This deserves a post of its own. Dan Koboldt has this reasoned and honest breakdown of last months’ #SFFpit Twitter pitch event.
I’ve linked to it here, because it has some very good info for people just now querying science fiction and fantasy. Some mitigating factors include bad timing in June, ‘twitter pitch fatigue’ because of so many events, and small sample size.
Point 1: YA still dominates the pitch field, so we can draw a rough estimate that there are still at least a third more Young Adult authors than Adult authors trying to break into the field. This is a good thing in one way, because we need to keep pushing the quality and number of SFF books in YA. As long as YA SFF is separated from adult (it wasn’t, until about 15-20 years ago), it’s a main ambassador of SFF to younger readers.
It’s a bad thing for primarily Adult authors, because they may come away with the picture that publishers, agents, their fellow authors, and the market itself supports YA speculative fiction more than it supports adult. I don’t think that’s the whole picture, from looking at publishers’ catalogs, but it does seem to indicate that un-agented writers may have an easier time getting publisher interest if they are writing YA. It also seems to indicate that many agents (whether they openly admit it or not) seem to be more favorably disposed to YA authors.
Point 2: agent and editor participation was down sharply, and seemed to show fewer of what I’d deem responsible professional publishers. There were many more newer publishers and younger agents, often a warning sign meriting a lot more research.
Point 3: Dan ended his analysis with a pitch for the upcoming PitchWars. This may be good for some authors. PitchWars, according to Dan, gives un-agented authors a chance to have ‘published/agented authors, editors, or interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer critiques on how to make the manuscript shine.’
I’m still dithering about participating in PitchWars, mostly because of timing and market issues. I’m also probably not going to participate in more general Twitter pitching contests. It was a fun experiment, I learned a lot from it, I had valuable feedback…but in the end, I didn’t make any serious headway.