If you're reading this, you've likely been biting your nails and triple-checking your calendar for when the Pitch Wars mentee submission window opens. If this is your first time submitting, your timing is impeccable! Pitch Wars is a mentorship program where a published or agented author or editor partners with you — a writer with an incredible unpublished manuscript — to ultimately craft an agent-worthy story for the #PitchWars agent showcase.
By participating, you essentially:
Have a completed manuscript written and edited
Tackled your synopsis and now understand your story from start to finish
Prepared a query letter and are considering pitching to agents
Now that we're all on the same "page" the real fun begins: selecting your mentor! (A list of 2020 Pitch Wars Mentors can be found by clicking here.)
After participating in several #PitMad events where I've been fortunate enough to attract agent attention (which even more humbly led to a few partial or full requests) I attempted Pitch Wars last year. While I did not gain a mentor, I am hopeful that this year, after even more critiques from agents, published authors, and beta readers, may be different. My latest #OWN voices MG fantasy has been elevated to the best of my capabilities and needs a mentor, someone with a sharper eye for publishing details than myself, who can whip my book into shape, help me hone my voice, and who can point out my story's weak points. That's why we're here and that's where this post may serve purpose if you were where I was a year ago.
We all have an inner #PitchWarrior as I like to think of it. Finding balance, trusting our instinct, and meticulously researching mentors cultivates this warrior mindset to stick with our books no matter what, to try and master our craft. I did not listen to my inner Pitch Warrior last year. I was over-calculating which mentor was right or not right for my book, did not seek enough beta readers prior to pitching, and listened too closely to other writers discuss top mentor picks. That, perhaps, was the greatest disservice to myself. Instead of focusing on my work — just mine — and how I can perfect my story the best I can, I took too much precious time to overanalyze the submission process. So, here's my advice to use as you will:
Pour your heart into your book first and foremost. Do all of the details in your book connect? Make sure that you hook yourself with your story first before you attempt to hook others.
Be honest and humble. Have you had any beta readers review your book? Were you open to reader feedback? Will you be open to mentor feedback? Part of Pitch Wars is to seek guidance from top tier authors; only when you are open to changes can you truly elevate your story.
Get cozy with research. Listening to other hopeful mentees discuss their submission process is a great way to network. But you also have to focus on your goals as an author and what you hope to achieve working with your mentor. Review each and every mentor's blog, compare manuscript wishlists, listen to their Pitch Wars Youtube discussions, follow mentors on Twitter and get a feel for their voice. This is a relationship and you want to work with someone who sees potential in your story.
Trust your instinct. Don't submit to a "less popular" mentor because you think the odds favor your submission. All of them are popular, well- respected, and admired. When a mentor's wishlist literally states elements that are in your book, or the mentor's social media or video chats discusses traits that you find admirable, that's when your little inside voice should be screaming at you to pitch to that mentor.
Balance your time. Before you know it, the mentee submission window opens and you have to be ready — no excuses. There may be some anxieties bubbling to the surface, self-doubt, reconsidering your submission or selected mentors. Solidify your stance early on. Find comfort with yourself that your book is ready to be submitted, that the mentors you gravitated towards are for you, and don't cancel yourself out of Pitch Wars before it begins.
What has provided incredible peace of mind to my writing over the years is realizing that it is competitive, but not so much a competition. If anything, it is more inspiring than ever before to see so many diverse voices coming to the surface. The more incredible stories we have, the more beautiful the book industry will be — the more empowering and magical and thrilling our monsters, dystopias, romances, queendoms, and heroines will become.
We are Pitch Warriors, we are writers, and we are submitting together.