The Pitch Wars submission window opens next week, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some last-minute advice. This is my fifth year volunteering as a mentor in this contest, and my third time co-mentoring with Michael Mammay.
Pitch Wars has received increasing attention in the writing community over recent years (both good and bad). It always evolves, but this year’s changes are the most striking. We have new leadership, a new submission process, and a LOT of new mentors. That being said, I believe there are some aspects of PW that remain unchanged:
- The main goal is to help emerging writers improve their manuscript. Hopefully, this will lead them to literary representation and eventually publication, but it is not always so.
- All of the mentors are unpaid volunteers. We offer our time, energy, and expertise with no strings attached.
- PW is a small community. The relationships formed in this contest have significant, lasting effects on authors’ careers.
The Pitch Wars Submission Process
Everything you need to know about the process is probably covered in the Pitch Wars Submission FAQ. Go read that if you haven’t already. As a friendly reminder, the submission window is open August 27-29, and you will need to submit:
- Word Count
- Query letter
- First chapter
You will also need to choose four mentors and indicate whether or not they’re allowed to share your submission with other mentors.
The submission system is new this year. I’ve tested it, as have many of the mentors.I say this as someone who has helped build the submission system for PW in years past: the new submission system is far superior to what we’ve done for PW in the past. Gail Villanueva and her team did an amazing job.
On Mentor Selection
I realize that this is difficult for many PW applicants. However, I think that most people worry too much about this. If you submit to mentors for your book’s age category who have expressed an interest in your genre, that’s probably good enough. Sure, you can obsess over the mentor bios, wish lists, experience levels, and online personality, but this will probably not affect your chances.
It really boils down to this. If your work is ready, no matter which mentors you apply to, one or more of them are bound to notice. If this happens, but your work simply isn’t a good fit for them, they might very well share it with other mentors to whom you did not apply (providing that you gave permission to do so, when asked during the submission process). That’s why I encourage you to do a little bit of homework to make sure you don’t submit to mentors who can’t even consider your work (e.g. wrong age category) or who are not looking for your genre.
As long as you do that, you’ll be fine.
For Adult SF/F Writers
If you write adult SF/F, you should be aware that we have a lot of new mentor choices this year. Some I know personally, and others I know by reputation. Here are some quick reasons to choose them:
- T. Frohock (@T_Frohock) is a friend of mine, fellow Harper Voyager author, and an all-around wonderful person.
- Rebecca Enzor (@RebeccaEnzor) is a friend and PSIF contributor, as well as one of Mike’s CPs. Also a wonderful person.
- Sarah Remy (@sarahremywrites) is the author of no less than 4 books with Harper Voyager, and also considering New Adult (NA) this year.
- Jason Hine (@TheKrakenWins) is a fantasy author who’s been in this community for some time. I’ve served alongside him as a Query Kombat judge.
- Ian Barnes (@imbarnes) and Laura Lashley (@DistractLaura) are a new mentor team, and all hazing aside, they’re fantastic writers who understand what it’s like to be a mentee.
- L. D. Lewis (@Ellethevillain) writes diverse books, and has a novella out this year (A Ruin of Shadows) that looks pretty amazing.
- K.A. Doore (@KA_Doore) is a fantasy author whose debut (THE PERFECT ASSASSIN) will be published next year by Tor.
- Victoria Lee (@sosaidvictoria) and Rebecca F. Kuang (@kuangrf), if I’m being honest, are the team that I respect and fear the most.
Setting Pitch Wars Expectations
Pitch Wars as a contest has grown every year in terms of the number of entries. Given the recent changes, I suspect this will be our biggest year yet. When I ran the numbers back in 2015, there were 1,600 entries. I expect we’ll double that in 2018, but let’s say there are 3,000 entries for 100 mentor teams. This means that about 1 in 30 writers will be selected. Thus, you should go in with the expectation that you will not be chosen.
You should still apply. You have nothing to lose, and if you manage to make the cut, you have a lot to gain.
The single best thing that you can do over the next few days to increase your chances? Work to hone and polish your first chapter. Get someone to read it for you and provide honest feedback. Proofread. Polish. The strength of your writing and your story’s opening will largely dictate whether you get a request. But hey, maybe you’ve done that already and can’t bear to spend any more time on it. If so, here’s some further reading:
- Koboldt/Mammay 2017 Pitch Wars submission stats, trends, and overall impressions
- Our 2018 wish list, where you can learn a bit about what we hope to see and how we operate
- Last minute tips on writing a query letter and polishing the sample chapter for PitchWars and other contests.
- One mentor’s feedback, an old post of mine with slush impressions from 2014 that’s still relevant today.
Good luck to everyone! Now, go write.
The Science in Sci-fi, Fact in Fantasy blog series will return next week.
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