Waiting For Rejection…Or Selection!

As Writers, We Spend A Lot of Time Waiting

Tomorrow, after weeks and weeks, the mentees for PitchWars 2018 will be announced. I didn’t enter this year, but I have many friends who did. (Best of luck!)

Meanwhile, in the next week or so, I’ll find out if my panel submissions from last month, for World Fantasy Con, appealed to the schedule coordination team.

And sometime, in the short term future, I’ll hear back from the agent who requested my full (manuscript) a couple months ago.

You know? As a writer, I’ve pretty much always got at least one project going, or at least projects I could be working on. Even when I’m not in the middle of one story, I’m either planning my next story, editing my old ones, or beta-reading for my critique partners. So, you’d think with all this activity, I wouldn’t notice how much time I spend waiting.

Half in terror, half in hope. Will I be found worthy?

And, the strange part is, I’m a little bit scared either way.

It makes sense to fear rejection.

Rejection hurts.

Your work, that you’ve poured your hopes and dreams into for months or years has been measured, weighed, and found wanting.

It’s easy to blame:

  • your query
  • your writing
  • your plotting
  • your incorrect read on the actual tastes of the mentor/agent/Editor/etc you submitted to
  • or — you know — maybe it’s just the market

It can feel like you’re never going to find someone to believe in you–who can actually take you to that next level, careerwise.

For those panels I submitted? There are famous authors, professional editors of publishing houses, and quality agents on their panels.

  • What makes me feel that I’m qualified to talk as if I were an actual professional?
  • I didn’t know who to submit with me
    • maybe they won’t put my panel suggestions on the schedule because they don’t know who else to put on the panel
    • they’d rather not have a ‘panel’ turn into a lecture/Q&A session with a no name.

For those of you querying agents, I know your fears.

  • Silence
  • Form rejection letters
  • Requests from agents that leave the industry before responding
  • Rejected R&Rs (revise and resubmit letters)

But. There’s another side to our fears.

What If I *Am* Selected?

For those of you PitchWars hopefuls — the ones still clinging to hope — I know your fears.

  • What if you ARE selected and you can’t measure up?
  • Why you, when you see so many other talented writers that didn’t get selected?
  • What if you work as hard as you can, do everything you’re asked, and the agents still ignore you?

The mentor saw something in you, saw something they knew how to fix in your manuscript, and either way, your story will improve and you’ll have learned so much!

If you get an agent, I know those fears, too.

  • What if the agent can’t find a publisher?
  • What if you’ve chosen a bad agent who neglects you?
  • What if your agent doesn’t ‘get’ your story and tries to change it into something else?
  • What if your agent leaves the industry and you’re dumped back into the cold-query piles?

And for me? With those panels potentially at the end of the month?

  • What if I get up there and talk over all the experienced panelists?
    • (I know me. I wish I’d be tongue-tied, but I tend to babble when nervous)
  • What if I *am* the only panelist?
  • What if I can’t gather my thoughts and sound like a fool?
  • What if there are belligerent panelists who antagonize me?

It’s easy to make lists of fears. But eventually, most of them boil down to one thing, and one thing only:

Facing Impostor Syndrome

Getting to the next stage in our writing careers is a great recipe for Impostor Syndrome. And the only way past that is to fake-it-til-you-make-it.

Prepare as hard as you can, do your homework, and try your best.

And in the meantime, finish editing that thing you were working on.


Thanks for reading and wish me luck!

I’m wishing all of you the BEST of luck, with your PitchWars or agent or publisher queries and submissions.

P.S. Let me know I’m not alone in these fears, that I’m not just projecting my fears on the rest of you.

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PitchWars? Not For Me, This Year.

Sitting This One Out

For the first time since I found the PitchWars community, I’m really not entering.

Between work stress, life stress, and not having anything new, it’s just not going to happen for me this year.

I haven’t even looked at any of the blogs in the mentor blog-hop.

I mean, I haven’t put away the manuscript I submitted both of the last two years, but it’s just getting minor tweaks between rounds of queries.

And it’s not that I stopped writing. I’ve mentioned that middle-grade adventure that I’m almost excited about.

Yet, here I am, listening to my writer groups filled with people all their nervous and excited and stressing over mentors, reminding me the time when my manuscript was new and shiny and full of hope. Before I had to polish the smudges weekly to see that hope shine back at me.

creepy let me in GIF by Team Coco


Are you entering PitchWars?

I wish you all the best. That your manuscript starts to shine.

I hope you can find the right mentor, the one that gets your story and knows exactly what it needs to grow. Better pacing? New plot twists? Cutting characters?

A lot of work is in store for those that are chosen.

For those of you that aren’t?

New beta-readers and critique partners await, with writing boot camps and editing methodologies ready to be selected.

Your manuscript is ready to level up.


But for me? I just feel tired.

 

adorable animal basket cuddly

Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com


Are you writing a story? Where are you in the process?

Plotting? Writing? Editing? Polishing?

If you’re doing PitchWars, tell me about your story!

