Well, I survived my first #PitchMadness. It felt like years of sitting on my couch glued to my phone (because I'm still laptopless, that's right I said laptopless) waiting for results that came on the 10th. I didn't make it to the agent round, but I learned a lot from the various slush reader comments. I've decided to share with you what I've learned.
1.) Find A CP- find a critique partner. And Beta readers. Nothing can compare to honest and helpful feedback from someone willing to invest the time. So long as your willing to return the favor. I met some wonderful people as I discussed PitchMadness with other people who had entered. So many fun conversations!
2.) Get feedback on Pitch- This sort of goes hand in hand with finding a great CP, but definitely find someone who is willing to tell you, "hey this sounds boring. Spice it up."
3.) Work on something else- You've put your pitch in, what do you do now? Write something else. I'm serious. Start a new MS (manuscript) and focus on that. Check twitter, read the slush comments and add them to your WIP (work in progress). There were so many things I learned from the slush readers that I was able to apply to my finished works and current WIP's.
4.) Do your research- How many words should an Adult novel have? How about a YA? Middle Grade? There can be varying opinions on the subject, but take the time to research. Find your dream agents and publishing companies and see what their submission guidelines recommend. Ask an agent or editor on twitter, their blog, or any other place where you can talk to someone who knows. I actually called the editor from Shadow Mountain Publications and asked for her opinion on YA. There are resources.
Also research your genres. What's a genre, you ask? Ask yourself a few questions to figure that out. You know your book is YA, but where in YA does it fit? Is it a fantasy? How about an Urban Fantasy? Paranormal Romance? There are so many options out there. Read up and figure out where your ms belongs.
5.) Rid the world of filler words- This is something I learned recently and has been the most helpful. Get rid of filler like seemed, felt, would, could. Filler words seem to be connected with telling the reader what's going on instead of showing them, or that's how it seems to work for me. Take the time to write these words out and tighten your writing.
PitchMadness drove me crazy. I learned that a lot of writers inhale coffee. I don't drink coffee, but there seemed to be a lot of talk of living off of coffee. Slush readers offer invaluable information, some about coffee.
It also drove me crazy. Every slush reader comment, good or bad, felt like it pertained to my ms. It was difficult to tear myself away from the twitter feed, and focus on something else. I've made some great friends and learned about contests, this being my first. On 9/12 there will be a twitter pitch party. Brenda Drake has all the rules listed on her blog. Pitch your ms with the #PitMad attached and your genre if you can fit it, and wait to see if agents respond.
Finding out that I didn't make the agent round bummed me out. I sort of knew I wasn't going to make it. There is still a lot that I need to learn. I felt depressed until I talked to my CP, we pouted then cheered and vowed to rock #PitMad. This isn't the end. A minor setback, but not the end. So buck up, work on your 140 character pitch and look forward to #PitMad on the 12th. I'll be seeing you there!