News I was not expecting: On February 15, Brenda Drake announced that Pitch Wars and #PitMad are closing up shop after ten years.
I’m not all that surprised about #PitMad, a Twitter pitch party which lately seemed to be a victim of its own success. Every recent #PitMad attracted way, way more participants than any agent could possibly keep track of.
I’m more surprised about Pitch Wars, but reading Brenda’s letter, it’s understandable. That’s a tremendous amount of work to place on volunteers. And indeed, the publishing landscape has changed a lot in those ten years. It’s not as hard to connect with other writers, agents, or with helpful workshops as it used to be.
Even so, I’m sad. I’m not sad for myself, as I was fortunate to be chosen as a mentee back in 2017. I may have mentioned that a few times. Including in the acknowledgments of my Pitch Wars novel, which was eventually picked up by a publisher. (Which I may have also mentioned a time or two.)
I’m sad for the people who won’t get to participate in the future, because it’s truly a magical experience. And I’m saying that as someone who wasn’t successful in the agent showcase—none of my 16 requests turned into an offer of representation, and I eventually got my agent by cold querying. A lot of people felt compelled to announce “Uh, you people know cold querying works, right?” in response to the news about Pitch Wars and I thought Yes, obviously, and nobody is saying it doesn’t, but Pitch Wars is still an amazing time.
What was so amazing about it? Knowing that someone saw something in my book. Having my mentor Peter McLean figure out exactly what my manuscript needed—including a title change—to make the story on paper match the one in my head. And making lots of writer friends, some of them in the same class, some of them mentors, and some of them past mentees who reached out to me just to offer support. It was fun to meet some of my PW ’17 classmates again in the 2021 debuts group on Facebook.
And while I didn’t get an agent from the Pitch Wars showcase, the number of agents who requested the full made me feel like I had something worthwhile with Tidepool; I just had to find the right home for it. Mine may not be the kind of success story people envision when they talk about Pitch Wars, but I think Tidepool has done pretty well for itself.
And I’m going to miss the excitement that rolls through Twitter in the late summer when Pitch Wars is about to open up to new submissions.
So, as a graduate of both Pitch Wars and the long gone Pitch Madness, I thank Brenda Drake and all the Pitch Wars board members and volunteers from the bottom of my heart. Tidepool started life as a NaNoWriMo novel; it became what it is now because a group of successful authors wanted to help aspiring writers up the publishing ladder. What you all did made a material difference to so many. May everything you do from here on out meet with great success.