70pit16—What Next?

The entry windows for this year’s #pg70pit (#70pit16) have closed, and slushies are reading and scoring entries through July 5th.

Each entry has at least four readers, judging on a scale of 1 (needs work) to 3 (I want to read more!). The cohosts and I will look our 2.5 and 3 scores and from those, choose the entries with the highest average scoring entries to feature on our blogs.

So what should you do now?

  1. Join the Twitter Party
  2. Get your query letter ready
  3. Check the Top Hits playlist to see if your entry got a vote of confidence from a slushie.
  4. If you didn’t make the playlist…
  5. If you did make the playlist…
  6. If your entry wins…
  7. If you get an agent request…

Join the Twitter party!

See the schedule and daily topics here.

Get your query letter ready.

You might win all the writing contests in the world and still get your agent the traditional way—by sending a query letter. In fact, that is how the vast majority of writers get agents, whether they win or lose writing contests.

So if you entered pg70pit with an agent-ready manuscript, get that query letter ready and start querying!

If your query has had some success so far—leading to partial requests—then you might be good to go.

If your query isn’t faring well, or if you aren’t sure where to start, enroll in the StoryCadet Query Workshop Webinar (Lesson 5—available a la carte). Join live at 9pm EDT on Wednesday, July 6th, or watch the recording on your own time. In 2 hours, I will pull apart successful query letters, share insider information, and show you step by step how to write a pitch that will have agents, editors, and readers asking for more pages. After the webinar, you have the option of posting your query in the private forum for feedback from your peers. All participants receive a full query edit from me.

Check the 70pit16 Top Hits Playlist.

Entries are arranged by age category, with Middle Grade songs first, followed by Young Adult songs (Look for a song titled “Young Adults” to see the division), followed by Adult (Look for “As Time Goes By”).

You can also search by artist or song title. (Try Ctrl+F)


Disclaimer: it is possible that even if you are on the list, all of your other votes were a 1, which means your average score might be too low to be considered for a winning entry.

Disclaimer: it is possible that even if you are not on the list, that you had enough 2.5 votes to have a high-enough average score to be considered for a winning entry.

If you didn’t make the playlist:

  1. Did you choose a song available on Spotify? When I couldn’t find a song on Spotify, I chose a song with the same title or a song title using keywords from the 7-word description.
  2. Did you revise and proofread your page? We didn’t judge on perfection, but having a properly formatted and punctuated page aids comprehension and helps communicate the right tone. Review my revision checklist and see if you could have submitted a cleaner page.
  3. Writing is subjective—even our experts hosts couldn’t agree on scores for entries. Some entries I wanted to say yes to, but they had too many cliches or one of the problems I talk about in my revision checklist. Unfortunately, this is such a cutthroat contest, even a 2.5 might not be a high enough score to get you to the winner’s circle.
  4. Revise your pages. I have many free resources on my blog you’re welcome to use to guide your revision. You can also sign up for my weekly newsletter, The Writer Reveille to get a quick tip each week. If you prefer a guided approach, I’m offering a revision workshop in a few months. Show your interest by filling out this survey or subscribe to StoryCadet updates.
  5. Find a critique partner. On July 7th, read the winning entries on larawillard.com/blog and use the #70pit16 tag to share your favorite code names or ask who belongs to which songs from the playlist. Then introduce yourself and what you write (age category, genre) on the main #pg70pit tag. Search both tags to make new writer friends and find potential critique partners!


  1. Did you choose a well-known song? If so, it’s possible that the song on the playlist belonged to another entry. You’ll notice at least one song is repeated on the playlist—two entries used the same song and both got 3 votes.
  2. Check to make sure that your song is under the right age category. MG is at the top, YA is under the song “Young Adults,” and Adult is under “As Time Goes By.”
  3. Assuming no one else chose the same song in your age category—being on the playlist means you got at least one “Read more!” vote from any of the slushies. Yay!
  4. Get your query ready. Exchange it with a critique partner, read past query workshops, or join the StoryCadet Query Workshop Webinar.
  5. Revise one more time. Your 70th page set the bar—does the rest of your manuscript measure up?
  6. Network with other writers. On July 7th, read the winning entries on larawillard.com/blog and use the #70pit16 tag to share your favorite code names or ask who belongs to which songs from the playlist. Then introduce yourself and what you write (age category, genre) on the main #pg70pit tag. Search both tags to make new writer friends and find potential critique partners!

If you wrote one of the winning entries

On July 7th, the winning entries in each category will be posted on  or linked to my blog. If you are listed on my blog, JD Burns’ blog, Kaleigh Walters’ blog, or Elizabeth Buege’s blog, you are a pg70pit winner. In your query letters, you can include something in your bio to the effect of:

My 70th page of [MANUSCRIPT TITLE] won the pg70pit international writing contest in 2016, under the code name [CODE NAME].

After the winning entries go live on 7/7, literary agents have the opportunity to view the winning entries and can request at any time.

However, this year I have not listed the participating agents because, due to conflicting events or vacations or even-more-so-than-usual full plates, many agents could not officially commit to participating in 2016. By acting as “ninja agents,” the agents and agencies who did RSVP to my invitation are therefore under no obligation to make requests. This might mean fewer requests this year, but your participation in the #pg70pit and #70pit16 tags will hopefully cause one or both hashtags to trend, attracting more agents and agencies.

If you get a request

  1. Celebrate! Not only did you get enough yeses to be considered a pg70pit winner, but you also got a yes from an industry professional—one who could get you a book deal. That’s something to be proud of!
  2. Research, research, research. I am not responsible for vetting any agent (or small press) who requests your pages. Research that requester! You do not have to send pages to anyone. A bad agent or contract is much, much worse than no agent. I recommend researching the agency they work for, viewing their past contracts. I also recommend searching websites like Writer Beware or Absolute Write.
  3. If you send pages and the agent requests a full manuscript, then you’ll want to dig even deeper. Read one of their clients’ books (if not more), and ask your writer friends—in a private forum, like a Facebook group—if they have experience with that agent. That way, if the agent makes an offer of representation, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you’d like to work with him even before the call.

On July 27th, I’ll be interviewing Jackie Lea Sommers, author of Truest (Harper, 2015), asking her your questions about getting an agent, going on submission with publishers, getting a book deal, publishing a debut novel, and writing the next one. Subscribe to StoryCadet Updates to get more information in the upcoming weeks.

This guide is not exhaustive. If in doubt as to what to do next, connect with several critique partners to get their opinions, and research online. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer

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