The PitchWars Community And Me

If you’re not a writer in the Twittersphere, particularly a young adult, or perhaps middle grade or adult novelist, you may not have heard of PitchWars.

What Is PitchWars?

#PitchWars is a writing competition – where instead of bragging rights (that agents might not even care about), the prizes are a 3-month mentorship by an agented author and a lot of visibility to agents who are signed up for the pitch round at the end.

The Mentors

On Tuesday, the mentor blog-hop officially began. (As usual, they slipped the link up a day early). All the mentors’ blogs now have their wishlists — and what they have to offer. From their editing or publishing experience, to their tastes in novels, to their critiquing style, this is where you go to decide who has the personality and skills to level your book up and make it agent-worthy.

As you can only submit to 4 mentors, you have to make sure you pick the right ones for you and your story.

The Novels

This opportunity is for finished novels that are ready to query — or maybe you’ve already been querying and haven’t gotten as many nibbles as you’d like and you can’t figure out what’s wrong.

This is not for that rough draft you ran through spell-check. You’ve got to up your game!

The Community

For many, getting selected will improve their book, but nothing guarantees an agent. And an agent doesn’t guarantee that your book will be published.

There are thousands of PitchWars hopefuls, and 107 mentors (or mentor-pairs). The odds are pretty slim of being selected, but there’s always hope.

But, for many, the main draw of PitchWars is the community. From the forums on the website, to ‘BootCamp’ workouts provided to hopefuls to prepare themselves, to Twitter chatter, to Facebook, PitchWars has a way of taking an isolating dream and connecting writers with others at the same stage of their career.

There are tons of writers out there. Some, struggling to find the time or the words to finish a scene. Others dealing with a million ideas and fleeting focus. While others are published and working on that all-important second book.

But, through PitchWars, you can meet people with finished, polished manuscripts who are dreaming-the-dream.

Morgan and PitchWars

3 years ago, I came across the #pitmad twitter contest. Back when it was 140 characters to try and entice an agent to ‘like your tweet’ – and thereby request a query. And I saw that the next event was “#pitchwars”. I thought it was going to be another twitter contest and put it on my calendar.

As the time grew near, I double-checked the details and panicked. With 3 days to go before they started accepting manuscripts, I tore through the blog hop, and dove into the PitchWars community, whole-heartedly.

Two days later, I found myself an admin of a Facebook PitchWars Young Adult Hopefuls Support Group.

In PitchWars itself? I didn’t get a single request. At the end, I wasn’t selected, but I did win a 1st chapter, query, and synopsis critique from one of the mentors I’d submitted to. With her help, I reworked my manuscript that next Spring. Then I just started querying agents.

Then Pitch Wars rolled around again. I took a look at the mentors, trying to help my YA group find ones that suited them.

And I saw some asking for novels that sounded like mine, with books listed that reminded me of mine. (My queries having mostly resulted in form-rejections didn’t hurt) So, last summer, I submitted again.

No nibbles.

I like to tell myself that my writing is good and they just didn’t know how to fix my novel. Mine’s unique but not a sure stand-out. That there were other submissions that they knew just how to fix.

So, here I am, looking at my 3rd PitchWars. My only polished manuscript is that same one the mentors have rejected twice.

(Not that I haven’t been writing. But, 2 rough drafts and a chapter of a 3rd manuscript aren’t PitchWars material.) I intend to sit this one out.

I’ve been querying and tweaking, querying and editing all along. I’ve gotten a few nibbles from agents, but so far, no takers.

The PitchWars Support Groups

It’s been 3 years and now I’m a Facebook admin for the main PITCHWARRIORS Support Group, the YA Support Group, and the PW Query Club — for past hopefuls (or mentees) who are querying AGENTS, not MENTORS to talk about rejection, requests, and The Call.

(I might have a slight addiction to FacebookGroups. Or compartmentalizing conversations so people who aren’t in the midst of an activity aren’t subjected to a feed full of writing/PitchWars/query chatter.)

And the Support groups don’t just sit around, collecting dust during the off-season. There’s a question-a-(week)day, encouragement, critique exchanges, and a place to vent to people who understand just what you’re going through.

Plus? One of the things I try to do for the groups is to make them a safe place.

(As always, it’s the internet, so nothing is 100, and the groups are open to any who are planning to or have already participated in PitchWars. The only people who are categorically forbidden are mentors.)

Because I like the support groups to be places where people can talk and vent and learn what is and isn’t appropriate to say online. To learn how to be professional as a writer without making a mistake in the heat of the moment that goes viral on twitter, destroys your reputation, and/or offends the very people that you want to love your work.

With members from 16 through retirement age, some are slower at learning why they should meet professional expectations.

But the real reason to join?

Friendship is Magical

Through the group, many people have found new beta readers, new critique partners, and new besties.

Honestly, the friendships and the support network that you can create by joining the PitchWars community can be an invaluable support — both emotionally and for your writing skills.

Even after you’ve stopped participating in the contest.


❤ Best of luck to ALL my PitchWars Hopefuls – past, present, and future. ❤

(Hmm, maybe someone new will be looking for my manuscript this year?)

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?

Vlog: 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.