Query, revising, writing

What I learned last year from #Pitchwars

If you are on Twitter, you may have noticed the hashtag #PitchWars popping up on your feed. In the words of the amazing Brenda:

Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors critique the writer’s pitch to get it ready for the agent round. Mentors also pick two alternates each in case their writer drops out of the contest. A special alternate showcase is held on some of the mentors’ blogs and the mentors will critique the alternates’ pitches. (…)

  • Simple truth: if you don´t try, you most likely won´t succeed

Last year, I hesitated and hesitated and hesitated before entering the contest.  I had started querying and I was getting some positive answers but overall I was not 100% sure of my manuscript – basically I had queried a tad too early. Gathering up some hidden courage, I tweeted what my book was about. And I got some positive answers both from mentors but also from other participants.

I ended up being selected by the truly wonderful Dahlia as an alternate. The very talented Ghenet was her first pick and the lovely Nikki Urang was her other alternate. (by the way Nikki is getting published next year, you should totally add her book to Goodreads).

  • Contests are subjective

Contests are subjective. Not everyone gets chosen. It´s basically like querying, it depends on a lot of factors. Dahlia ended up posting why she chose the people she did (her full post “This is my brain on Pitch Wars” is very enlightening, so yep you should totally read it)

ONE TWO THREE by Elodie Nowodazkij: Something must’ve been in the air the day I made my final selections, because I ended up with not one but two dance-themed manuscripts, which still makes me laugh because I know nothing about dance. However, I’m a big sucker for characters who are really passionate about their hobbies (…) For me, what was actually the biggest hook was a totally personal thing – Elodie’s MC, Natalya, comes from a Russian family, and having minored in Russian Studies in college, I happen to love when Russian culture plays into a story. Every agent and editor is going to have his or her sweet spots, and that’s one of mine!

Social media bonus: Elodie had actually tweeted about her ms at some point before Pitch Wars, and holy cow did her tweet about its premise stick in my brain. When you’re actually staring at your inbox hoping a certain something will pop into it, it’s a very good sign!  (…)

And just like querying, you won´t know unless you take the plunge. The waters may be cold and the waves may be crushing you but they recede after awhile, leaving you ready to start anew.

  • My manuscript got stronger

Dahlia also went the extra mile and polished more than just my pitch. She read pages and gave me very very detailed feedback. Feedback that ended up making my manuscript so much stronger. I also got feedback from a ninja mentor (aka Danielle Ellison) which took the time to tell me what was working and what wasn’t.

  • Meeting new people/reading amazing stories

A team spirit developed. People cheered on the sidelines. Connections were made. I ended up reading some amazing books.

This year, there are more mentors, even more agents participating. I may try to enter DADDY´S LITTLE ANGEL (if I´m ready) but even if I don´t, I know I´ll encourage others and I´ll cheer for them.

If you have a manuscript ready to query but you still feel like an extra pair of eyes will help you out – I say, check it out!