#QueryKombat and #PitMad

As writers on Twitter like to say, I’m “deep in the query trenches.” I’ve been querying my paranormal mystery DONN’S HILL for a few months now, and have quickly learned that there’s more than one way to do it. Being the thorough person that I am, I’m using as many methods as I can.

In addition to the traditional slush pile, I’ve taken part in a few Twitter pitch events this year. These are tough. I’ve had to boil down what makes my book worth reading into 140 characters (less, really, because I have to leave room for the pitch event’s hashtags). If an agent likes a pitch, she favorites the tweet (for my non-Twitter friends: they click the little heart icon) and that’s an invitation to send a proper query to her inbox. Last week I participated in #PitMad, and if you’re curious, here are the pitches that I used:

Right now I’m a contestant in #QueryKombat (on team Writey McWriterface), which has been the most fun querying event I’ve gotten to participate in so far. In it, queries are paired up against each other and the contest’s judges pick a winner to move on to the next round until there is only one query left standing (like in sports championships…brackets, right?). I feel extremely lucky to have gotten in at all—there were 350 entries, and mine was one of only 64 to be selected. Round 1 ran from June 1 to June 4, and I was stunned and grateful to see that my entry beat out my opponent.

The best part of this round was getting feedback from judges and other contestants about my query and the first 250 words of my manuscript. Their critiques were eye-opening, and I took them to heart as I tore my query apart and revised it. Not only will this hopefully help me with the subsequent rounds of the contest, but I’m sure it will help me as I dive back into the query trenches.

Here is my original entry, and here is my revised version.

Next was the agent round, which was possibly the most torturous few days in recent memory because it’s conducted in secret. Agents comment on the queries that interest them, asking to see more, but I don’t get to find out who (if anyone) commented on my entry until I’m knocked out of the contest. Meanwhile, the contest hosts tweeted clues the entire time about what types of requests were coming in for what types of manuscripts, including “wild card” requests that can be viewed instantly, causing me to chew a hole in my lip and wear out the F5 button on my keyboard. Seeing if I got any requests will be a nice silver lining when (and dare I say if?) I’m eliminated…that is, if anyone requested. (Let’s not think about the fact that the host for my team tweeted that only 9 out of the 10 queries on our team got requests. Let’s just not think about that one lonely query that didn’t get any love and about how it’s almost certainly an adult query and mine is an adult query and…I need a brownie.)

After the great constructive feedback I received on my query, the best thing about this contest is the community. I’m making friends and finding tons of great authors to follow, because holy cow do I need to be able to read all these books the second they get published!

And aside from that, these contests and events are excellent ways to stop obsessing over my queries that are sitting in agents’ slush piles, or the full requests I’m waiting to hear back on. Between #QueryKombat, working on my 2nd novel, and my day job, I think I might survive this query process after all.