PitchWars Versus The Publishing Industry

I’m writing this on the eve of the PitchWars announcements. Nerves are high, and sometime shortly, (maybe even before this post is up), we’ll know who made it. No matter what happens, just remember how far you’ve come.

PitchWars is a microcosm of the publishing world.

They’ve reminded us so many times it almost sounds trite, but it’s true. The parallels seem obvious when you look.

The Things We’ve Learned

Avoiding Query Swarms

Rather than sending queries to every single agent, we’ve learned to assess the mentors’ likes, dislikes, and personalities. Mentors that could see WHY we selected them were more likely to read more pages. Same with agents. No one wants a form letter.

The Sound Of Silence

Some agents state how long you should wait to hear back, while others let you know that ‘no answer means no thank you.’ In PitchWars, we’ve been given the brief 3 week waiting period until they’ll announce the winners, but for everyone who didn’t win, it’s the nearly-standard: ‘no answer means no thank you.’

Time To Get Personal

Some agents send personalized rejection letters on queries, more only send personalized rejections for full requests. In PitchWars, some mentors offer feedback to all who query (or specifically asked). Some offer it only for those they requested full manuscripts from. And some just don’t have the time for any.

Something like this. But not.

Some agents send revise-and-resubmit emails. From what I’ve heard, some mentors did as well. But in both cases? Revision doesn’t guarantee selection.

How Many Pages?

Some agents take you on and give you massive edit letters, some give shorter, but no less nuanced edit letters. Mentors are the same way.

This Little Piggy Went to the Market and This Little Piggy Did Not

Some agents love your story but don’t feel there’s a market for it right now. Some mentors are the same.

In the Looking Glass

Some agents love your story, but they JUST took on one in the same genre and don’t want to compete against themselves for a publisher. Similarly, some mentors are wary of mentoring a story too similar to their own.

Missing Ingredients

Some agents almost love your story but think it’s missing something and don’t know quite what it is. Some mentors have told us they pass for that same reason.

Nothing Stands In Your Way

While querying agents, there is nothing stopping you from querying any agent (that is open for submissions in your genre) you want. If you weren’t chosen by a mentor, there’s nothing stopping you from querying agents, NOW!

No Guarantees

Getting an agent is no guarantee for getting a publisher. Getting a mentor is no guarantee for getting an agent.

Opening Doors

Getting an agent can open doors that publisher/editor slush piles don’t. Getting a mentor can open doors, too. Just participating in the PitchWars community can open doors, if not to a published novel, then to a community full of support.

Publishing moves slowly. There is so much hurry up and wait. Luckily, you’ve got that other manuscript to work on, right?


  1. I’m still at work and haven’t been able to view all of the category selections, hope you made it in!

    I’m still dealing with the disappointment of not being selected. I received requests from two mentors this year, after receiving none in each of the last two years, so in one way I feel like I had a successful Pitch Wars, but the end result was the same. I going to do another round of revisions before querying, and enter some other upcoming contests as well as taking part in PitMad.


      1. If your book was YA, there were so many of those it would be easy to get overlooked. I’m doing another revision pass and planning to send a few queries out after PitMad next week. Good luck!


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