There are multiple ways to make sure editors and agents see your manuscript, from cold querying to pitching online and in person to contests. The contests are in full swing with Pitch Wars decisions upon us. Up next is a two-year-old contest geared specifically for Latinx writers.
#PitchAmérica was created by Laura Pohl, a native Brazillian, to shine a light on manuscripts written by Latinx writers. #PitchAmérica opens on August 31st and the rules are up on the website.
Laura has graciously taken time out of her busy schedule to answer questions for those interested. The creator of #PitchAmérica, Laura is a writer herself. She is represented by Sarah LaPolla at Bradford Literary Agency. Laura writes Young Adult, specifically sci-fi and fantasy. She is a #PitchWars mentor and a #DVpit alum. She hates Mon-El on Supergirl (and let’s get real, who doesn’t), loves to travel, the owner off a very small, cute dachshund names Vina, and one of the best Critique Partners I could ask for.
Dana: Thank you for joining, Laura! Could you introduce yourself and Pitch América for readers who aren’t sure what the contest is.
Laura: Hi, I’m Laura Pohl, a YA fantasy and science fiction writer, and #PitchAmérica is a writing contest designed especially to bring Latinx voices to light in publishing.
Dana: How did you come up with the idea for Pitch América?
Laura: It was a little after the first DVPit event created by Beth Phelan. I’m Latina myself, and I miss finding voices like mine in the shelves today. I thought it’d be interesting to create a writing contest but focused especially on Latinx writers to fill that void in the market.
Dana: What is the biggest challenge running a contest?
Laura: Running the schedule, for sure! There are so many things I have to work around — inviting agents, compiling a list of agents, posting interviews on the blog. Then there’s the opening of the contest, where we receive a huge number of entries. And then, of course, reading them all within our timeline so we have our winners ready when the agent round comes.
Dana: Have you seen an increase in interest as Pitch América is in its second year?
Laura: I think so! First year was very small and very sudden. This time around people are more aware of the contest, and have been spreading the word. Besides, lots of people who didn’t have a manuscript ready in 2016 can join us this year.
Dana: Do you keep in contact with participants from last year?
Laura: I do! There were so many people I got to meet from participating last year. Some of them have agents now, some of them are still looking. They also have a Facebook group for participants to offer support. Special shout-out to Katherine Maria, Renee Price and Kelly Barina!
Dana: What was the success rate from last year?
Laura: I think seven people in total got agents later! Some were directly from the contest, some from the query trenches but with the project they were working on. Unfortunately, I don’t keep a list.
Dana: What are you most looking forward to when the submissions open?
Laura: This sounds cheesy, but the words. It’s so great to read words by people who have shared some of my experiences. And it’s always exciting to find an awesome concept.
Dana: Since you found your own agent through #DVpit and are a mentor in #Pitchwars, do you believe contests work better than cold querying?
Laura: No, I don’t. I really do love contests, but they’re not a shortcut or a faster way to get an agent. The best way to get an agent is having an awesome manuscript. That’s all there is to it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a contest or not if your manuscript isn’t good.
Dana: Pitch América is open to any genre in any category. Does that include picture books? Is the submission different for them?
Laura: No, we don’t accept Picture Books yet ): We accept middle grade, young adult, new adult and adult submissions. I’m no judge of picture books or graphic novels, so I’d feel strange sorting them out whether they are ready or not to be featured in a contest.
Dana: How many submissions did you receive last year? How do you plan to read them all?
Laura: We received about 60 submissions. I have a Facebook group with other judges where I post the entry and we discuss their merits in the comments. That way, we can fill out a form which are the final submissions we really want to see make it to the agent round.
Dana: Lastly, any suggestions you have for hopefuls?
Laura: If you’re scared, just submit. You already have the ‘no’ from the rest of the world. Maybe this is your chance to have your ‘yes’! I promise I don’t bite.
#PitchAmérica is an excellent chance for Lantix writers with completed maunscripts. We hope you look into subbing at the end of August!