I recently participated in Brenda Drake's Pitch Wars. This is a contest in which writers with a completed manuscript enter to win the chance to work closely with a mentor in order to edit and perfect their manuscript. The mentors are either published authors, editors, or both. There were roughly 108 mentors and about 1,500 entrants. The total number of mentee spots came out to about 125 because some mentors were allowed to take on two mentees. I did not get selected, but truthfully, I wasn't expecting to. I wasn't being pessimistic; I was being realistic. Statistically, the odds weren't in my favor. I'm also beginning to realize that my vampire novel isn't very marketable right now and mentors were mainly looking to take on marketable pieces.
Despite the fact that I didn't "win", I'm glad I entered and feel as though I gained something from the experience. First off, Pitch Wars forced me to buckle down and make the changes to my manuscript that I'd been putting off. It also got me to improve my sub-par query letter.
After participating in a contest that took place earlier in the summer, Michelle Hauck's New Agent, I realized the query I once thought was excellent was actually pretty lame. To be honest, it sucked. And not because it was a query for a vampire novel. It sucked because it was poorly written. That's totally okay though. I think almost everyone initially writes a crappy query letter. Writing and sending out a bad query is all a part of the initiation process.
After New Agent, Michelle was awesome enough to host a query critique blog hop on her blog, which allowed me to get some great critiques and insight on my query. I learned that themes do not belong in a query letter. I also learned to stop trying so hard to be clever. My attempts at being clever left my query with a cutesy tone that did not at all match the voice of my story. I revised my query for Pitch Wars, and I am fairly confident that it is at least ten times better than it was.
The Pitch Wars wait was fun because it put me in touch with a number of like-minded people. I connected with people who understand my love for writing and the overwhelming need to put words onto paper. A number of mentors shared their own experiences with querying. Every single one of them was once where I am now, and I cannot begin to explain how comforting it is to know I'm not alone. I'm currently sitting at twenty-seven rejections, and I've learned that twenty-seven ain't nothin'. Some people hit two-hundred before they finally landed an agent. Yeah, on one level this is seriously daunting, but mostly it's encouraging, because these people never gave up.
All that being said, this seems like as good a time as any to give a shout-out to the mentors and thank them for how awesome they are. They have put a ridiculous amount of time into this contest, especially considering that they all have jobs, school, novels, families, and lives of their own. When I explained to my boyfriend what Pitch Wars was he asked, "What do the mentors get out of it?" I was like, well, they get that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing they're helping people, they're doing what they love, and they're paying forward the help they got when they were in the mentee's position. He looked surprised by this answer so I added, "Writer's are just really nice people."
So, in short, the mentors are awesome.
Many of the mentors are giving feedback to everyone who submitted to them, which is incredibly awesome. Others don't have the time, and that's totally okay. I haven't received any feedback yet, but I've been told by a few of the mentors I subbed to that I will, it just may take some time. I don't mind waiting. Getting feedback from someone who's been through the query trenches is invaluable and a win in itself in my book.
Now that Pitch Wars is over, I've decided what my next move is regarding my Pitch Wars submission. I've decided not to look over my manuscript again, at least not right now. Depending on the feedback I get, this decision may change. I currently have a writer's group friend who is giving it another go, and I will take her feedback into consideration, but at this point in time, I'm leaving it how it is. I'm happy with the edits I gave it to get it ready for Pitch Wars. I will be participating in Pit Mad (yet another Twitter contest) on 9/10. After Pit Mad, I plan to start querying again. Instead of querying agents, I plan to focus my efforts on smaller presses and Indie presses. I feel that this might be a better route to take for this particular story.
I also plan to finish my WIP and start a new novel. Basically, I plan to write write write and never stop.
Why would I ever stop?
In case anyone is wondering, yes, awesome is my favorite word.
Thanks for reading!