This time in 2017 I was gearing up to enter into Pitch Wars as a mentee (see PimpMyBio). 2018 - I finally made it into the contest. But as a MENTOR.
Someone pinch me.
I'm sure all of you are getting excited and nervous about what comes next for your book babies. So - if you plan to enter the contest this year and become a Warrior, then the first thing you have to do is sharpen your sword.
1. I have more than one WIP - how do I choose???
If you're one of those writers who has a million and one finished WIPs - pick the one that you feel is the strongest.
Strongest hook. Strongest plot. Strongest character arc.
This is your one shot into the contest so make it count. I know it's like asking a mom to choose her favorite child, it's difficult, but if you take off the writer hat and look at it objectively, one or two should rise to the top.
And if you REALLLLLY can't choose, then I would suggest creating pitches for each one and then lobbing those pitches at your friends. See which one really grabs them as the forerunner.
You can click here to go to the Pitchwars site to see the sample pitch format to begin creating your own.
Or you can click here to go to Carissa Taylor's pitch generator.
2. What's a CP and how do I find one?
Every writer needs a tribe. Start combing the #Pitchwars hashtag - which is where a I found a couple. One of who called me out on my incomplete ending and challenged me to write an additional 7k in one week before the window closed. But it was worth it and thanks to him, even though I didn't get picked as a mentee, I went on to receive 6 offers of rep when I immediately queired my agent list.
Had he not pushed me to recognize the weaknesses in my story, those offers might not have happened.
Another great source is WENDY D HEARD's CP matchmaking. She is a genius. It is a bit of a slow roll, though, so I think you should tackle both of these options at the same time, since you're in a bit of a crunch window with the contest fast approaching.
Don't be afraid to poke other hopeful entrants on the #Pitchwars hashtag. Start talking and feeling each other out. Not only is it great to make friends, but you're all in the same boat together and all want the same thing.
There's a reason PitchWars has been so successful for all these years - and it's because of the amazing, supportive community. Tap into it.
3. There are SO MANY ENTRANTS and so few mentors, what if I don't get in?
It's okay. You'll be okay.
Not getting picked doesn't mean you have a bad book or that you're not ready. Sometimes, it's because your book is already so strong there isn't much a mentor can do to help you aside from raise a glass of champagne and toast your future success. Other times, its not a right fit for the mentor, or maybe too similar to something their working on themselves.
It's SUBJECTIVE so don't get discouraged.
But it would be smart to use this time leading up to the contest wisely. Start researching agents - T H O R O U G H L Y - go to sites like Absolute Write Forum and Query Tracker. Both sites have people commenting about agents and their experiences with them, which can be very eye opening and sometimes help save you from querying a schmagent.
I'd even suggest if you have the means to afford the membership, to open an account with Publishers Marketplace so you can comb through an agent's recent deals and sale history.
While you do your research, make an agent list - Excel would be best - because if you don't get into PitchWars, then this list will become your plan of attack. You now know who to query and can fire off those queries as soon as you feel your book is in the right shape to go out into the world.
What this does is give you something else to focus on instead of not getting in, you're armed and prepared to wade into the war zone like a solo badass Jedi.
Hopefully by this point you will have gone through a revision ringer with CPs and have bounced your query letter off a few people as well so all that stands in your way is compiling three dozen personalized emails.
This is exactly what happened to me/what I did.
I didn't get picked as a mentee, but because I had my list all prepared and ready to go, within a week I fired off 38 queries, and less than a month later I had multiple offers of rep. All of which I wouldn't have achieved without putting in the work on my own with CPs and research.
Being proactive with building my PitchWars Plan B saved me from throwing one big Pity Party. It gave me a new goal to focus on. Hopefully it will do the same for you.
And, if you do get picked, and hopefully get dozen of agent requests in the Live Agent Round, this list will double as a 'Who I am excited to query' and you can send off straight away rather then spending another two weeks post competition. You'll already have a foot in the door before the rest of the mentees catch up, and get ahead of the PitchWars inbox flood.
Either way, it pays to be prepared.
Alright, that's it for now!!
Good luck to all future Warriors. I'm cheering for you all, and can't wait to see what you guys bring to the competition.