Pitch Wars from a 2017 mentee perspective…

I recently got a question about Pitch Wars, and how to enter/how it works, so I thought I’d do a blog post about it—from a mentee perspective. Now, I’m not an official part of Pitch Wars, so this information comes purely from my experience as a mentee in 2017, but I will include the 2018/2019 dates to help with clarification for the coming year.

 

The 2018 Pitch Wars schedule from the official website:

July 15, 2018: Mentors Announced

August 14 – 27, 2018: Pitch Wars Mentor Blog Hop

August 27, 2018 (midnight EDT): Mentee Submission Window Opens

August 29, 2018 (10PM EDT): Mentee Submission Window Closes

October 12, 2018: Pitch Wars Mentees Announced

February 6 – 11, 2019: Agent Showcase

February 6: Adult entries are live on the Pitch Wars site

February 7: MG entries are live on the Pitch Wars site

February 8: YA entries are live on the Pitch Wars site

 

Note: #PitMad is a separate pitch party hosted on Twitter and run by the same committee as Pitch Wars, but they are not directly linked.

 

Okay, so let’s take a closer look at exactly how each of these dates will work.

 

July 15, 2018: Mentors Announced //

August 14 – 27, 2018: Pitch Wars Mentor Blog Hop

This is what it looked like back in 2017!

Last year, the entire list of mentors was released on the Pitch Wars (well, at the time it was still on Brenda Drake’s) website, with links to their blogs. They listed their writing/critiquing style and what they were interested in, their “wish list” projects and genres. This is important for Hopefuls! I spent a LOT of time analysing the mentor options, trying to figure out exactly which mentors would be the perfect fit for me. Read the posts carefully and make absolutely sure the mentors you pick are open to your genre/category. There are sometimes swaps behind the scenes, but it’s best if you can choose the right mentor—the same way you would research an agent before querying them. Stalk—uh, research them on Twitter to see if you’re likely to get along. Also, last year the mentors were open to questions on Twitter, so if this is the case, don’t be shy to straight up ask them if there’s something in your manuscript you’re worried might be an issue. I have a series of flashbacks in mine, which can sometimes be a problem, so I made sure to ask my shortlist of mentors if this was a deal breaker.

 

August 27, 2018 (midnight EDT): Mentee Submission Window Opens

Check out the official Pitch Wars submission FAQ page for details!

Exciting! Now you can submit your query letter, synopsis, and sample material. It’s probably going to be the first chapter (up to ten pages) of your manuscript, and this should be formatted in the standard style—size 12 font (preferably something like Times New Roman) and double-spaced. Don’t try to trick the system and submit your pages single spaced so that you can send more. Likewise, be mindful about where your sample pages end. A good hint is to make sure you end at a strong point, a hook of some kind that makes the reader (mentor) HAVE to request more! If that means ending at nine and a half pages instead of ten, do it. Or if you have to sneak in one extra paragraph, that should be fine. But I suggest you do NOT go crazy and add two extra pages. A little wiggle room is okay, but try to keep it as close to the requested page amount as possible.

 

So, how do you enter? On 27 August, the Pitch Wars website will open its entry doors. There’ll be an online form for you to fill out and then hit submit, probably attaching your query letter and sample material in Word.doc / Word.docx (again, I’m going by last year’s format here). The site gets insanely busy when it first opens. If it crashes DO NOT PANIC! I’m sure there’ll be ways you can check to make sure your entry went through, etc. Frankly, I wouldn’t rush to the site the moment it opens. This is not going to better your chances, especially at midnight when you’re hyped up and/or tired. Rather, do it when you’re calm and can make sure you don’t make mistakes. It will also help for site traffic. Every entry will have equal chances, so whether you’re first or last, your materials will be read and considered. Take a moment to screenshot the confirmation of your entry going through—whatever it may be. This is what mine looked like last year. No email, no giant flashing lights, just a short line of text, so pay close attention after you hit submit.

Capture7

 

August 29, 2018 (10PM EDT): Mentee Submission Window Closes

Once you’ve submitted, you’ll wait. And wait. The window will close, and you’ll wait some more. Interact with other Hopefuls and mentors on #PitchWars—the community is a wonderful thing. Keep an eye on your email, and try not to obsessively refresh it the way I did, but also make sure you don’t miss an important email. If mentors like your premise and sample pages, they MAY be in touch. I got several emails during the waiting period, but I’ve also heard of mentees being picked who never got a single email from their mentor prior to the announcements.

