When I told my Dad I was participating in Pitch Wars, he looked at me, tilted his head, and said, “Baseball?”
No, Dad. Not baseball. Never baseball. (Well, maybe somewhere it’s baseball, but not here.)
What Is It?
Pitch Wars is essentially this: A contest where writers submit their first chapter and query letter on a Submission Form. On the form, you select your word count, genre, and up to four-ish mentors that you want to submit to.
It is hosted by the lovely Brenda Drake. Somewhere between 50 and 100 published authors offer up their know-how and editing eyes for two months!
How Does It Work?
1. Mentor Announcements (Blog Hop Phase)
The mentors are announced in advance so you have time to stalk their blogs/Twitter and see who is your best fit. This begins the blog hop, where each mentor posts to their blog what type of project they are looking for. Find the mentors who seem to match your style and genre!
2. The Submission Phase
This is typically a single day when anyone/everyone can fill out a Submission Form with:
- Chapter 1 attachment
- Category (MG, YA, NA, A)
- Word count
- Select the mentors from a dropdown menu
- Email address
3. The Decision Phase.
The Mentors have 2 weeks to read through queries and decide what they want. This is probably the most important phase. On Twitter, follow the #PitchWars feed, and you’ll see hundreds of writers who are all being nervous-excited together!
Just like Agents, a Mentor can request a synopsis, a partial manuscript or a full manuscript if they need more information before making their decision.
This is the real gold of the Pitch Wars contest: meeting other writers and authors who are in the same boat as you. Find Critique Partners! Discuss plot and characters! Make Writer Friends!
4. Decision Time
On a specific date, the leader of the contest, Brenda Drake, will post the results. This will list a mentor and his/her mentee. Of the thousand+ people that enter, each mentor will select one writer to be their mentee.
5. The Mentorship Phase
The mentor will work with the mentee for two whole months! During this time, the manuscript and query letter will be commented on by the mentor. Each mentor is different in what type of edits they are willing to give. Often, they’ll explain that in their blog during the Blog Hop phase. The goal: get it to a polishy gleam!
6. Agent Round
The mentors have helped their mentees brighten up their pitch and their excerpt. The pitch and excerpt are sent/uploaded to Brenda Drake’s blog. Then a slew of previously announced Agents will scour the submissions and comment with requests. This is the “contest” part. The writer (mentee) who gets the most requests “wins.”
Why is “wins” in quotations? Well, because every writer that gets a request has already won in a sense! There are no guarantees for representation by an Agent or publication, but getting requests means you’re on the right track! Not just the top place winner wins. If you’ve got requests, you’ve got a chance!
Why/When to Submit?
Only submit if you’re prepared for the real life query stage. Getting in on the action is just as real as submitting to an agent. The work you put out should be your best, and you should be very clear and knowledgeable about the type of help you want.
On top of that, some Mentors will give you feedback even if they don’t pick you! It might be something as simple as thanking you for entering, why they didn’t pick you, or something you could work on in the future. Any help at all is useful!
What Happens if I Didn’t Submit?
Try again next year!
This contest happens annually. If you missed it this year, that’s a whole year to finish your project, hone it down, and brighten it up.
There’s still a chance to win!
But just because you didn’t submit doesn’t mean you can’t win something! A lot of the mentors are offering random first chapter critiques or query critiques. Some of them don’t require that you submitted to Pitch Wars.
Go For Gold
As I said before, the writing community you discover is gold. Writers that partake in the #PitchWars hashtag are often looking for fellow CPs (Critique Partners) and are willing and excited to give and receive advice. Spend an unhealthy amount of time on Twitter, and you’ll find a slew of talented and enthusiastic writers willing to work with you and chat!