Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Novice Series: Cold Query vs. Twitter Contest

After completing my baby manuscript in September 2015, I knew I needed an agent if I wanted to break into the publishing industry. I officially began the querying process in October 2015 (with my not-so-polished-and-terribly-titled manuscript). The choice to start querying came accidentally.

The moment happened when I was casually twitter-stalking and stumbled upon Nightmare on Query Street.

For those of you who are unaware, NoQS is a writing contest that gives unpublished and unagented writers a chance to showcase their query and first 250 words in front of a panel of agents.

In my doe-eyed stupor, I entered. I already had my 250 (which, of course, was brilliant) and I didn't know what a query letter was, but I had 2 hours before the submission window opened. Two whole hours! How hard could it be?

My false sense of inflated ego.
After googling "What is a Query Letter?" and feeling pretty confident, I zoomed through it in 30 minutes, prepped my 250 and hit send.

Bam. Instant agent exposure.

With confidence brimming out of my eyeballs, I decided to also send out a batch of letters to agents. Coincidentally, PitchSlam, another contest, was open to submissions. I entered that too.

I couldn't believe my luck. All this excitement and forward momentum in one day!

Agent reaction to my terrible query.

Rejection was a cold and unforgiving friend that week and the 4 weeks that followed.

Since that embarrassing moment in my life, those 4 weeks forced me to question the process. Which method works better: traditional cold querying or entering Twitter contests?

For my fellow aspiring authors, this is tricky to answer. No doubt, success stories have sprung from both methods, but the answer lies within what is best for your baby manuscript.

Before entering any Twitter contest (or pitch contest), it's important to do your research. Not all contests are created equal and not all contests will be best for your manuscript. For example, I recently entered #FicFest and while I received requests and amazing reviews of TIME SLAVE, the most recurring comment was the mentors did not feel they could do justice to a sci-fi story.

Much like the process of researching agents before sending query letters, it's equally as important to research mentors, judges, slush readers and agents participating in Twitter contests before entering to give yourself your best chance. So fret not if you weren't chosen! Neither was I!

From my experiences in the Twitter-verse, I realized TIME SLAVE is not meant for Twitter contests and fairs much better the good ol' fashioned way of cold querying. While it's not nearly as fun as getting caught up in the excitement of a contest, it's the way that works for me.

So chin up, my writerly friends! Everyone's journey is different. We'll get there, together. One rejection at a time.

With love,


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