updated for 2017
The time is ticking down until the PitchWars submission window opens, and nerves are abundant! You’re probably wondering if you’re ready, if you made the right mentor picks, if your MS is good enough, if you’re good enough, plus about a thousand other worries our neurotic brains come up with every minute of the day.
Hopefully this will be a catch all post–a checklist, if you will–to make sure you’re ready.
1. Breathe. You wrote a book! That deserves its own celebration, and you should do so. You’ve done something 90% of the world only talks about. So hooray for being awesome!
2. Do your homework. Did you hop to all 120+ of those mentor blogs? Double check and make sure you didn’t accidentally skip one. I know it’s time-consuming and a lot of work. Welcome to publishing.
3. Polish that query and first chapter, but don’t forget about your entire MS. Any one of the mentors could ask for a partial (three chapters or 50 pages or some other variation) or a full. At any time after you submit. If last year’s numbers are anything to go by, we’re going to have a lot of subs to go through. Don’t make us wait to read. Be ready.
4. Follow the #PitchWars feed on Twitter. There is a plethora of helpful info as you get ready–and even stuff to take with you beyond PitchWars. Everything from writing a query to putting together a synopsis to getting rid of crutch words, plus dozens of others. This seems like a good place to mention that just because a mentor doesn’t take your category or genre, that doesn’t mean they don’t have nuggets of wisdom to share. We’re a helpful bunch, so venture outside your category and genre and make some new friends (and possibly future cheerleaders for your work).
5. Get your submission ready. When the window opens, there’s going to be a form on Brenda’s site. You’ll need to fill out your name, title, category, genre, word count, and twitter handle, and upload your query as well as your first chapter. Query should (ideally) be 250-350 words. First chapters vary widely in length. Brenda has also said that you may include your 3 page or less prologue with your first chapter. Chapters should be a Word doc in standard manuscript format.
6. Take your time. I can’t stress this enough. Whether you’re submission #1 or #100, you will get the same attention and consideration. Getting your entry in early does not improve your chances at all. Make sure you’re ready before you hit send, because once that baby’s gone, you can’t take it back.
7. Wait with bated breath, constantly refreshing your e-mail. Or maybe not. Just me while on submission? Okay then.
Some things to ease your mind
I can only speak for myself, so this only applies if you’re submitting to me (so submit to me!), though many other mentors have echoed the sentiments. If you’re unsure, double check their twitter feeds and/or bios!
- I will read all pages, regardless of your query. If it’s a hot mess, I’m still going to read your chapter. Now, if it’s a hot mess because there are loads of spelling and grammar errors, that’s a whole other issue entirely. But if it’s a hot mess in that it doesn’t tell me what it needs to, the stakes are unclear, it reads like a synopsis instead of a query, or it meanders, I’m still reading your pages. I’m here to mentor someone, and that includes help with a query.
- I will be asking for a synopsis if I feel like your MS is a good fit for me, and I’m interested in it. I don’t care if it’s super voicey or is as bland as a history textbook. I don’t care how short or how long it is (but please don’t send me ten pages), as long as it gives the entire story. Yes, that includes any twists, turns, or spoilers. A synopsis is like a cheat sheet for your MS. A query is like the back blurb on a book. One makes us want to read more (query!). One allows us to see if your book jumped the shark (synopsis!).
- I am not looking for perfection. In fact, I don’t want it. If you submit a perfect MS to me, I will read it (just for fun) and love it…and send you on your merry way. If I don’t feel I can help you in any way, I will tell you and encourage you to begin your agent hunt now.
- We share behind the scenes! This one doesn’t apply to only me, so feel confident that if you submit to 4/6 awesome mentors who don’t feel a connection with your story but think it would be a good fit for someone else, we will share it. My alternate from 2014 and one mentee from 2015 did not submit to me. When this happens, a mentor will contact you and make sure you’d be open to working with them before requesting additional pages (should they so desire). If you don’t feel like you’d be a good fit, don’t be afraid to say so.
- I don’t auto-follow anyone back (ever, but especially during PitchWars to avoid hurt feelings). If I haven’t followed you back, that doesn’t mean anything! I won’t be following back until after the announcement has been made, and then only to those who’ve been engaging (and nice, but that goes without saying).
- Having a mentee bio will not increase your likelihood of becoming my mentee. If you’re too busy polishing your MS/query/synopsis to do one? Okay. If you don’t like talking about yourself and would rather not? Okay. If you’re an introvert and the thought of putting yourself out there that much is more terrifying than sending your book baby into the world? Okay. I’ve never read any bios before I selected my mentees. I stealthily twitter-stalked. The mentee bios are one-hundred percent voluntary.
In case you’ve somehow missed it (or you’ve read this post and thought, damn…she’s super cool. I totes need to submit to her.), my wishlist can be found here. The gist: I want all your NA/Adult romances if they’re contemporary, paranormal, or suspense. I want swoony boys and strong girls. I want sex and lots of it. And please, for the love of Ryan Gosling, will someone send me a pierced hero?
I know I’ve managed to forget something, so I’m sure I’ll be back with some edits, but until then…any questions or concerns? Pop over to twitter or leave a comment.