitch contest for my YA fantasy novel got me an offer for publication from a publisher and a request for a full manuscript from an agency. I’ve also participated in mentorship programs. Writers have a variety of ways to get their manuscripts in front of the right people. You never know when the stars will align in just the right path…;~)


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