Sunday, April 20, 2014

10 Pitch Contest Trends

In the past few months I've been part of a few pitch contests, on both the host/judging side as well as being a contestant. I thought it would be interesting to share some trends I noticed, but if you like statistics, you can check out this post here about Pitch Madness submissions.

Trend 1- Fantasy:

Oh My Goodness! The fantasy was amazing. There was so much of it and it pushed the boundaries. They were hot on agents' lists and they were hot in the slush pile.

Trend 2 - Murderers aka Thrillers and murderous Contemporaries:

And can I just say, these pitches killed it *Boom Boom* Thrillers and mysteries were in, especially ones featuring murders...and sometimes the MCs as murders. Sometimes they were labelled thrillers, other times contemporaries.

Trend 3 - Mental Health: 

Many of the pitches that did well revolved around mental health issues, whether featured as a characteristic of the main character or in the plot overall. They were well received by agents, which is a good sign for diversity representation.

Trend 4 - Awesome pitches transcending genres: 

There were some pitches were just plain awesome and got agent attention, even in genres that were not highly sort after. In fact, some were even in tropes that were said to have been in a saturated market, yet they had agents scrambling for the highest bid.

Trend 5 - Contemporaries/General Fiction:

This isn't my natural play ground as I like things under the Speculative Fiction Umbrella. But there was some amazing entries in this area that made me wish I had the whole MS to read.

Trend 6 - Kick-arse genre-bending historicals:

Some historial settings are getting a bit tired, but in the slush I've been seeing pitches that put a new take on historicals from times not over-sautrated in the market.

Trend 7 - Science Fiction:

There were some amazing SciFi entries in the slush. Sadly, SciFi is not hot at the moment. That's not to say they won't get picked up, but they need to be edgy and different. Straight SciFi didn't get a lot of agent attention, but SciFi with a thriller bent or other point of difference did well.

Trend 8 - NA:

Nearly every single NA entry to Nest Pitch got picked up by a blog. And an NA adventure was one of my best performing entry for the contest.

Trend 9 - Mislabelled genres:

There were so many mislabelled genres this time. I think people realised that some genres where not going to do as well, and therefore tried to pull one over the slush readers by mislabelling it. Other people simply may not understand the industry. The most common mislabelled genres were Magical Realism (if it's not set in the real world it's not MR) and Fantasy (if your story features aliens, it's not a fantasy, it's a Science Fiction).

Trend 10 - Pitch Contest Love:

So many people found critique partners, new friends and general shared the love around with the pitch contests organisers. It's great to see the writer and blogger community coming together to thank the people who organise these, because they are such hard work, and getting more out of it then just the opportunity to get before an agent.

Questions for you:

  1. What trends have you noticed in pitch contests?
  2. What future trends would you like to see in publishing?
  3. What things would you like included in future pitch contests?


  1. When I was still doing the contest circuit, I always found myself in a depressingly, frustratingly tiny minority of historical writers, and probably an even smaller minority writing in third-person. I did see a lot of contemporaries, fantasies, and paranormal romances.

    I'd love to see a trend back towards serious historicals, where the history drives the story, instead of being used as fluffy window dressing. I hate the whole Gossip Girl in period clothes trend. A lot of the YA historicals from the last 5-10 years seem to be focused more on teens who just happen to live in the past, instead of historical stories that just happen to focus on young people.

    I'd also like to see more books that are quieter, slower-paced, more about character development instead of so fast-paced and plot-centric. More third-person would also be awesome.


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