Pitch Wars Advice Blog Hop
Hello 2019 Pitch Wars hopefuls! Before getting into the nitty gritty and sharing what it was like to be a Pitch Wars mentee, here's some brief information about myself:
I'm Tiffany, a Taiwanese writer/doctor and last year, I was lucky enough to have my dragon book (you can mosey around my page for a description of it) be picked by Jessica Vitalis and Julie Artz to be a 2018 PW novel! I write fantasy and am hoping to step into Sci Fi sometime, and my ideas trend toward the weird and beautiful...or just plain wacky.
If you're here, you probably already know what Pitch Wars is. But if not, here's what PW is in a nutshell: a mentorship program where chosen mentees will revise their novel (substantially) and, at the end of three months, participate in an agent showcase where agents can request partials/fulls on the PW site.
Now that the introductions are out of the way, let's head onto what exactly happens during Pitch Wars, how to know whether you're ready, and more.
What to expect during Pitch Wars...
For a more detailed look at my Pitch Wars experience, you can check out this post, but in short, I rewrote my entire book. Yes, that's right. About three scenes survived and even those changed quite massively in context. I also went from YA to MG. By the time the agent showcase had arrived, I had done two revisions and one more pass for line edits, all within four months.
Let the record show that my mentors told me that out of their past mentees, I underwent the most extensive revision. And from what I observed, I did one of the heaviest revisions of my year as well.
So, the first thing to expect: You will make big changes. I literally heard of only one person who finished their first revision in a month and even so I'm not sure if that's a memory blip of mine. The changes will hurt. You will dig your heels in. But looking back, you'll realize it was all worth it. As you do this you will undergo another change: You will become a much better writer.
The second thing to expect: You will be under a lot of pressure. You will be doing a lot of work in a relatively short amount of time, and you'll be doing that while still managing your daily life. I was working 80+ hours a week during Pitch Wars and yes, I definitely hated life for a while there.
The third thing to expect: Your mentor(s) will be your greatest pillar(s). They will hold your hand even as they tell you what must be changed about your book. They will encourage you even as they push you to complete your revisions. They will help you with your query, synopsis, and pitch, and give you advice on agents.
Pitch Wars is stressful and challenging, but at the end of if you'll emerge with a better book, advanced writing skills, and friends to accompany you onward.
What Pitch Wars doesn't guarantee...
- An agent
- A book deal
Literally nothing can guarantee you those two things.
What to do during the wait?
Ah, waiting. The torture all writers must endure. Literally, sometimes it feels like that's the majority of what we do. But here are some serious (and not so serious) recommendations for what to do during this time:
Write something new! Nothing is guaranteed in writing, and the best way to keep up hope is to always work on getting another book ready to soar into the world.
But...a sequel isn't usually the best idea. Sometimes the thought of just how much time you've invested in a set of characters, a world, a series combined with how it could well end up never seeing the light of day can get super crushing. Trust me, I've been there.
But...if that sequel is raging to be written, if it's quashing down all those other ideas? Then write it.
Read! If you can't write, read, read in the genres you write and the genres you don't.
Do some stress shopping. Reward yourself for writing something new, for maintaining calm, for finishing a beta read. Or, compensate yourself whenever a rejection rolls in.
Create a vast collection of animal memes to giggle over.
Perform some dark sorcery and sacrifice a couple of baby goats to the gods of writing. Kidding. (Maybe.)
The wait isn't fun. The wait is terrible. But it's also a great time to distance yourself from your book so that by the time it's time to revise, you can look at it with a fresh eye. Unless you simply can't suppress the urge to work on your novel during the waiting period, or there are other reasons why is has to be revised asap, I'd encourage everyone to take a step back for awhile.
What if you're not picked...
It's devastating. I know. It feels truly terrible. But here's the truth: it could mean your book needs massive revisions, or it could mean your book doesn't need revising at all, or it could mean absolutely nothing. Here's why.
Mentors pick books they will be willing to read multiple times and spend a vast amount of energy on. Simply speaking, they must vibe with your book and that isn't always positively correlated to how close it is to publication. (See: how I rewrote my entire book. My mentors definitely didn't pick me for having the best book at the time of submission.)
Mentors must also have concrete ideas for revision suggestions, and this is not correlated to how "good" the book is, either.
Who knows, it could mean you're query-ready.
But, what to do if you're not picked? There's truly no correct answer. I've heard of people who queried anyway and found their agents within weeks. I've heard of people undergoing revisions on their own. Despite the lack of a correct answer, here are some thoughts to consider:
Sometimes PW mentors will give feedback even if they didn't pick that novel to mentor. Definitely listen to that feedback. (But don't harass mentors asking for more, please.)
Even without feedback, you can evaluate the response you received during Pitch Wars. If you didn't have any full requests, maybe it's your query, your sample pages, or your entire book by extension that needs more work.
Beyond everything, revising or not, querying or not, the most important thing is to remember that there are many paths that lead to being published and Pitch Wars is a great opportunity, but it is not the end-all-be-all.
Have fun, Pitch Wars hopefuls! It's going to be exciting and challenging and wonderful!