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.

Vlog: A Message To My Fellow #PitchWars Hopefuls

Best of luck to all of you! In #PitchWars and Beyond!

A Message to My Fellow PitchWars Hopefuls

Most of you know that I’m involved with the PitchWarriors community*. I help run 2 Facebook support groups: One general group, and one group specifically for YA writers. This post is for them.

Some of you are new to PitchWars and some of you have been here before.

Some of you are new to the support groups and the network — even if you pitched to PitchWars before, and some of you have been critiquing and learning with each other for years.

Some of you eagerly sent off your newly polished draft that you started in early this year and some of you are anxious to find out how to fix that novel you’ve been reworking for ten years.

Your nerves are shot. You’re trying not to get your hopes up, but you really think this manuscript might be the one and you’re praying to everything you believe in that you picked the right mentors to submit your manuscript to.

That among the mentors you queried is THE MENTOR.


The mentor that will see the heart of your story, who will read your pages and just can’t bring themselves to walk away. The mentor who sees what’s holding your manuscript back from being the legendary thing you know it can grow into. The mentor who knows just what you need to get it there.

You’re hoping for the mentor who not only gets your novel but gets YOU. Who becomes your friend, your cheerleader, and the harshest-kindest taskmaster as you prepare your novel.

The mentor who crushes your manuscript of coal, who drives you harder than you’ve ever worked before, who helps reveal the diamond it was destined to be, letting it glimmer before the agents.


Waiting is hard. You hear rumors of people getting asked for more pages, synopsis, or more (but people stay discrete). You see tweets with teasers about everyone else’s stories.

You second guess yourself. Should you have chosen that other mentor? Should you have written THIS thing instead of THAT thing? Maybe your query should have been that OTHER style.

In the end, some of you will be selected and some of you won’t.

It hurts.


I know this personally.

I will be excited for everyone who is selected.

I will be So. Very. Proud. of all of my writers from my PitchWars support groups who have helped each other grow, who I’ve watched learn and blossom as writers.


And after the selections?

I know that those who are selected will be excited and nervous and maybe, just maybe, suffering a touch of survivor’s guilt or impostor syndrome, that you made it when all those other writers you know and love didn’t. But you’ve got a spark and the mentor who selected you knows just what you need.

I know that those who are not selected will be excited for their friends. And they will hurt.

Some will feel the energy of all those fellow writers revising, will look around and decide, “I didn’t get chosen, but I choose to go on!” And they will find Critique Partners and revise and push forward, to see what they can achieve without a mentor, just by leaning on each other. And I will cheer you on.

Some will decide it was a sign that they need to stop polishing their novel and put it out there. It’s time for them to query agents. And I wish them the best of luck!

Some will decide that the traditional route is not for them and self-publishing is where it’s at. And I wish them amazing sales!

Some will need to take time away, to heal, to recover from their disappointment. And that’s okay.

But no matter what? You’ve done it.

You wrote a novel. You plotted, revised, and polished that sucker.

All those people out there, just talking about their big idea, the story they want to write, or want someone else to write for them? You’ve done what they only talk of.

Once a PitchWarrior, ALWAYS a PitchWarrior.

Go. Write. Polish. Publish.

I wish you all the best of luck, in pitchWars and beyond.

PitchWars is Coming! #PimpMyBio

Welcome to my All-About-Me blogpost. As we hit July, we’re coming up close to my 1 year anniversary of joining the PitchWarrior-hopefuls-club!* Another round of PitchWars is almost upon us, so it’s time for me to tell update you about me and my current project. Since PitchWars seems partial to gifs, this is a gif-ier post than I usually do, but have at!

My lair has more books and less gold than Smaugs…

My name is Morgan and I write YA Fantasy from my lair in Northern Virginia. (Well, at least right now I’m writing YA, who knows what it will be next time.) By day, I write software, by night I write novels and blog my adventures and writing tips here as I glean them on my journey towards publication. Plus, I just started putting some of my blogposts on YouTube. (THAT was pretty intimidating)

I help run 2 facebook support groups for PitchWarriors past and present. I like to think I represent the writing extrovert (or at least, the writing ambivert).

