Monday, March 24, 2014

Announcing "The Writer's Tank" Contest!


I am very excited for this one because it's based off of one of my favorite shows: Shark Tank!!!!!!!!!

If you don't watch Shark Tank, the show is all about entrepreneurs coming in to pitch their products to multimillionaires and billionaires (the sharks). The sharks can invest in their products or send the entrepreneurs home packing.

The gist of this contest is that the agents will be the sharks (but nice sharks, like Robert) and the contestants will be the people pitching their 'products.'


The Details:

From a slush pile, I will pick thirty(ish) of the best entries in a variety of genres and try to find something of liking for every agent.  These entries will consist of the query, the first 250, and a 40-word pitch. But the catch is that all of the thirty-to-forty entries will be categorized by category and genre and then listed in a single blog post with their pitch below it. So, it'll look something like this:

YA Science Fiction - FEED
"A teenager goes to the moon to have fun but finds out the moon totally sucks."

"Holden Caulfield walks around New York and thinks a lot, basically creating a masterpiece."


Clicking on the titles will redirect the agent to a blog post with the query and 250. So the agent won't have to look at the dozens of queries and 250's - they can scan a single blog post and only click on the entries and pitches that look interesting to them.

That's why this is the writer's tank! The pitch is super, super important.

From there, if the agent likes the query and 250, they can place a 'bid' requesting any number of pages. The agent that bids the most for an entry will receive that number of pages and also a 5-day exclusive reading period. During this period, the writer can't send their requested pages to any other shark except the winning shark. (This exclusivity is only for requests from this contest, not for normal querying or other contests.) After the five days, the writer can send out all the remaining requests from this contest. 

Also, it's a first-come first-serve basis - if two agents bid fulls or 50 pages and those end up being the winning bids, the agent that bid first wins.

So. You got the gist of it? I've got agents already on board with the contest and more coming in by the day! It should be a huge success (hopefully)

The Schedule:

I'll open up the submission window twice (to accommodate people in different time zones). One will open on ThursdayApril 10th, 3 pm EST, and the other will open FridayApril 11th, 8 pm EST. Both will close when they reach 75 entries (so the max is 150 entries in total) but I doubt we'll reach that number. This isn't Query Kombat, after all. I just want a cap on how many entries I'd have to read, hehe. There will be a confirmation email saying that I received your submission.

Edited to Add: We have a lot of spots open so keep on submitting! There seems to be a problem with Yahoo's email, so make SURE you get a confirmation email within 5 minutes of sending. If not, resend :)

The posts will go up and the agents will participate starting Friday, April 18th (but if I can get them up on Thursday instead, I will). The agents have until Tuesday the 22nd to make their bids.

The Formatting and Submitting:

Send all your submissions to thewriterstank (at) yahoo (dot) com. The emails should be formatted EXACTLY like this:

In the subject line, "TWT: Age category Genre, TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT."

Title: [Title of your book]
Genre: [Age Category AND Genre, so it'll be like YA Fantasy. And make SURE you pick the right genre! That can make-or-break you.]
Word Count: XX,XXX

Pitch: [No more than 40 words!]


[No tabs, only line breaks. Only include the meat of your query: no personalization, no bio, etc.]


[Your first 250 words here. It's okay if you go a few words over, just make sure not to end in a middle of a sentence!]

Also, all genres and age categories are invited! However, keep in mind that I'll be looking for entries that the agents will want. If there are no agents looking for picture books, I won't be picking any picture books.

The Genres:

(In the comments and on Twitter, I'm seeing some people asking about what genres are going to be represented in the contest, so here's the (growing) list below! These are the genres that the agents participating have an interest in. The agent list is growing, so this list will grow along with it.)


  • Literary
  • Historical
  • Commercial
  • Mystery
  • Thriller
  • Women's Fiction
  • Cultural
  • Romance
  • Suspense
  • Horror
  • I think it's simplest to say: all genres :D
  • Fantasy
  • Contemporary
  • Action/Adventure
  • Historical
Nonfiction (because I'm not experienced with nonfiction proposals and I wouldn't know how to read or judge them, I have to limit the nonfiction to only the 'story' types. I'm so sorry! I feel bad about this but I honestly would have no clue how to judge proposals):
  • Memoirs
  • Human-interest
The Quirks:

Some of the agents are looking for some specific things.

