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?

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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: 10 Questions To Ask Your Beta-Readers

Since this week’s blog post is 90% vacation photos and stats, this week’s vlog post is a site favorite, from before I started Vlogging.

Iceland, Finland, and WorldCon 75

I’m back.

I’ve had three full days in Iceland, four flights, and five days of WorldCon in Helsinki, Finland.

I tasted whale, puffin, and reindeer.

I saw two hot springs, three waterfalls, about 8 geysers. (I fell in love with Iceland’s Gullfoss waterfall. It’s now my favorite place on earth.)

I saw where the North American tectonic plate is pulling away from the Eurasian plate at the site of the Thingvellir. I saw artifacts from 1000 BC, archeological sites, and churches. I climbed a mountain.

I took 73 pages of notes over four workshops and seventeen panels. I spent 21 hours in panels and workshops and very likely 20 hours in queues. I dubbed 478 pictures ‘worth keeping’ and 7 videos (see my facebook and Instagram for most of these).

On the four planes, I read three-and-a-half books, took two one-hour naps, and watched one movie.

My biggest takeaways

  • Iceland was amazing, primitive, and beautiful.
  • Helsinki was welcoming, clean, and easy to navigate.
  • WorldCon was popular, had excellent speakers, and was full of new friends.

Over the next month or so, I’ll be sharing my notes from most of the panels. Some were presentations or workshops that I consider proprietary to the speaker and those I’ll limit my remark on.

My 3 Favorite Writing Epiphanies/Quotes:

  1. If you remember all the things that make listening to a book-reading enjoyable and apply it to your writing? It becomes lyrical! I always thought lyrical just wasn’t a type of writing I could do, but when you consider rhythm, repetition, and pace? Evocative lyrical writing can happen, even to me.
  2. I’m a lay person, but I know a decent amount about weaponry and injuries. One of the panels had an excellent break down of weapons and the injuries that sort of weapon creates that just organized it perfectly for my writer-brain with an ‘if X, then Y’ sort of connection.
  3. When Connie Willis was quoted for killing characters that are too uppity (by not cooperating with her plot), George RR Martin gasped, “Killing your characters? How Horrible!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.