Pitch Wars: The Long Journey, Part II

Previous Post: Pitch Wars: The Long Journey, Part I (my entire journey leading to Pitch Wars).

A brief reminder… This is just MY journey, and other mentee experiences may vary. I do not speak for every mentee, mentor, Pitch Wars, or their board. To kick my Pitch Wars Journey off, I’d thought I’d begin with my journey to Pitch Wars itself and the manuscript (MS) I submitted.

I can’t remember when I first learned of Pitch Wars, but I do remember thinking it was nothing but writers literally pitching their MSs on Twitter, begging to be chosen by mentors. That terrified me. I’ve since done PitMad, so it’s not as terrifying, but I’m thankful that’s not how submitting to Pitch Wars works. It’s just like the other mentorship programs– query, a few pages, and synopsis. I had those things. All I needed were my mentors.

I started by clicking on the profile for every YA mentor and focused on the ones who were open to fantasy. From there I zeroed in on their wishlist and what they didn’t want. No point in getting attached if they my MS had things that the specifically listed as not wanting. By that point I had about 10 or so, so I read the rest of their PW page such as their background, mentorship style, and what they were looking in a mentee. I also kept an eye out for mentions of history or crafts since both heavily influenced my MS, along with mentioning wanting ace MCs, which mine is. I was able to further weed it down to about 6, and then a top 4 of who I thought would be the best fits. For past mentorships I would also check out their books, Twitter, create a spreadsheet with all my notes and even score them to narrow it down. My hopes going into Pitch Wars were so low I just went off their lists and narrowed it to four.

Laura made my cut because she had a lot of things I was open for, mentioned historical works, romance didn’t seem like it was a must, and just the general feel of her page. It was homey and she seemed like a cool and friendly person to work it. Plus she mentioned baking, which my MC does a lot of. Specifically pie.

When applications opened up slightly early, I submitted everything and then did my best to forget. Again, my expectations were low, and based on my prior experience, keeping a distance from everything– the mentors and even the hopeful mentee community– would be the best way for me to handle the disappointment.

And it worked. Until October 11th. When I had just gotten off work and was checking my email and saw a new email titled “Pitch Wars Request” arrive. It contained a full request from Laura along with some questions to answer (the history of the MS, strengths/weaknesses, how much time I would have, what I wouldn’t change, why the MS was important to me). Once the shock wore off, I spent the rest of the night typing and editing my responses.

On the one hand, I was excited. But I had done this before, responding to a mentorship request and answering the same questions. I knew a request was not a guarantee of being picked. I kept my answers as honest and professional as possible and tried my best to not get my hopes up. The only person I even told about the request was my writing CP who asked if I had heard anything from PW.

Which did work. For a bit. I spent the weeks waiting working on my NaNo project, and really didn’t think about Pitch Wars until the last week as the announcement grew closer. Monday – Wednesday weren’t too bad, but by Thursday, I was starting to get excited. I reminded myself that I probably wouldn’t get picked, and I’d be fine. Maybe if I was lucky, she’d send me some feedback (not that PW mentors are required to do so). And not getting picked would mean I could figure out what direction I wanted to take– another round of revisions, shelving it, or a round of querying. It’d mean I could spend the rest of November focusing on NaNo, which I was finally starting to make progress on.

I’d be okay. Rejection would hurt like always, but I’d be okay.

The nice thing about living west of US Eastern time zone was that I didn’t have to stay up to midnight on Friday night, so I was able to watch it be posted live. And missed my name the first time I checked. There were 48 YA listings to scan through in a small area, and all my attention was on the left column I missed my name on the right.

Please note the name sixth down in the right column. that I missed the first time….

If it wasn’t for me double checking one last time, I probably wouldn’t have known until I would’ve glanced at my email. As it was, I didn’t believe it until I saw the congratulations email from Laura, and another from Pitch Wars.

If you’ve seen my tweet, then you know I spent a good half hour trying to compose the perfect response. I couldn’t, so just wrote the truth. I was also sleepy and figured I’d wake up the next day and find it had been nothing been a dream. A nice dream, but still sadly, a dream.

Said tweet in question in which I’m still not 100% happy with, but that is the life of a writer, always editing

But it was real. I spent the weekend in shock. Rereading Laura’s congratulations email and the kind words she’d written about what drew her to my MS, and later her tweet announcing me as her mentee.

Against a wall and sitting on a wooden table is a blue picture frame with text inside. At the top in blue fancy script are the words: 1 Request, 1 Yes. Beneath is a tweet from Laura Jingle All the Weymouth, @lauraeweymouth dated 10:41 AM, November 6, 2021 which states: I am OVER THE MOON to be mentoring Kay this year for Pitch Wars. Her gorgeous historical fantasy has so many things I love—firm friendships between female characters, a nuanced look at magic and a creative, deeply respectful take on the usefulness of feminine activities and arts. Beneath the tweet is a light blue box with black text that states: 4,174 Entries. 117 Mentees (2.7%, 48 YA). 1686 YA (40%). 1849 Fantasy (44.3%). 1080 YA Fantasy (58.4% of Fantasy, 64% of YA).
My motivation on bad days. It reads: 1 Request, 1 Yes and Laura’s original tweet: I am OVER THE MOON to be mentoring Kay this year for Pitch Wars. Her gorgeous historical fantasy has so many things I love—firm friendships between female characters, a nuanced look at magic and a creative, deeply respectful take on the usefulness of feminine activities and arts. Also breaks down the stats from Pitch Wars 2021 based on this post and some approximate calculations: 4,174 Entries. 117 Mentees (2.7%, 48 YA). 1686 YA (40%). 1849 Fantasy (44.3%). 1080 YA Fantasy (58.4% of Fantasy, 64% of YA).

Because if you thought Imposter Syndrome disappears when you’re selected for a mentorship program, you’re wrong. If anything, it goes up a notch. Like, did she really pick me? Maybe she mistook me for somebody else? Was I her only applicant? Or were all the others My Immortal quality? What if I disappoint her and she regrets picking me? What if I’m not as good as the other mentees? What if she hates my revisions? All of their MSs sound much better than mine. Imposter Syndrome is brutal no matter where you are in your writing journey.

Talking to my other mentees and realizing I wasn’t alone in feeling that way helped a lot. If you ever experience Imposter Syndrome, reach out to your writing friends or writing communities, because there will be somebody there who knows what you’re going. I’ve seen stories from PUBLISHED authors who battle Imposter Syndrome. There’s no reason you have to fight it alone.

Anyway, that’s how my writing journey got me to PW. Of course, getting in is actually the easy part. There’s still the roughly two and a halvish months to rewrite my MS, query, PW entry….

Next Post: Receiving my edit letter, creating a new outline, completing first half of revisions and dealing with another bout of that pesky Imposter Syndrome.

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