SO, if you have

  • a novel that's basically a historical fiction but of the vein that it's told by, say, Emily Dickinson's maid, or Abraham Lincoln's gardener...that kind of stuff. 
  • food memoir
  • a historical romance in the Regency era

make sure you enter this contest! You'll have a good chance of getting in (as long as your entry is sufficiently strong, obviously).

If your genre is not listed (such as NA) SUBMIT ANYWAY. If it's an outstanding entry, I'll pick you and hope the agents love it too.

I'll do a separate post revealing all the agents that'll be participating. So keep an eye out for that.

I am so, so excited for this. But guys, you need to make sure your pitches are fantastic. Don't rely on only your query and 250. You need to get an agent to click on your link, and to do that, your pitch will have to be enticing. Remember: all you're trying to get is an agent to click on your post. That's all. So make the agent desperate to read your query and 250!

If you plan on participating in this contest, make sure you are following this blog as a requirement. Also, we'll be Tweeting as well under the hashtag:


Yes, I know, there's no apostrophe, but adding an apostrophe would split up the hashtag so you wouldn't be able to click on it! We'll let go of this grammar blunder for now. (Please?) You can find me on Twitter over here.

I'm very very excited! Are you guys? GET THOSE PITCHES IN SHAPE, GUYS! And do you have any questions? Ask them in the comments below! And spread the word over Twitter!


Pk Hrezo is giving a free pitch critique to one luck emailer! Look below in the comments for details. Hurry before someone snatches this amazing prize!


  1. Great! Should the email be single or double-spaced? Thanks.

  2. W00t! A contest. You know I'm entering, but only if I can get this polish run done!

  3. YAY! Hoping to be done with minor revisions by then =). Now, please, someone want some adult LGBT!! *fingers crossed*

  4. I love Shark Tank. Although Robert isn't always the nice guy - last week he wanted 70% of a company and I hate it when he does the "choose me now or else" technique. But yeah, he'd be a great guy to work with although I'd love to have Mark and Kevin fight over me cuz then I'd know I had a great product!

    Sounds like a fun contest and I just reworked a bit of my characters motivation which should improve my query. I'll jump in if I get it ready in time.

  5. I'm writing a biography about my grandfather. Will any of these agents be interested in nonfiction?


    1. I just added a list of the genres being represented. If you don't see yours, please, submit anyway! The list of genres is growing as well.

  6. This is going to be amazing.

  7. Sounds like fun!! And right up Janet Reid's alley - she's the original Shark, after all :)

  8. This is awesome! And hey if you wanna let your audience know, I'll do one free pitch critique to anyone who emails me between now and the start of the contest. :)

    1. Wow, thank you so so much!!! I'm going to Tweet it and put it in the blog post (until you comment and tell me that you got your one person, so you don't get bombarded by emails :D).

      Everyone: Pk Hrezo is a very accomplished and agented writer who is a big member of the writer's blogging community. Getting a critique from her would be a big help to your entry, honestly.

  9. I've marked the date! Here I come! :)

    1. Thanks for the great critique! :) I'm getting my pitch ready.

  10. Great idea - so creative. Time to grab those flippers.

  11. I assume this is for completed manuscripts only, yes?

    1. Yes :) Completed, revised, and polished.

  12. Thanks for putting this contest on! Will definitely mark the date!

  13. I saw this blog post about lessons that people can learn from Shark Tank and thought of you and your contest -- :)

    1. Love it :D This show is so versatile!

  14. When you say "first 250", do you mean words or pages?

  15. AAAH I'm so excited for thiiiiis!

  16. Pitch is ready! I'll be waiting patiently by my computer at 2:59 tomorrow.

  17. What's ETA? Did you want to know when the completed manuscript would be available?

  18. Jen--that just means "Edited to Add." SC added something below that.

    1. Yea :) I got rid of it, though: too much confusion!