A few of my favorite writing contests

After recently participating in the (good) craziness that is PitchMadness, I’ve decided that I am officially a fan of online agent contests.

Not, of course, that I’ve actually netted an agent yet (hence continued participation in these contests!). But I do think that they are a great way to get a sense for some of the other writing that’s out there (my first contest, I was shocked by how *good* some of the stuff was), figure out a good way to pitch your own work, get over your fear of putting your work “out there” (twitter pitching, for me, is intimidatingly public), and connect with other writers. They can also be a good way to attract agents who might not otherwise have considered your work.

Here are just a few of the online contests that I know of that I think are worth considering if you’re hunting for an agent:

Monthly Contests

  • Operation Awesome’s Mystery Agent Contests: the first of each month, Operation Awesome Hosts a contest where a mystery agent (identity revealed when the contest is over) picks their favorite of that month’s entry. April’s contest is the 1st (today!), so head on over if you’re interested. The entry requirements vary by agent, but this month it’s looking like dark YA and MG.
  • Mother.Write.Repeat hosts a monthly contest, called “The Agents Inbox,” where writers submit queries and the first pages of their novel and the agent critiques each one before choosing a winner. A great opportunity to get agent feedback.
  • Miss Snark’s First Victim also hosts a monthly secret agent contest. MSFV invites all those who enter to comment on other people’s entries–I know Tasha, Elaine and I have all participated and had some good feedback this way. MSFV was one of the first contests I actually won–even though that partial request turned into a “no” it was a good confidence boost for me.

Annual or Semi-Annual Contests

  • Miss Snark’s First Victim also hosts an awesome contest each December, The Baker’s Dozen. Authoress and her minions go through all the entries and select those that they think will have the most agent appeal, so just entering isn’t always a guarantee that you’ll get in. It does also cost money to enter, but I entered without getting in and still felt like it was worth it for the chance. My favorite part about this particular contest is the chance to watch the agents try to outbid each other–not only does it give you a great sense of what particular agents are looking for, but some of the trash talk is hilarious.
  • Mother.Write.Repeat, along with LoveYA, Cupid’s Literary Connection and Brenda Drake hosted “The Writer’s Voice” last May, and they’re doing it again this year. For this contest, each of the sponsoring blogs chooses a “team” of strong writing entries and compete for agent attention. One of the cool things about this contest was that even those who weren’t chosen had an opportunity to have their submission posted on a blog and get feedback from other entrants.
  • Brenda Drake (along with her minions and slush zombies) also put together the massive endeavor that was PitchMadness. Here again writers submit a pitch and their first 250, then the contest coordinators chose 64 to vie for agent attention. I lucked out this time with a full request (!) and some partials, so I’m definitely glad I entered. I don’t know when the next one will be, but if you follow @brendadrake, I’m sure you’ll get the details on the others.
  • PitchMas, hosted by @JessaRusso and @FeakySnucker, is a twice-yearly contest (in July and December), where writers submit pitches, which agents then comb through and make requests.

Twitter Pitch Parties

  • Both PitchMadness and PitchMas have been followed up by a twitter pitch party (#PitMad and #PitchMas) where you post your 140 twitter pitch for your novel and interested agents are invited to check out the hash tag. I haven’t personally had much luck with twitter pitches, but some writers have–if nothing else, writing a twitter pitch forces you to clarify the focus of your novel!

What other online contests have you participated in? What good ones am I missing here?