PITCHWARRIORS and the PitchWars YA Subgroup

Both groups are active, friendly, and happy to help their fellow competitors/writers.** It’s an amazing thing, being able to talk to people at the same stage in their writing careers. People who know the struggle of FINISHING a novel and REVISING it. People who have done their research about how to query, and have ended up alongside you on this journey.

I’ve attended Balticon, DragonCon, InterventionCon, and the Steampunk World’s Fair,  attending up to 20 hours of panels on writing, editing, and publishing per long weekend. Most of my notes end up in my blog. While at conventions, I’ve been known to cosplay. Especially bad puns. I also worked with the webcomic guests at the anime convention KatsuCon for 6 years, partially to feed my webcomic addiction.

Go Team Mystic!

When I’m not doing something writing related, I lend my voice to the folktale podcast, Anansi Storytime. In my (hahaha! Imaginary) spare time, I like taking long Pokewalks, taking pictures of nature, and pretending I’m actually going to start going back to the gym again. I’m also a gamer (although, I’m down to 1 monthly D&D game). Oh, and of course I enjoy watching TV with my friends. Currently, we’re watching ‘Supernatural’ and ‘Grace and Frankie’. Recently watched were ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’, ‘Gilmore Girls’, and we’re a few season behind on ‘Lost Girl’ and ‘Once Upon A Time.


Morgan & her twin

I come from a family of Science Fiction and Fantasy readers. My dad’s heavily involved in fandom and is an aspiring writer himself. Meanwhile, my mother was a high school librarian for nearly 30 years and these days works on her massive to-read pile–when it’s not raid night #Alliance. One fun fact about me, I’m an identical twin. She’s not a writer, but she does help manage a local library!

My current project is FLESH AND INK, a matriarchal mash-up between The Golden Compass and the movie Frozen, with a hint of Avatar.

Lilyen loves her apprenticeship as a religious inker-of-flesh, even if it’s nothing compared to her little sister’s prestigious scholarship to the holy Domina’s Academy. But Lilyen’s years of training are jeopardized when her father spots her demon-stains—blue demonic letters that should only appear on those who’ve consorted with demons.

If the church finds out, they’ll kill her and sentence her family to twenty years of hard service, destroying her sister’s future. Lilyen flees her home before risking anyone else, desperately following rumors of others like her—demon-stained exiles living in hiding.

Things I love about FLESH AND INK:

  • Lilyen’s unwavering faith in her Goddess. Even as her church/country hunts her, even as she learns about the church’s lies, even when she learns what they’ve been doing to her sister, she recognizes the fallible state of humanity.
  • The world and the magic. How the elements correlate to each other and to the world.
  • Finding ways to play with patriarchal norms that we don’t even notice.
  • The way sexual orientation in my world isn’t either/or, it’s about the person.
  • That, while my story includes love interest(s), they’re a side issue, not the drive of the story.
  • The technological level. I envision it as a sort of anime level (think almost Miyazaki’s films: The Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke), (elemental powered) trains, bikes, but no phones, no weapons of mass destruction.)

P.S. Hufflepuff, because you can be clever, ambitious, and brave, but it’s best when you put people before ideals.


PitchWars is an annual contest, run by the amazing Brenda Drake, that takes authors who are polishing their novels for that all-important agent query, and pairs them with mentors! If selected, in 2 months, the mentees will completely revamp their novels, making it ready in time for the Agent Round, where real agents read their queries and first pages and potentially make offers!  Last year, I was not selected, but I did find a wonderful group of supportive writers!

**  Feel free to join, but send me or one of the other admins a note, especially if your account is private, so we can verify you aren’t a spam account!