Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Wordcraft – Write and pitch: contests for the shortest month

DL Hammons’ WRiTE CLUB is officially back on for 2016. With nothing to lose and a nice prize awaiting the winner, the literary cage fight that pits our best 500 words against all comers is accepting entries until February 26.

And as if February isn’t short enough already for the spreading of our writerly wings, NaNoWriMo (it’s not just for November anymore) has unwrapped its Pitchapalooza contest. Give your book’s pitch your best 250 words and email it by 11:59 p.m. PST February 29 for a chance to win an introduction to an agent or publisher appropriate to your manuscript.

There’s no entry fee for either contest. The ultimate WRiTE CLUB winner receives a membership to the 2017 DFW Writers Conference (a $450 value) and will be announced at this year’s conference April 23-24. The first runner-up will receive a $75 Amazon gift card. Even those who aren’t winners will have a chance to receive critiques from the reading audience. The strict anonymity rule for writers guarantees an embarrassment-free atmosphere.

Here’s the basic information for WRiTE Club: send an anonymous 500-word writing sample, any style, any genre (including poetry). From the expected 200 entries, slush pile judges will select 30 competitors, who will be pitted against each other beginning March 7. The winner of the final round will be selected by a panel of publishing industry professionals and receive a critique of his/her work from several of those judges in addition to the conference membership prize.

Hammons loves for people to talk up the contest. However, remember not to solicit votes for any particular writer, which will get that person (and maybe you) knocked out of the ring.

Check Hammons’ site for the complete rules and how-to’s.


Here’s how Pitchapalooza works: Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry (aka The Book Doctors) team up with NaNoWriMo for an online critique of literary elevator pitches. Email your best elevator pitch (or maybe a little more – up to 250 words) to nanowrimo@thebookdoctors.com. Twenty-five pitches will be selected randomly, posted online March 14, and critiqued to demonstrate what it takes to have a great book pitch.

This contest actually has two winners, a judges’ selection who gets the agent/publisher introduction and a fan favorite who receives a one-hour consultation with The Book Doctors. (Anyone can vote for fan favorite, so here’s a chance to drum get that social media machine revved up!)

For contestants (or anyone) The Book Doctors offer some suggestions for making that pitch the greatest:

Make us fall in love with the hero and in hate with the villain. It’s like a movie trailer, not a book report. Start with an incredible close-up, pull back to show the big picture, tell us the themes, build to a climax and leave with a cliffhanger. Show why your project is unique and unexpected, and why it’s familiar and proven. Tell us your specific credentials and expertise, and make every word amaze.

Click here for full guidelines and email specifics. Don't forget to check out the rest of NaNoWriMo's post-November resources. And revel in the journey.

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