Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why Pitch Wars Is Not Your Last Contest

First, I want to thank everyone so much for trusting me with their words. I received 71 submissions from 71 very brave writers, which gave me a lot of amazing options, and a lot of hours fretting over my final picks. As I mentioned on twitter, it's like being told to pick two cookies from a giant box of new flavors.

I will be replying to almost everyone who subbed to me, so look for my email the week following Brenda's announcement of the mentees. My reply might be questions I had for the pitch, or my reaction to your opening page, if I found the pitch to be solid. You will not hear from me if you were chosen as someone else's mentee or alternate, as I don't want to conflict with your mentor's advice. Apologies for that, but please accept a huge smile and a handshake from me right now, because I'm so very glad to see you move on!

Remember that this business is highly subjective. That sucks, but it also doesn't, because many of you just need to find the right person—you're doing everything right. There were a lot of solid submissions that I could see someone falling in love with, but that weren't quite a match for me. Heck, I'll admit right now that I could never get into Hunger Games (though I do enjoy the movies). Should Ms. Collins have stopped writing because I passed on it? I think you know the answer to that.

I also want to impress on you how quickly things can change, and how this contest is a stepping stone, not a barrier. A year and a half ago, I was sitting exactly where you were, chewing-my-sleeves-off anxious to hear back from the mentors I'd so carefully selected. I'd been polishing my manuscript for months. I had a query that was getting a thumbs up from everyone who critiqued it. A freelance editor had raved about my latest revision, and I had a few contests under my belt, so I knew how to prepare. I was so ready for it to be "my time."

I was about to find out I didn't make it. It stung, yes. Rejection always does. But I had some positive feedback from the mentors I'd subbed to and a growing feeling in my gut that this story, as much as I loved it, wasn't "the one."

I shelved the manuscript. I went back to an idea I'd played around with the year before. I finished it. I entered another contest. I ... well, I lost that contest. But I went back and ripped my first chapter to shreds, and the next contest I entered, I won not only an place among the finalists, but my amazing agent who sold me to a Big Five dream house.

This could be your story in a year.

Don't give up.


  1. Beautiful blog entry. I love it! I'm still sending feedback to people even if they got mentors, though, and I really hope it doesn't conflict with their advice, but I figure if their mentor tells them to ignore me, they can do that. ;) They're going to get so many opinions along the way anyway, so I figure they can take or leave mine!

  2. We all journey the same journey, only at different times. Some may travel longer than others, but for those who persevere, the rewards can be great. I'm only at the PitchWars stage with dreams of publication. That said, I give kudos to the literary community whose support sustains me, and drives me forever forward.

  3. I agree that this isn't the last contest. Everyone needs to realize that there's always another contest, another agent to query. Last year I was so hoping to be a mentor this year but alas, I'm still waiting to get an agent. Maybe next year. The only way you won't reach your dreams is if you give up.

  4. Well, boo on blogger for deleting my comment because I wasn't signed in when I posted.. ;P ... but it said something a long the lines of WOW what a journey you've had so far, and such great thing to read as we all gear up to query!

    I'll definitely have to remember the bit about how this is a stepping stone, not a barrier. Must write that down and tape it above my desk, as I prep for the days, weeks, (years?!) of querying to come! Thank youu!

  5. Great post, Nat. I can't stress the subjectivity thing enough.

  6. How inspiring! Thanks so much for this post.

  7. Great post! Thanks for the perspective.



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