How to Bounce Back From Twitter Pitch Contest Rejections

Every time there’s a Twitter pitch contest for writers, a lot of people in my Facebook groups share their good news.

They got so many likes from agents!

Even from their dream agent!

A few voices chime in that no one liked their pitch.

They got a like, but it was from a vanity publisher, not from an agent.

They tried PitchWars and didn’t get in, they tried Nightmare on Query Street and didn’t get in, they tried DVPit and didn’t get in – and now they’re thinking their flavor of book is not marketable.

And they say in a small voice, maybe they won’t query after all. Maybe they will put their work back on the shelf.

Each time I see this sort of behavior, it makes me want to yell as loud as I possibly can.

No Twitter contest defines your self worth or that of your work.

And there are SO MANY ways to get your work into the world. I’m not even talking about self-publishing here, because the people who want to go that route usually do even if you’re waving the red flags at them.

Like the author who asked for advice on self publishing the first book in his scifi trilogy “because I have people who want to read it now” and then getting an agent for the sequel.

I’ve participated in a lot of Twitter contests and have had all sorts of experiences: Tons of likes, no likes, feeling excited, feeling ambivalent, and everything in between.

When other writers do well and we receive no feedback–no encouragement, no acknowledgement–it can hit us in a deep way. Knowing that other people are having the success you’re chasing can make you feel weak and vulnerable.

Maybe you push back by Twitter stalking them to see if their pitch or idea is REALLY better than yours.

Maybe you eat a whole candy bar and have a good cry.

Maybe you take it as proof that you aren’t any good at a genre, or that your project sucks, or that you really aren’t ready.

Stop it.

None of that is productive.

It’s all fear-based thinking.

It’s the bruised ego speaking up in the language it knows best.

The trick is to not get stuck here — or if you are stuck here to move through these feelings into a place of receptivity and openness.

If you’ve been putting your work out there and it isn’t working for you, thinking critically about why it isn’t resonating has its place, but that isn’t right after you’ve been rejected from a writing contest.

You’re not going to accurately appraise things when you are wounded. You need to care for yourself.

Treat yourself. Treat your soul. Make some chamomile tea and get in bed and watch a show you love and fall asleep early. Call a friend who really knows you to talk through some of the emotional stuff. Read a book you love so hard you lose yourself in it. Grieve that this opportunity didn’t pan out for you, but don’t take that as a sign that nothing will.

Then, when the hurt passes, you can think and plan.

I find we can get clarity on what our work needs in these moments if we find a place to be quiet and just breath and listen. If you have a formal meditation practice that’s great, that can really help you get out of this cycle of negativity but if you don’t or that’s not your thing take some deep breaths and try to let go of that stuck energy you’re feeling and let go of feeling carried away with all those fears and worries and ground yourself in the present moment.

Right now in this moment you have money and you have food and shelter and your basic needs are met. Take in that basic truth that right now you are doing okay. You’re doing just fine. Then move into the next moment and the next and ask your gut what needs to change.

Maybe you just need to keep persisting what you’re doing and learn to detach from the process.

Maybe your work needs more work.

Maybe your novel starts in the wrong place or the main character is uninteresting or it seems too telly. Be open to making change if it’s in line with making your work the best it can be – no change for the sake of chasing a trend.

If you’ve gotten passes with feedback, see if there are commonalities.

I don’t know if your work needs revision or if you just need to keep submitting and stay calm and trust the process. You need to decide that for yourself.

What I do know is, there is no one perfect way to get your work attention. You don’t need to get into PitchWars to get published.

I’m tired of people over-investing themselves (and their work, and their self worth) in these contests and freaking out when they are passed over.

Getting into a contest should not validate you as a writer, just as not getting selected doesn’t confirm you lack talent.

If you spend any time on Twitter on a contest day you will see there is too much information for any agent to keep up with. Your project got lost in the Twitter stream, and that happens. You can let it upset you or you can try, as best you can, not to take it personally.

The best writers are the ones who persevere long enough to make it to the end goal. If a Twitter pitch contest rocks your confidence, how will you be able to cope with form rejections and agents who ghost on you even though they promise to reply in 8 weeks?

So. Put your best pitch out there, but don’t put your worth on the line. I promise you and your work are worth more.

Leave a Comment