And that’s it!
2016 Pitch Wars picks have been announced! Woohoo!
Huge congratulations to the mentee/mentor matches. From all of us, we wish you luck and send writing power your way!
But for those of you who didn’t make it, this blog is for you. Actually, scrap that. This blog is for any writer out there, now and in the future, who has been knocked back, rejected, or just didn’t get the feedback they were hoping for.
Right now, you might not want to hear it, and that’s just cool. But, bookmark this page, because what follows is advice and wise words that you surely need to hear and absorb. Not one writer on this planet, and maybe others too, hasn’t been knocked back at some point in their career, and who are likely to be knocked back again in the future. We’re in this together. Remember that.
‘It's okay to feel disappointed, but don't stay there. You are still a writer, and your stories are still awesome. This is one step in a really long journey to get published. So eat ice-cream, drink wine, go for a run, binge watch Vikings (that might just be me!)... do whatever you need to do. Then wake up tomorrow and make a new plan to get your book into the world.’
– Scarlett Cole
‘I know it doesn't feel that way, but not getting picked really isn't a rejection. We only get to pick one entry, and most of us loved more than that. Not getting picked for Pitch Wars doesn't define you, but how you react/respond could.
Also: PitchSlam starts 9/8, so send your entry for feedback on your query and pitch!’
Also: PitchSlam starts 9/8, so send your entry for feedback on your query and pitch!’
– Laura Heffernan
‘Everyone has a story worth telling, but not every path to publication is the same. Not getting into one contest doesn't change the fact that you still have a story to tell, it just means that contest won't form part of your particular journey. But there are still numerous other ways to get there. So pause for a moment to regroup if you need to, eat some cake and/or low-fat pickles (or both), binge watch your favorite TV show, and then take the next step, whatever that might be. Because the only way to get there is to keep moving forward.’
– Wade Albert White
‘I didn't get into PitchWars, but I got "the call" the day after mentees were announced. Every journey is unique--don't let this one contest define you (especially because it's so highly subjective). Gather what feedback you can, solidify relationships with friends and CPs you've gained along the way, and most important of all--don't give up. (Also: kidlit writers should keep an eye on The Winged Pen for another opportunity to obtain feedback)’
– Jessica Vitalis
‘I didn't get into PitchWars my first year, but I didn't let that stop me. I revised my MS and went on to query it. By next year, I didn't think that MS was going anymore so I entered PW again — with a new MS. I got a couple requests frommentors that time around, but I had to pull my MS from consideration because I ended up getting an offer on the Contemporary YA I entered in PW the first time (ended up with two offers even!). Most journeys don't happen over night. Most take a while. As long as you stick with it, you'll get there. A lot of us mentors took multiple MSs to land an agent — and then multiple MSs on submission to land a book deal. Not getting into PW with your MS this year is NOT a reflection on your abilities or the quality of your book.’
– Kim Graff
‘When I didn't get into PW in '14. I felt horrible, that no one would ever love my MS. But a friend reminded me that this is just one tiny bump in the road. Take the time you need to mourn, but don't let one contest define your career. Don't let it define YOU. There are multiple ways to get your book out there. Reread your MS one more time, get some trusted CPs to help you with your query, and send your baby out into the world widely. The right agent or publisher will love it as much as you do.’
– Marty Mayberry
‘It hurts not to get in. We feel for you. Remember what you love about writing, what makes those hours pleasurable. Hold on to that joy. Nothing else matters - not getting an agent, not getting published. Just the delight you find along the way. Hang in there.’
– Carrie Callaghan
‘We know how it feels to not be picked- for contests, for agent requests, for publishers. It's normal to be disappointed. But use what you have learned and keep writing. Keep fine-tuning your #PitchWars project, keep percolating new ideas, keep putting words down. Remember how subjective this industry is. If you keep writing, you are guaranteed to not fail, because you are doing what you love.’
– Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
‘Not getting picked for PW doesn't reflect on you as a writer. It's that dreaded word you will continue to hear in this industry. Subjectivity. Take what you have learned in this experience and KEEP WRITING. Keep moving forward. I've been "rejected" for more contests than I can count on one hand. What did I do? I worked on my craft, reached out to other writers, and learned as much as I could. Don't give up, because your moment may be right around the corner!’
