Whether it was my sparkling bio or my entry, I did get selected for PitchWars 2017.
I applied to six different mentors/mentor teams and got five out of six requests for my full manuscript (*side-eyes the sixth*). For weeks, I was glued to Twitter looking for any hint that I may be a front runner for anyone. There were a few teasers I could definitely see my manuscript in, but mostly, they kept me guessing.
A few days before the winners were announced, I found out that all the selected authors would be joining a private Facebook group. That was when I knew I’d be totally devastated if I didn’t get picked. The chance to be mentored was one thing, but the community of writers I would gain had to be the grand prize. By August 24th, I had my eyes on one mentor team. Their teasers were speaking more to me, and they’d sent me a follow up email during the selection process which indicated I was at the top of their list. So when the announcement was finally posted, and I saw my name next to theirs, I just about died.
Mary Ann Marlowe and Kelli Newby had chosen ME! Not one, but two amazingly incredibly smart and talented writers saw something in my book worth falling for. I had a co-mentee as well, so Mary Ann took point on me while Kelli focused on my PitchWars sister.
Working with Mary Ann was probably the best thing that’s ever happened to my writing. I’m a hopeless pantser, as I’ve mentioned, and couldn’t work a spreadsheet to save my life, but she showed me the way (by making one for me–seriously, I just had to fill in the blanks). We talked about structure and character motivations and intensifying the black moment and really drilling down to what makes the book work, and also–what wasn’t really working at all.
They were cheerleaders, they were tough love masters, and they delivered on their promise to help me create a book I loved even more than the one I originally submitted. The tools they gave me, I’ll be able to use in all my past manuscripts to tighten them up, and in all my future books to keep me on the right track.
While the agent showcase wasn’t exactly my finest hour, I still walked away with a much better book. But what I’ve really gained is the community. The Facebook group, y’all. While it has been difficult at times watching so many others achieve so much in such a short amount of time, the level of support is unreal. We swap MSs, we beta read, we critique pitches and queries and chapters. We share insider info. I’ve found at least three other long-term CPs from this experience that I never would have found on my own, and we’re still swapping. Still learning about each other as we slog through the query trenches.
So while I still don’t have an agent, I have never been closer. And I’ve never felt so supported on this harsh journey as I do now. PitchWars is hard. It’s no joke. I gained at least fifteen pounds, and my house was never such a big mess as the two months leading up to the agent showcase, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It’s not just a contest. It really is so much more.