• Dear 2015 Pitch Wars Mentees: 3 Things You Need to Know

    I’ve been in your shoes, and it’s an exciting  yet terrifying place to be. Pitch Wars changed my life in so many ways. It was the first time I truly learned how to revise (and not like…glance through grammatical errors or change a sentence here and there), I made a lifelong friend in my amazing mentor Rachel Lynn Solomon and great friends in my Pitch Wars 2014 community (shoutout to the crazy talented authors Elly Blake & Mara Rutherford who talk to me daily as we go through our author journeys together), and within two weeks of the agent round–I had 7 agent offers of representation.

    And of course, best of all, I got to meet the wonderful Brenda Drake–creator of the contest–who now let’s me assist her in contest and blog things and is an amazing mentor in this crazy industry. She’s an incredible person to have gotten to know and a great friend.

    Basically this is a great opportunity– if you make the most of it. So, here’s my top 3 pieces of advice for 2015 mentees:

    1) Embrace the Revision Process

    Revising can be scary. I mean, you already wrote a freaking book. That was a hard enough. But what makes Pitch Wars a contest unlike any other is essentially you’re getting free developmental editing guidance from someone for two months. Just so you know, those kinds of services cost $$$$. Now, everyone’s revision processes are different, but here’s a quick look at mine from last year:

    • Shortened the first 5 chapters (this was something a couple agents had said to me in the past, so I was happy to oblige)
    • Gave my YA contemporary’s CP a hobby (she needed to be more developed as a real person. I had never thought of a hobby before & it became a great tool in the plot later on).
    • Changed the ending to make it stronger.
    • Added more comic relief from a favorite character and a little more romance with the love interest–all while cutting the word count by thousands.
    • Searched for and deleted filler words (my crutches were “just” and “apparently”…apparently)
    • And the hardest: Deleted two characters and had them absorbed into other characters (this one tends to scare people, but I swear to you, it was the best thing I ever did. It made the characters left so much more dynamic and really streamlined the plot more. It was hard at first (one of them was a character I truly loved), but I trusted my mentor (as should you), and bit the bullet. Now I have an agent).

    Go in there with an open mind, open heart, and work your butt off. Of course, if you truly hate a revision idea, you don’t have to do it. But I encourage you to think long and hard about each suggestion. Your mentors have learned a lot in their author journeys (I’ve learned even more since signing with my agents), so it’s probably in your best interest to trust them.

    2) Connect with the Writer Community & Fellow Mentees

    When the list was announced during Pitch Wars of who made it in, I made a private Facebook group for all the participants sans mentors so we could chat about our revision craziness. It IS a crazy time, and the truth is–we all need support. Unfortunately, that support sometimes can’t come from people in our “real lives” because they don’t understand as much what we’re going through. But a writer in the same stage as you? That is a gift to hold on to!

    Becoming friends and supporters of all my 2014 Pitch Wars was invaluable. When the agent round happened, we cheered each other on. As different people got agents and book deals–we kept on celebrating. For those who get rejections– we kept on embracing and encouraging. WE NEED EACH OTHER. And I wouldn’t trade that group of talented individuals for anything in the world. It’s a year later, and we still talk nearly every day, sharing writing and process woes and even just talking about life.

    If you go through Pitch Wars only talking to your mentor, you’re missing out on the possibility of amazing professional relationships. So go out there and connect (and be kind)!

    3) Be Grateful

    The truth is, there are definitely no guarantees in Pitch Wars. The agent I ended up with came from querying after the agent round–but the polished query and manuscript I had due to the two months spent with my mentor is what made it shine.  Some people go through the agent round with no requests. Some get dozens. But in the end you still have a gift– new skills, a shiny manuscript with potential, and a great community of friends.

    No matter what happens, hold onto those and be proud of yourself and your author journey. Good things are definitely ahead–but being bitter or ungrateful (especially publicly) is NOT okay. A lot of people work hard to make Pitch Wars what it is, and to be needlessly bitter about disappointment is disrespectful to them AND to yourself for the work you’ve put in.

    Obviously, we all want agents out of this, but you get so much more. And that is the magic of Pitch Wars. You will be a better writer because of it.

    Read more words of wisdom from other 2014 Pitch Wars mentees:

    Amanda Rawson Hill: On Doubt and Hope

    Jennifer Hawkins: Last year at this time, I was you…

    K. Kazul Wolf: Congrats on getting further into the insanity…

    A.B. Sevan: Swimming with the Big Fishies

    Tracie Martin: What No One Tells the PitchWarrior

    RuthAnne Frost: 2014 Pitch Wars Mentee here, looking to offer…

    Rosalyn Collings Eves: Most of you are probably sick with dread…

    Peggy J. Sheridan: Welcome to the club…

    Janet Walden-West: The Long Game

    Destiny Cole: Yup, I’m talking to you…

    Kelly DeVos: Confessions of a PitchWars Alternate

    Mary Ann Marlowe: First things first…

    Mara Rae: I’m going to keep it short and sweet…

    Jen Vincent: Last year, on a complete whim…

    Kip Wilson: Congratulations, lucky mentees…

    A. Alys Vera: PitchWars is great, don’t get me wrong…

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