I participated in RevPit 2020 and...*drumroll* I didn't win! And yet life went on. Now that the winners of RevPit 2020 have finished their edits and their glimmering new materials are visible in the RevPit showcase, it feels like a great time to dig into the innumerable benefits of participating, losing, and learning something along the way.
When I entered RevPit, I set my alarm so I'd know exactly when the submission window opened. I had my materials. I'd double and triple-checked them. I'd agonized over which editors to submit to. And I still almost didn't enter. Knowing what I know now, I kind of want to go back in time and hit my hesitant self over the head. Participating and ultimately losing did so much for me, so in this post I'm going to give you my personal opinion on the many, many benefits of losing and happily taking your participation trophy.
Based on what I saw during my RevPit experience, I don't think many people will disagree with me on this one. Contests like this are a great way to meet new people, bond with your existing writing community friends, and swap chapters for feedback. Timed events have a way of getting people together and focused on one thing, and they're precious in that way. Take advantage of it! When RevPit season rolls around, pretty much everyone is jazzed about working on edits.
Seeing everyone else so motivated got me to brainstorm edit ideas for my novel before I even heard the contest results. I drafted 20k words of a new novel while waiting for the results! I had an awesome time and the outpouring of creative energy was phenomenal. Motivational tweets ahoy!
Don't make the mistake of thinking winners are the only ones getting feedback from RevPit! While I can't speak for Pitch Wars (I'll be entering for the first time this fall), RevPit editors sent personalized feedback to every writer they requested additional materials from. This is invaluable, and it'll totally give you a kickstart towards making more substantive changes. Of the two editors I submitted to for RevPit 2020, I received one request for additional materials and got excellent feedback from that editor.
In the weeks since the RevPit winners were announced, I've even seen editors offer feedback to submissions they didn't request additional materials from. Keeping up with the editors on Twitter will help you keep track of opportunities like this, so don't miss out on the chance to get free (free!) feedback from professionals.
Overcoming Your Fears
Are you afraid of submitting to contests because you're worried about getting rejected? Guess what! There's no better way to get over a fear of rejection than by actually getting rejected. If you hold out until you think you have something that can't possibly receive a rejection, you'll just end up depriving yourself of the opportunity to grow. The road to publishing is paved with rejection, and the sooner you come to terms with it and start checking the rejection letters off with a grin, the better you'll feel about your work.
Rejection can happen for so many reasons. Sometimes it has absolutely nothing to do with you. Shortly after submitting to my RevPit editors, one tweeted apologetically that she wasn't in the right space to accept stories focused on grief. This is a perfect example of the ways in which we can't control the subjectivity of the industry.
I've seen many querying writers agonizing over rejections with the standard "Remember, this industry is subjective" closing line, but it's the truth! Submitting is a long road of taking your work, bundling it up, and rolling it tentatively in the direction of people who you think might be interested in it. Rejections are part of it, and sometimes getting used to it in the context of a contest can make it easier to get used to them when it comes time to query.
So what's the bottom line here? Basically, there's no harm in submitting to contests. You think you won't win? No problem! You can still get feedback, make friends in the community, learn to cope with rejection, and think about your work in a whole new way. And who knows, right? You might win anyway!