Hi there! I’m Nicole. If you’re reading this, you are probably about to submit to Pitch Wars 2020, and I salute you. I was lucky enough to be chosen as a Pitch Wars mentee in 2017 with my novel Tidepool. I was not chosen in 2019, so I’ve been on both sides of this particular fence. Whatever happens, I cannot recommend the experience enough.
If you get in? Congratulations! Tell everyone in your life about this awesome thing you got into, and take a day to celebrate before the hard work begins. And make no mistake: it’s going to be work. I nearly fell asleep in front of my computer during revisions.
But it was also fun. My 2017 mentor, Peter McLean, really got Tidepool and understood exactly what needed to be done to make the story strong. (Indeed, even the novel’s current title was his idea.)
And remember: If you get into Pitch Wars, working with your mentor and making friendships in your mentee class are the real prizes. Anything after that—agent requests, offers of rep, book deals—is gravy. But none of it’s guaranteed. Take time to savor the experience while it’s happening.
As the showcase gets close, have a plan for what you’re going to do with your PW manuscript if you don’t get any agent requests, or if none of those requests leads to an offer. And think about what you’re going to write next.
That’s what I had to do after the agent showcase in 2017. I got 16 agent requests—which was about 14 more than I’d expected—but none of them turned in to offers of rep. I’m not gonna lie; watching some of my PW classmates field multiple offers of rep while I was getting either rejections or complete silence was hard. Really hard. I was thrilled for them, but I was extremely bummed out for myself.
Fortunately, I’m turning into a woman who’s just too damn stubborn to give up. I continued submitting Tidepool to agents, and I wrote another novel, and then another one, and I attended writing conferences and applied what I learned to my existing work, including Tidepool. In 2019, Tidepool finally found its home with Parliament House Press thanks to #SFFPit. You’ll be able to read my book baby for yourself in 2021.
If you don’t get in? Take a day or two to feel sad, pissed, both things, or whatever other way you need to feel. Slam doors, stuff cake in your face, and/or bingewatch your favorite series. It’s OK!
But after that, pick yourself up and keep going. Don’t assume you didn’t get in because your manuscript sucks. Pitch Wars is wildly competitive and gets more so every year. There are fewer mentors and far more submissions these days than there were in 2017.
What I said above about post-PW planning? It applies here too. Have a plan for what you’re going to do with your PW manuscript if no mentors pick it. Having a way to move forward will help lessen any remaining sting from not being chosen. Summon up all that badass preparation energy you used to get ready to enter Pitch Wars, and redirect it.
Make friends with other aspiring Pitch Warriors on the Twitter hashtags and maybe swap chapters or manuscripts. Start compiling a list of agents you’d like to submit to. Open up your drafting software of choice and plot your next novel. Never forget that Pitch Wars is one potential path to publication, but as wonderful as it can be, it’s far from the only way.
Feel free to drop me a line in the comments or find me on Twitter at @insomnicole if you have any questions or just want to make a shiny new writer friend. One of the best things about Pitch Wars is the community you’ll be part of the minute you decide to enter. Best of luck to you!