Exciting news! I'm thrilled to share that I'll once again be mentoring for Pitch Wars in the Young Adult Category. This organization has my whole heart, and I'm so proud of its growth, the people involved and the commitment it has to fostering new writers. Pitch Wars has gotten some serious attention over the years in the writing community because of the caliber of writers it helps to launch. Some mentees have gone on to land agents, book deals, internships, and jobs in publishing. Books deals have been all over the map, but usually average anywhere in the thousands. One mentee's book deal went into the millions, is currently on the NYT Bestseller list, and is set to become a movie. NBD.
But Isabel, I have no idea what you're talking about. What is Pitch Wars exactly?
Well Ingrid, so glad you asked. Pitch Wars is a mentoring program in which writers pitch their finished manuscripts to carefully vetted mentors in their genre. A pitch contains the first ten or so pages of your manuscript, along with a query letter and/or synopsis. If your manuscript is selected by one of the mentors, you'll get to work side by side with said mentor to improve your story and how you've written it!
Each mentor can only take on one mentee though sometimes a mentor gets the green-light to take on two mentees. In the past, these were wildcard entries and assigned to mentors who were game to mentor two writers. Each year this works differently, so you'll definitely want to check back for the official guidelines for Pitch Wars 2018.
Wow! That's so awesome.
It totally is, Leander—but hold up.
The process takes months and by the end of it, you'll probably be sick of your own book. But! Here's the upside: the manuscript will have morphed into a story that's more polished on many different levels: character development, tension, theme, tone, etc. Not all areas of your book will improve, but most of it will. That's what we, the mentors, are committing to. Usually, the manuscripts are even query ready. You will have learned so much from your mentor—about being a writer, how to craft the perfect story, knowing the ins and outs of your story, its strengths and weaknesses. It's a ton of work, a time suck, but incredibly worth doing.
All right, I've intrigued you. What next? So glad you sort of asked, virtual friend. Here's a list, which isn't likely comprehensive, but a good place to start nevertheless, on how to prepare for Pitch Wars.
- A finished manuscript | Seriously. There's no getting around this. On top of finishing you should also be very familiar with the genre of your manuscript (Fantasy, Historical, Science Fiction, etc), and the word count. Does your manuscript have to be perfect in order to pitch mentors? Absolutely not. However, I personally am trusting that it's in the best shape you can make it. Spell check is your friend. Competition is FIERCE, ya'll, and I'd also strongly recommend sending your manuscript to trusted critique partners and beta readers.
- Be familiar with the official Pitch Wars site | Know all the important dates and plan accordingly. The site also has a wealth of information, including the official list of mentors, guidelines, and resources.
- Get on the Twitter | This isn't a requirement and if you hate Twitter, than by all means stay away. I get it. However, so much happens on the #pitchwars hashtag! You'll get to meet fellow Pitch Wars hopefuls, interact with mentors, follow along on any social media Pitch Wars fun like #poeprompts (Poe is the Pitch Wars mascot, created by yours truly). It's also a place where most go to find critique partners, observe (ok, fine, stalk literary agents), and see their dream editors gush about new projects they're working on. "Book Twitter" as most in the writing community call it can be a fun place to mingle, but if it gets overwhelming, or if social media in general isn't your thing, than just be sure to routinely check the Pitch Wars site for any announcements. If you do get on the Twitter, jump on the #pitchwars hashtag and introduce yourself!
- Write that Query Letter | I have a few blog posts on crafting the perfect query letter, but basically this is a one page letter that you'll send out to agents once your book is polished and ready to go. Have you ever read the back of a book and been totally intrigued by the premise of the story? That's the aim of the query letter. Relay just enough information, without giving anything away, to hook the reader. If you'd like to read up on how to write the perfect query, check out this blog post here.
Hopefully after reading the above you have a better sense of how to prepare for Pitch Wars, but really, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Seriously visit the official Pitch Wars site for any other questions! I'm always open to answering questions on twitter, too. :)
Thanks for reading!!