Welcome to my second blog post! Today I'm going to be talking about Pitch Wars and the incredible benefits of entering this incredible contest. But before I say anything else, I wanted to shout from the proverbial rooftops that I'm going to be a YA mentor this year! I'm so excited to virtually become friends with all the applicants and to read entries.
SO. What is Pitch Wars? It's an annual contest put on by Brenda Drake where writers submit their first chapter with the hope that their submission/entry will get picked by one of the 135 mentors this year. Mentors are writers who have been traveling down the publishing road for a long time. They have agents, some have published books or are in submission with editors. They've practiced and practiced to master the craft of writing. They know what they are doing.
The lucky writer who gets picked will then be mentored for two months, in preparation for the last round of the contest: THE AGENT ROUND. It's a grueling two months filled with revisions and line edits and more reading until you think you can't read your book anymore. But you do, because you want your book to be the best that it can be.
After two months, your book will hopefully be ready for the agent round. Agents will read the first 300 words from your manuscript and if they like what they see, they'll request additional pages. The day is an emotional roller coaster but YOU'RE NOT ALONE. The other mentees are right there with you, cheering you on.
Overall, the experience of Pitch Wars can't be beat. If you're on the fence about entering OR are wondering what all it would entail to enter, read on!
WHO SHOULD ENTER
If you've written a book that's finished and polished, you're good to go! What do I mean by polished? I mean, has your book seen several revisions? Have you gone through it carefully, stripping it of passive words and filtering language? Your book is polished when your stakes are clear, the voice is its own and unique, and you successfully "show" more than you "tell". You've nailed the world building and your characters grow throughout the book. They have poignant character arcs. You've handed it off to beta readers and to a couple of critique partners. It's the best that you can make it on your own.
In short, you've done everything you know how to do.
Pitch Wars will take your book further—so much further than you thought it could go. A lot of hard work but so worth it. If you're at that point and willing to work for it, you're ready to enter Pitch Wars!
Side note: If you haven't done any of the above, it's NOT too late! Now is the time to finish your story and to find critique partners. To ask people you trust to beta read your story.
PITCH WARS COMMUNITY
And here I come to the heart of what Pitch Wars did for me. The contest introduced me to incredible and encouraging people who happen to tell wonderful stories of their own. It's one of those things where the more you put in, the more you get out. Join the discussion on twitter! Meet other writers, mentees and mentors. If you're lucky enough to get into Pitch Wars, create a Facebook group for the gang. This is the place to cheer, vent and to hold others accountable. Trust me, you're going to need it. They will do the same for you, believe me.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
First, the obvious: finish your manuscript. Once that's done, start working on your query letter. There are so many writers on twitter who offer query critiques or do giveaways. Enter. Rewrite your query letter and swap with another writer. Edit their query letter—sometimes teaching helps me get better. Once you've done that, do it again. I went through so many versions of my query letter. It does get tedious. But once you nail the letter, you're golden and it's the best feeling. You can query with confidence knowing your letter will do its job and snag the attention of an agent. Besides, you'll need it for the contest.
By now, Brenda has posted all the important dates you need to mark on your calendar. There will be announcements all throughout the summer AND yours truly will be on a google live chat, along with other YA mentors. This is a great time to meet everyone in your genre. You can start getting a feel for them and start asking yourself if they'd be a good fit for your MS.
I hope this post has been useful for other writers thinking about entering the Pitch Wars fray!
For more info, you should visit Brenda-Drake.com! There will be past posts with interviews, details and you can even spot some entries from last year's Pitch Wars. You can also follow along on twitter by watching the #pitchwars hashtag. Definitely follow Brenda Drake and other mentors, if you see them! They'll be writing helpful blog posts, too!