Pitch Contest Lessons: Host Addition

Kadee Carder and I have just finished the final days of #PitProm. With three winners, Team Fantasy came out on top with two out of three Queens being from our court. I might be absurdly proud. The next few weeks will be interviews with the winner; however, today is a day of reflection.

I’ve learned more about editing, marketing, and publishing in the last few weeks than my year and some as a published author.

My respect for literary agents and editors has grown tenfold. Seriously, I spent one night reading 2000+ pages. They do that more days than not. While I’ve always hated the no response rejection, we decided not to do form letters. At first, I planned to possibly send a few sentences explaining why the manuscripts weren’t ready or the market wasn’t there, but 100+ queries later, time was nearly out, and I had another 100 or so to get through.

As this was the first year of the contest, we ran it like the newbies we are. With a fierce optimism and stubborn determination to fix every minor issue. Date conflicts came up. We accidentally forgot about Labor Day. Website access got switched around as Kadee designed everything (because she’s freaking amazing, that’s why), but when things got busy for her, I couldn’t access to approve comments. I might’ve gone a bit crazy in panic. But…if it wasn’t for this post, I’d like to believe nobody would know.

Most hurdles, we studied before leaping. However, there were some quick decisions about timing which I’d definitely rethink more carefully. Jobs, families, and a poorly timed dead transmission couldn’t stop us.

Things that might be different if we do this again?

  1. Different Season – we road the coattails of Pitch Wars. Good in some ways, but stressful thanks to the holiday weekend. I think May or June sounds easier,  but I don’t have school-age children.
  2. Announcements / Emails –  write and double-check (triple-check, quadruple-check) all emails and announcements months in advance.
  3. No Stats – I planned massive stats. I have a huge spreadsheet; however, I didn’t realize how controversial some aspects would be. I interned at a lit agency, helped out a publisher, and work at a book company…there are areas where I thought little debate existed where the issue is actually hugely polarizing.  Avoid at all costs. Plus, people get nervous. They think if they don’t fit the norm, we’ll hold it against them. To avoid stress for all of us, I wouldn’t bother with statistics (or the spreadsheet – so time consuming).
  4. Highlight the Mentors –  while our website features some lovely bios (thank you, Kadee), we didn’t brag about how awesome our mentors were on Twitter or other social media. We also didn’t trash talk nearly enough. We got pretty witty with GIFs at the end. Trash talking earlier.

All in all, we succeeded in our plans. People participated. Our mentors mentored. Our agents and editors came (albeit held up by holiday weekends and some timing issues) and made their requests.

If we do this next year, we know what works and doesn’t. Good luck to us.

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