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.

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.