– Monica Hoffman
‘ I wanted to cuddle so many entries. The concepts in my inbox were amazing. You are such a talented bunch. Some of my closest writing friends were people I met through Pitch Wars, and that’s been the biggest win of all. Stay in touch with the Pitch Wars community because the support lasts more than once a year.’
– Sharon M. Johnston
‘There is success in having the courage to share your work. Finishing a book is an amazing accomplishment and one that you should be very proud of. Take these next months to polish your story and then get back out there. There are many paths to publishing. You just have to find yours!’
– Amy Trueblood
‘I've judged a lot of contests over the past few years through Romance Writers and have read hundreds of queries from PItch Madness, Pitch Wars, and a few other blog contests. This was the best bunch of queries and entries I've seen yet. Be proud of where you are. So many writers have no idea where to start, or never finish even one draft. Each step you make in this journey matters.’
– Stephanie Scott
‘PitchWars is just one contest, one option, among many. I didn't get in either time I entered, and landed my agent a month after the announcement last year. Because we can each only accept one mentee, we have to be super subjective. This means passing over excellent entries. If you don't get in, all it means is that this isn't your path. Take whatever time you need, but dust yourself off and keep going, because you will get there, but only if you keep fighting for it.
– Laura Brown
‘I pitched for PW twice, wasn't picked but made some amazing writer friends, wrote a new book, got an agent and deal and am now a mentor! PW is an amazing opportunity and contest but that is all it is--it isn't the only way in! This industry is full of rejection and you need a thick skin and to believe in your writing. Keep writing and keep going!’
– Katie Webber Tsang
‘I wish I could squishy hug everyone who needs it! This is such a tough business because we put so much of ourselves into our work. And putting yourself out there like that takes such courage. Don't let a bump in the road send you into hiding. We need everyone in this industry! All of our beautiful differences and points of view make it a rich and wonderful world. So lean on each other. Lean on me. Keep trying, and keep putting yourself and your words out there. The community of writers I found through PW is the reason I'm still writing. Hold onto your people, and keep going.’
– Summer Spence
‘The most important thing to remember is not getting into Pitch Wars has ZERO bearing on whether you will be a published author one day! Don't let discouragement steal your joy of writing because this industry favors grit and persistence and you will get there if you make the choice to use every no as an alignment instead of a rejection.’
– Destiny Cole
‘Right now, it’s okay to feel low. Cry if you want, eat carbs if you really have to, but don’t take too long about it because you have amazing stories inside you. Pull on the passion you have for the written word. Let your heart bleed, then pick up your pen or laptop, and get back at it. You’ve merely run into a rock, don’t allow it to become a wall. Success awaits, go find it.’
– E.L. Wicker
‘I didn't get into PitchWars the first time I tried. After I squeaked in the second time, it still took a year, and more revising, before I was offered rep. Being a writer is a lifestyle choice. Do what you do, and persist in it. We all get down--let there be no doubt, but try and recognize that it will pass. The only things you have some control over, really, are your books. That doesn't change regardless of which part of the journey you're on. You write. Do that some more.’
– Gabrielle K. Byrne
‘Be there for each other...listen, learn, read, write, cp and beta read, immerse yourself not only in your writing but in the writing community. It's the best around! It's not perfect, but strive to make it even better with your words, your wisdom, your heart. And know we're all here for you!’
– Shari Schwarz
‘Subjectivity is truly a motherfucker. But it's one you cannot take personally. The tough part about business meeting passion, like writing or most other arts, is that it's harder to separate ourselves from our work because we put so damn much of ourselves into it. It can feel like YOU are being rejected when that's not the case at all. Contests, agents, editors, readers, this aspect of the business isn't going to go away and you need to know that you're a badass for not only completing a book but for putting yourself out there. For most submissions I received, I could see a spot on my bookshelves for them--but not a way to make them better. That's a good thing! Pitchwars was AN opportunity, not THE opportunity. Keep going. I want to see your books on my shelves.’
