We’re just a few days out from submissions opening for Pitch Wars 2016. Wahoo! In case anyone is still on the fence about entering, I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts about my experience, which in case it’s unclear from the blog post title, was awesome.
I stumbled onto Pitch Wars while searching for revision strategies in the spring of 2014. I’d been querying a MG fantasy novel for the first time. My query returned two full requests and nine form rejections. The full requests also turned into rejections, although one was a very encouraging personalized e-mail with an invitation to resubmit if I revised. I very much wanted to do this, but I wasn’t sure where to start.
Enter Pitch Wars. (Sort of.)
When the mentor bloghop went live, I spent hours narrowing my choices, agonizing over wording and minute differences in mentors’ tastes. (Like most writers, I have a tendency to overthink things.) I watched the MG fantasy mentors on Twitter and had a few interactions with several of them, though as a Twitter newbie I didn’t interact as much as I could have for fear they’d think I was sucking up. (See above, re: overthinking.) I sent in my query and first chapter, and when the mentor picks list went up, my name wasn’t on it.
Two awesome things came out of 2014.
1.) Feedback. The mentors aren’t required to send feedback, but two of the four I submitted to did. (I ended up becoming CPs with one of them later.) While overwhelmingly positive in tone, they pinpointed issues with that particular manuscript that I hadn’t seen at all. In this case, it led to me shelving the manuscript for now. But that’s totally fine because…
2.) I wrote something new. I actually started writing it while waiting on the mentor picks to be announced, which is THE BEST POSSIBLE THING I COULD HAVE DONE. It was a great distraction, and when I wasn’t chosen, it lessened the sting. I had something else to work on PLUS I used feedback from my other novel to (try to) avoid problems in the new one. I wasn’t always successful, but even from the first draft it was far stronger than it would have been otherwise.
Fast forward to Pitch Wars 2015. I entered again, this time with the brand new manuscript I’d started in 2014. Because of my 2014 experience, I was a little more confident this year. I had a lot of fun interacting on the Twitter feed, especially after finding a few people who share my sense of humor. I also started writing another new manuscript because I still believe that’s the best way to distract yourself. (At least, for me it was.)
This year when the mentor picks went up, my name was on the list, chosen by the amazingly funny, wise, and talented Wade Albert White (with whom I’m co-mentoring this year!) But getting in was really just the beginning. It would take multiple blog posts to describe the awesome rollercoaster of the next few months, so I’ll summarize what I gained:
1.) I learned more of my own writing pitfalls–not little things like crutch words or too many adverbs, but big picture things like why my plotting falls apart or my pacing stalls as well as strategies to identify and fix the big picture pitfalls.
2.) Revising under time constraints is a skill worth acquiring, and Pitch Wars helped me develop it. Two months doesn’t seem like a very long time, but I’ve heard from several of my friends with contracts that it’s still longer than their publishers gave them. Completing two revisions passes in two months (plus a third pass for little inconsistencies, typos, etc.) helped me develop a strategy I’ll hopefully need in the future. *fingers crossed*
3.) An awesome agent–Elizabeth Kaplan
4.) Community. The writing community I gained through PW is awesomely supportive. The PW Class of 2015 is still going strong and pulling for the Class of 2016!
So if you’re on the fence about entering, hop on over! You have nothing to lose and lots to gain!