Hey, you. I see you sitting there (I can't actually see you, that would be creepy), wondering if #PitchWars is for you. You have a manuscript you've been working on, and a publishing dream. Do you enter the fray, hoping you'll snag one of the mentors (or co-mentor duos), and maybe, just maybe, an agent? Or, should you sit it out and see how you feel about it next year? There are plenty of reasons to sit it out, and many of them are valid: you don't have a finished manuscript; you don't have a finished manuscript; you don't have a finished...I think you get where I'm going here.
"But, still," you say, finished manuscript staring at you from your hard drive. <-If this is you, read on, writer!
I was just like you once. I had a finished manuscript. I had a dream. (Now I have a bunch more finished manuscripts, and more dreams...funny how those things multiply like plot bunnies). I've gone from being a #PitchWars hopeful to being a co-mentor with the fabulous Diana Gallagher (who was my mentor in 2014). And while there are reasons to step back and let #PitchWars pass you by, here are five reasons why you should give it a go.
- The worst that can happen is no.'No' hurts, and it sucks, and it makes you feel like the kid that's never picked for dodge ball. But a 'no' isn't the end of the world. Your writing career won't come to a crashing halt. Your hopes of landing an agent or a six-figure contract with a Big Important publisher aren't completely dashed. This is just one opportunity to get there, and sometimes it helps to get used to 'no' because there will be an awful lot of them on your journey.
Way back in 2013, I was on the fence about entering. But for whatever reason, I drafted up a query and decided to hit send. Spoiler alert: I got no requests. The worst that happened was no.
- Practice putting your work (and yourself) out there.Ultimately, if your goal is to have your work published, you should to get used to the idea of showing other people (especially strangers) your work. This is scary, because words are personal. But it's also necessary if you're longing for that coveted end cap display at Barnes and Noble. No one can read your words (which is the dream, right?) if you don't share them.
- Kick in the pants to get your stuff done.Unless you're on contract, and have a defined schedule to publication, writing is mostly an open-ended endeavor as far as timelines go. This can be tricky if you're prone to procrastination, or maybe the problem is you get to the 3/4 mark, and it languishes.
Setting personal goals and "due dates" can help keep your projects on track. It can give you something to work toward. August 2, 2017 is a great day to keep in mind. That's when the #PitchWars submission window opens. It's a little under 2 months away (based on the date of this post), so if you've been procrastinating or languishing, you now have an end goal to get you back on track.
- Learning what works and what doesn'tThere are so many different learning opportunities in #PitchWars, I could go on for days.
If you don't make it in: You'll be testing out your query to see if it resonates. You'll be seeing if your sample pages make a reader sit up and take notice. Many mentors generously offer some short feedback on why they passed (if they offer, take them up on it!). Follow the Twitter feed to see what common issues were so you can spruce up your writing.
If you do make it in: You'll be able to get a different perspective on your manuscript. You'll have a mentor who has faced many of the challenges you're facing. You'll learn how to take critiques and suggestions, and decide what works for you and your story.
Whatever happens, the important thing is that you will learn.
- CommunityThis is probably the most important reason to participate in #PitchWars, which is why I saved it for last. I have met so many fantastic through this contest. In 2013, I got passed over by the mentors, BUT I met one of my critique partners and a bunch of writing buddies who I still count as active supporters. In 2014, I ended up as an alternate, so I gained a fantastic mentor who has become an amazing critique partner and friend (and now co-mentor!!!!).
Writing is a pretty solitary endeavor most of the time, but it's fantastic to have a solid support system to help prop you up when the going gets tough and to be there to celebrate with you when you record a win. #PitchWars is a great way to build your network and connect with people who get what you're going through. You can interact on the hashtag to find CPs, beta readers, or even agent advice.
I want to wrap this post up by urging you to embrace the possibilities! #PitchWars is fantastic, and I am so grateful to be a co-mentor for the 2017 contest. Brenda Drake is unbelievable for organizing it. Please check out her website to learn more and support her!
If you want to reach out to me, please do! The comments are open below, and you can always find me on Twitter @KatrinaEmmel or shoot me an email at: katrinaemmelwrites @ gmail.com (without the spaces).