– Tamara Mataya
‘Agents and publishers aren't limited to one pick! I loved so many that I couldn't choose. There are a couple of mentors this year that I passed on in 2015. It didn't stop them and it won't stop you! Almost every successful author you know, did not get there via Pitch Wars. Keep writing, keep submitting and keep believing!’
– Lisa Tyre
‘All the mentors started out without agents or publishing deals and had to climb each rung on the ladder. Every writer has their own ladder and some may be easier than others. Focus on writing the story that pleases you and don't worry about agents or deadlines or what rung you're standing on.’
– Michelle Hauck
‘So, you didn’t get picked, and that sucks. But, to tell you the truth, I identify more with you than my mentee. Because I am you.
I entered Pitch Wars in 2013 with a now-trunked YA fantasy. I got a partial request (three chapters), and that was it. And, the request was from an Adult mentor. Did I neglect to mention I had no idea if I’d written a YA or Adult so I subbed to two mentors in each category? (BTW, this was before Brenda tracked such a thing. Now, that is strictly prohibited.)
Here’s also what I didn’t know in 2013: What CPs were. What betas were. What an appropriate word count was for my manuscript. That a YA with a female protagonist should include some kind of romantic element. That YA fantasy based in typical “medieval” type worlds with fairies and prophecies and dragons was a hard sell.
I queried that YA, revised, queried, revised, queried, revised. A few partial requests from agents. Nothing exciting. I had entered some other contests in 2013, and I entered a few more in 2014, and never got chosen for anything.
In the meantime, I started another book, an MG this time, about an idea I couldn’t get out of my head. See, the thing about all those unsuccessful contests is that I saw what was getting picked (need to have a hook, something that makes your manuscript completely original), I found resources on the craft of writing, and I saw what a successful query looked like.
In other words, I got better. I entered Query Kombat in 2014 with that MG, and I made it to the agent round. Guess what happened there? Three requests. One agent I never heard from, one rejected my manuscript in 24 hours, and the other rejected within a week. Depressing? Not really. Because that contest is where I found my CPs and betas, and they read that MG, offered suggestions, and after revising I sent out my queries, which led to full requests, which led to my agent in November 2014.
Oh, and did I mention that I entered that MG in Pitch Wars 2014 and got no requests? Yep. Zero.
So, let’s circle back around. It’s the day after Pitch Wars 2016 announcements, and you didn’t get in. That sucks. But it doesn’t have to. Maybe you’re the me of 2013 and need to learn the craft and learn the market for your age category and then put that knowledge to work on a new manuscript. Or, maybe you’re the me of early 2014 who finds CPs, betas, and learns how to apply those revisions to your manuscript. Or, maybe you’re the me of late 2014, confident in her query, confident in her manuscript, doesn’t get any requests in Pitch Wars, but queries and finds her agent through that process.
This writing thing really is a journey. You learn along the way. I’m still learning as I go because it doesn’t end in a pot of gold when you get an agent. You have to write that new thing whether you sell your first thing or not. You have to keep getting better. You should want to keep getting better.
And that’s what you do here. You look at your manuscript, figure out where you are in the process, and do what you have to do to get to that next level. Pitch Wars 2016 is but one teensy way to get an agent, one stop on this journey. Take it for what it is, and keep going. We’re all on this journey with you.
– Kim Long
‘Know that whatever you feel right now is appropriate and right. If you weren't chosen as a mentee, and you feel down and awful because of it, let yourself feel that. If you feel compelled to jump into edits and are excited, let yourself feel that. If you want to set your MS on fire, let yourself feel that too (just umm, don't actually set your computer on fire). Feel the feels, and then come out the other side ready to focus and put the work in. Also, know that all of us in the PW community are here for you <3'
– Juliana Brandt
‘In 2014 I got zero requests. I got less than zero requests. I knew in 2 days that I wasn't getting in to Pitch Wars. One of the mentors who didn't select me? Dan Koboldt, my co-mentor and critique partner. I'm represented by the best agent I could hope for. The only thing that matters is what you do next. ‘
– Michael Mammy
‘All the mentors chose their mentees for their individual teams, but there’s another team called Team Pitch Wars that lasts forever, and everyone makes it in!’
– Kate Foster