The success rate for this contest is unlike any other. I believe we had 20+ authors who landed an agent last year, some even before the agent round. So I hope you apply, and if you write adult SF/F, I hope you’ll apply to me!
What I Want:
My mentor categories are the same as last year. You might want to peruse last year’s mentor bio for more insights, but in case of any discrepancy, this year’s bio should be considered canonical. So, for Pitch Wars 2015, here’s what I’ll be considering:
- Adult books only. The age category is non-negotiable. If you send me something labeled YA, NA, or MG, it’s an automatic pass. I won’t even read it. It’s not that I don’t love those categories, but Brenda will not let me pick one, so let’s not waste one another’s time.
- Science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, or thriller. If it’s not one of these genres (or a subgenre of them), then it’s a real long shot. That’s what I write and (mostly) what I read, so I’m unlikely to venture outside of it. Especially since we get only one pick.
- Author willing to revise. This hasn’t been a problem for me, but sometimes people enter a contest like this and then are resistant to take any critique/editorial suggestions. If this is you, please don’t apply to me.
- Rule followers. If you read Brenda’s Pitch Wars 2015 post, you’ll notice there are some expectations for mentees, including that you won’t query, enter in other contests, or self-publish your manuscript before the agent round.
What I Don’t Want:
You may be awesome, and I may be awesome, but it’s possible that there are very good reasons we should not work together. So here are some things I would prefer not to see in my Pitch Wars inbox:
- Contemporary fiction. Thanks to my awesome CPs, I’m better versed in this type of fiction. Even so, I’d prefer to play to my strengths and contemporary isn’t one of them.
- Romance, historical, mystery, or women’s fiction. I don’t really read books in these genres, so I would not know how to help you.
- Self-published works. I’m a great supporter of indie publishing, but this contest is for people who want an agent. And agents will not consider work that’s already been published.
- Books over 110,000 words. I love a tome-sized work as much as anyone (especially in fantasy) but given the time frame, I know I can’t give you a good critique for a book that’s over 110k, so that’s an auto-pass for me.
Also, a small request: If we know one another personally (i.e. from a writer’s clubhouse), please don’t apply to me. One of two things will happen: (1) I pick you, and people accuse me of being biased, or (2) I don’t pick you — which is more likely — and it’s awkward. Casual acquaintances from the blogosphere or social media are fine, though.
What I Will Do:
If you apply to me as a mentor, I will give your query and first chapter a fair evaluation (as long as it meets the guidelines above). I’ll read all of the entries, and probably ask a handful of authors for more things. If you apply to me, you’ll want to have ready:
- The first few chapters, or the full manuscript
- A 3-5 page synopsis (so that I get a feel for the overall story)
- The query/submission history for this manuscript
Anyone who gets a follow-up from me (i.e. a request for more materials), even if they’re not chosen, will be an unofficial alternate in case my first pick has to drop out.
If you don’t hear from me at all within 2 weeks of the submission window, alas. This is probably a bad sign, and I’m sorry. You might want to read my recent post from the NewAgent contest for some insights.
I *might* be able to provide a sentence or two of feedback sometime after picks are announced, but no promises! Please don’t e-mail or DM me to argue or ask for feedback. My time is limited and I’ll want to focus on my mentee.
Speaking of which, if I do pick you for Pitch Wars, I’ll be like a CP with benefits! I will:
- Read your entire manuscript and provide high-level feedback.
- Send you a Track Changes document with comments and suggested line edits.
- Help you polish your query letter and first pages so that they really shine in the agent round.
- Advise you in vetting agents/agencies/publishers, author-agent interaction, etc.
- Invite you to guest post on my blog, to help build your profile in the writing community.
Advice for Authors
As the technical consultant last year, I got an inside view of the #PitchWars submissions. Competition was fierce. If you read my post on the Pitch Wars 2014 numbers, we had over 1,200 applicants. On average, each mentor got 67 submissions. That’s a lot to go through, and if you read my mentor feedback post, you saw some of the issues that were common in the slush pile.
The odds of becoming a mentee last year were about 6%. That’s lower than the request rate for most literary agents, by the way.
This is not meant to say that you should not enter. You absolutely SHOULD enter. But I will offer a few pieces of advice:
- Get feedback to hone your submission. That’s query letter and chapter 1. Find some other authors to read and give you honest feedback, or if you’re very dedicated, hire an editor. You won’t regret it.
- Use standard manuscript format. This is one of those little ways you can show us mentors that you understand the business.
- Choose your mentors carefully. You only get to submit to a limited number, and that may be a tough decision. Find someone who seems to like the kind of thing that you write.
Please remember that Pitch Wars mentors — myself included — are human beings. We have our own personal preferences, and it’s good to do your research. Since you’ve read this far in my mentor bio, I’ll offer a tiny reward. Here are some ways to impress me when you enter Pitch Wars:
- Submit a marketable project with a word count in the sweet spot (90-100k) for SF/F.
- Have an active Twitter presence, and engage others on the #PitchWars hashtag
- Demonstrate publishing industry knowledge and author professionalism
Now, go off and visit the bio posts for the other #PitchWars mentors. Good luck!
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