Picking an Agent (or #PW Mentor) To Query

Whether you’re querying PitchWars mentors tomorrow or literary agents on Friday, it’s best to do your homework first. Querying an agent (or mentor) simply because they represent your genre is the bare minimum to not get thrown into the trash in 0.005 seconds.

I know it’s hard to pick — and harder yet not to get emotionally invested in a person who knows nothing about you.

I’ve talked a lot about picking agents and my own pitchWars experiences. From querying agents and mentors, here’s a list of my biggest tips.

2 Things NOT To Do To An Agent/Mentor

  1. Do Not Stalk Them.

    As I’ve mentioned before, do not stalk agents or mentors. Do not go through their facebook/instagram feed and like everything they’ve posted for the last five years, scour their photos to find out their favorite foods, their friends, vacation places. Don’t Do It.
  2. Do Not Rules Lawyer Their “No Thanks” Lists

    Some agents or mentors mention things they want A, B, and C. But never Z. And you have A, B, C, and Z. They’d be perfect except for that last thing!

    I can promise you, they do not want you messaging them asking if off-screen Z counts. Or, yes, they have Z, but it’s not that explicit.

    Imagine saying you hate dogs and then your inbox gets flooded with dog pictures asking if this one is allowed because of whatever excuse. You’re now flooding them with exactly what they asked NOT to get.

5 Things To Help You Select An Agent/Mentor

  1. Read their wish lists
    – on their bios
    – profiles
    – on #mswl/www.manuscriptwishlist.com
  2. Read their don’t want lists
    – Then REMOVE from your list of agents/mentors to query if you have a match. No matter what.
  3. Read their twitter feed
    – see if their personality seems like a good fit
  4. Examine their bio
    – see what sort of agent/mentor they are (editorial/big picture/etc)
    – what experience they have
    – what sort of publishing experience/connections they have
    REMEMBER – This is a two way process. It’s not just “do I have what they’re looking for”, it’s also, “do they have what I’m looking for”.
  5. Check out their list of favorite books
    – if those books would be a great comp for your novel, or are evocative of your tone? That’s pretty promising!

Querying is scary and intimidating. It can be easy to stall by doing your research… FOREVER. But, eventually, you have to query or move on.

All you can do is your best. Then, it’s out of your hands.

Best of luck to all of you out there in the querying trenches — with agents or PitchWars!

Let me know what you’re querying!
Let me know if you’re a pitchWars hopeful.

And link your social media below. I love connecting with other querying (and beyond!) writers.

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?)