Pitch Wars is an annual event run by Brenda Drake which offers aspiring authors the opportunity to work with a mentor on their manuscripts and showcase these to prospective agents at the end of the mentoring process. I first gave it a try last year and, although I didn’t get any requests from prospective mentors I did find it an interesting experience. For that reason, and slightly wiser about the process, I decided to give it another go in 2020.
Last year I tried with one of my kid’s books but this time I decided to give the adult market a try with my thriller, the one that keeps coming oh – so close – but has so far failed to find a home – certainly in the UK market. But the US market is a different beast. My main concern with my writing is that it’s too European for the US. But you never know if you don’t try. I may not have been picked as a mentee, but all in all the experience was a very positive one.
So here are a few tips for anyone else planning on participating in Pitch Wars in future.
1. Nail the Query Letter
Different mentors approach reading their submissions in different ways. Some read
the pages first but some do a first pass based on the query letters, and for this reason it is a good idea to spend some time on this and get it right. US query letters are not the same as the covering letters expected in the UK. Fortunately there is a wealth of information on how to write a good query letter online and a quick google search should see you right.
2. Choose your mentors with care
You can only choose four mentors so spend a bit of time checking them out. In particular read their wish lists as these contain a lot of information about what they are looking for in that particular year – if they’ve mentored before it could be quite different from what they were looking for in the past. My submission was a thriller with a SF twist. Of the four mentors I picked who were asking for thrillers the two who requested for material were both also looking at SF. The ones who didn’t request weren’t. Read into that what you may.
3. Study the showcase
Studying the previous year’s showcase not only gives you an indication of the types of work the mentors chose but also gives an interesting insight into what the agents were looking for. None of them can tell who else has requested from a particular showcase until all the agent requests are revealed at the end of the showcase period. Although nobody was left with zero requests last year there was a huge range from 2 to 35!
4. Make friends
Pitch Wars is a massive networking opportunity so take advantage of that. Make friends, find critique partners, join in the fun and challenges. If your mentor is offering feedback on submissions take it. Whether you get any requests or are picked as a mentee is irrelevant. Use this opportunity to your advantage. You never know where things might lead.
5. Don’t give up
The publishing industry is subjective. Mentors’ choices are subjective. You may feel your submission has vanished into a black hole but don’t be disheartened. Keep writing. Keep developing your craft. The key to success is to keep going.
Find out all about Pitch Wars here.