 

Have your full manuscript ready to send if a mentor requests it and label requested docs clearly. Mentors will probably be reading these on e-readers etc, so don’t label them “50 pages” or “full manuscript” because then they’ll have several docs with the same name. Try something like “Author Name TITLE full”, example “Raven IN THE NAME OF THE MOTHER full”. This way, the docs will be listed with your name and your manuscript title for easy reference. It’s probably wise to have a partial file as well, but these can vary widely, so it’s not essential. I prepped several versions to make it easier for myself, just in case, so you’re not scrambling and making mistakes when you get requests.

 

Some mentors also like to send a list of questions with their requests, so be prepared to answer these. This also varies widely, and is really up to the individual mentors, but think about things like, “why did you pick the mentor”, “what are your strengths/weaknesses”, “would you be open to making extensive changes to your manuscript”. You might also hear from mentors you did not submit to—as I did. This happens when a mentor sees potential in your work, but for whatever reason might not be willing/able to take you on as a mentee. They might send it to another mentor they think will be interested or a better fit, and that mentor is likely to contact you to find out if you’d be willing to partner with them.

 

October 12, 2018: Pitch Wars Mentees Announced

This is what it looked like back in 2017!

Honestly, this is a stressful and exhilarating day! The announcements go live, likely up on the website, listed with the chosen mentees and their mentors by age categories. The website has been known to crash due to the intense site traffic. Again, DO NOT PANIC! Last year, they released screenshots of the selected mentees via Twitter.

 

If you miss the announcement, it’s also okay because your mentor will probably send you an email to congratulate you and get in touch if you haven’t already chatted. Enjoy the moment if you are chosen. This is the time to celebrate before the work begins. Revel in it. If you’re not chosen, that’s okay, too. Allow yourself time to heal, and then get back to work, either by sending queries or re-evaluating your query/sample pages. And continue to chat to people on the #PitchWars hashtag. Many believe that the best part of this contest is the community, so meet those other lovely writers.

 

And if you’re chosen, the real work will begin October 13, 2018 or shortly thereafter. You and your mentor will decide how this works. Every pairing is different. But the basics are that you will probably get an edit letter after your mentor has had a chance to fully evaluate your full manuscript, or even in-line comments on your manuscript. Some mentors work in Google Docs, others via email. No matter what, this is where you’ll get stuck into those revisions, big or small, for the next couple of months. This year, they’ve changed the timeline, so you’ll have even more time to dig into your manuscript. You are likely to do more than one round of edits, so be prepared to work HARD! Pitch Wars is not known for being easy. It’s tough, but it will make you a better writer, especially if you get an extra special mentor.

 

Once you’re done with your revisions, or when you get closer to the agent showcase, you’ll also put together a pitch, along with a short excerpt taken from the first page of your manuscript. Most mentors help their mentees with the pitch and query letter. If you’re lucky, your mentor will also help you perfect your synopsis. Your pitch and excerpt will be sent to the Pitch Wars officials, who will then put it up on the website for the Agent Showcase. Here’s a look at mine from last year… and the link so you can see how this is set out/what is included…

Capture

 

February 6 – 11, 2019: Agent Showcase

February 6: Adult entries are live on the Pitch Wars site

February 7: MG entries are live on the Pitch Wars site

February 8: YA entries are live on the Pitch Wars site

 

Right, you’ve done all you can do. Depending on your age categories, your entry will go live. Again, the site will get a lot of traffic, and you’ll probably be advised to stay off it as much as possible, so that agents can access the entries. They’ll leave comments, requesting materials, which you will be able to send after the showcase. This can be a very, very stressful day. I’d suggest you either find a way to distract yourself, or take the day off so you can stress in peace (ha!) without worry about all the things you’re NOT doing.

 

If you’re lucky, that will not be the end of your Pitch Wars journey. I was incredibly fortunate. One of my requests from the Agent Showcase turned into an offer. My awesome mentor was there for me the entire way, and she helped me prep for The Call, and even now, almost a year later, I can still depend on her for any and all support. More than that, you will gain an amazing community of writers, friends, and critique partners.

 

So, that’s my take on the Pitch Wars schedule, and what is involved during each stage. If you want more details, one of the 2017 mentees created a Pitch Wars Survival Guide, and you can download that here.

 

Good luck! Interact with fellow writers, and don’t be shy to ask questions.

 

~Raven

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4 thoughts on “Pitch Wars from a 2017 mentee perspective…

  1. This contest fills me with a lot of hope! I want to enter this year and I have to finish my halfway done manuscript and edit it the best I can in a month to do it, but even if I don’t get picked. It’s an opportunity I do not want to miss!

    • There is so much to gain by participating–even if you don’t get picked. The community is incredibly supportive and full of knowledge. Good luck with your manuscript!

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