Twitter is a great resource for writers. Not only is it the perfect place to meet other writers, and follow publishers and literary agents, but there's lots of fun including special days of the week to post lines from your writing, pitch parties, and contests.
I've entered a few of the writing contests on Twitter, the most recent being Pitch Madness, hosted by author Brenda Drake, and made possible by the generous donation of time by editors and other writers/authors.
The contests on Twitter vary. Some take your manuscript as is, while others have you work with a mentor to improve your manuscript before the agent round. There are contests for query letters, different genres, and manuscripts. All are run by committed volunteers who are eager to help writers.
So far I haven't had much luck with the contests. Urban fantasy is a hard sell right now, so when the volunteers are sorting through submissions, they are also considering what sells, not just what they like. One important thing to remember when entering these contests is, like querying agents, it is subjective. Everyone has their preferences and the volunteers weigh what they like along with what they think will be successful. Like querying, it can be frustrating.
One bonus with contests is that querying doesn't have, is that you often meet some great people. Entering Pitch 2 Publication last year, I met a wonderful editor (Kate Angelella) who really connected with my manuscript (though she didn't choose it for the contest), and I decided to work with her. The contests are also a perfect place to meet other writers who could turn out to be your next beta readers, critique partners, or even friends.
Another bonus of the contests is feedback. Sometimes you get some personalized feedback, but more often tips that are tweeted as reader go through submissions are helpful. There's always fear that they are tweeting specifically about your submission when they point out an error, but most often it's a trend they are seeing in the submissions.
It's not easy to be chosen for these contests because of the number of entries they receive. Early numbers suggest that over 800 people entered this year's Pitch Madness. Only 60 of those entries will be chosen to go to the agent round.
It's easy to get discouraged.
These contests are not the end all and be all though. They are fun and useful for networking. People do get signed by agents or publishers through these contests, but it's not the only way.
If you entry isn't chosen, that doesn't mean it wasn't good. Again, subjectivity of the readers. It also doesn't mean that you won't get an agent. It just means that you need to keep querying. Despite the popularity of these contests, most authors are still discovered in an agent's slush pile. I've seen many writers share that they didn't make it into any of these contests but ended up signing with an agent.
If you are interested in investigating some of these contests, there's a list here.
Whatever you do, just keep on writing.
Have you entered any Twitter writing contests? What were your experiences?