On August 27, the sub window will open and suddenly the vibe on the #PitchWars feed will change dramatically. Mentees will freak out about pulling the trigger, as everyone seems to be sending in their subs, but you’re not ready yet, and the mentors have suddenly gone dark. Panic sets in.
First of all RELAX. You don’t have to submit the minute the window opens. Take your time, read your materials through once more, and only send when you are fully ready to go. If you’re afraid your favorite mentor will form an attachment that you won’t be able to overcome, I’m here to tell you that while my fabulous 2016 mentee did submit in the first few hours of the first day, my fabulous 2015 mentee submitted with 30 minutes to spare on the last day. Meanwhile, the year I submitted, I sent my materials in pretty much at the dead center of the window. It doesn’t matter when you send it. Just make sure it’s the best submission you can make it. Don’t get swept up in submission fever.
And yes, the mentors will fall off the feed when the submissions start to roll in because our eyeballs will be licking all the fantastic entries. We’re still around, so don’t hesitate to tweet questions at specific mentors.
What are we doing behind the scenes?
During the first week, we’ll be trying to figure out the best strategy to attack between 50 and 300 subs. I personally will be trying to catalog everything, which I do on a spreadsheet with author name, title, genre, etc. We’ll start reading first chapters at our own different paces. Some of us will be requesting. Some of us won’t request until we’ve gotten all our subs.
During the next weeks, we will be talking among ourselves about YOU. We usually let each other know which MS we’re digging so we can get a feel for any competition or find out if someone who wasn’t on a sub wants to take a peek. And we’ll continue to work through our submissions and make requests.
Toward the end of the reading period, we’ll start to feel the crunch. Which MS do we want to work with? This scrumptious fantasy? That sexy romance? Ack! We’ll start negotiating with anyone who has their greedy eyes our OUR mentee. We’ll probably start stalking you and wondering what it means that you liked HER tweet yesterday but not MINE!!! You know, just like you do.
And then finally, we’ll decide. Somehow.
You’ll notice that mentors like to tweet teasers. These will come in two flavors. The first will be generalized teachable opportunities, such as, “Remember, use exposition judiciously in opening chapters.” Don’t assume that these are aimed at you specifically, but if you feel they implicate you, then you can always use them to help you hone your craft. Also, don’t assume these words of advice indicate that these subs aren’t being considered for selection. We aren’t here to reject you. We’re here to find an MS we can help, and some of these words of advice will be doled out to our selected mentees as well.
The second form of teaser is the slow torture that some people love and some people hate. These ARE specific comments that might pertain to your entry. Things like “I’m loving this LGBT CR. It’s BRILLIANT!” might be a clue for someone who subbed a romance set in London, for instance. Some mentors like to be super evasive when they begin to narrow, so you can look forward to tweets such as “My top entry has verbs.” If these kinds of tweets stress you out, you might want to avoid the #PWTeaser hashtag. Maybe even stay off the #PitchWars thread altogether. The best thing you can be doing right now is a) reading and b) writing.
Some mentors may want to read more of your MS and will ask for a partial or a full. Be sure that you don’t submit unless you have these ready to go because there’s a chance the request will come soon after you hit send. Not all mentors will ask for more than the first chapter, so not getting a request doesn’t mean nobody is considering you.
ALL of the above to say: Try not to get worried or jealous about how many requests others are getting. I know it’s hard not to read the tea leaves, but seriously, comparing yourself to others in this business is the fast road to insanity. Everyone is different. Everyone’s experience will be different. This is advice for the sub window and for publishing in general. We’re all in this together.
And in the spirit of how tight this community is, I urge YOU to think twice about what you tweet while waiting for picks to be announced. Some of you will get requests while others will be hearing crickets. Think about the impact of your words before you tweet. Resist the urge to randomly ask if mentors are still making requests. The answer is YES. Until mentors make their final decision, they can request until the very last day. Some don’t even start making requests until late. Fretting openly will neither get you the answer you’re looking for NOR entice a mentor to make a request. We don’t pity request or guilt request. But we might think twice if we think a mentee might not be far enough along to understand basic professional etiquette.
On the flip side, if you DO get a request, resist the urge to celebrate on the feed. Think about the above fretters and realize your joy is their very intense pain. Likewise, don’t tweet publicly about mentors emailing you to ask you questions. Don’t brag about how confident you are you’ll get picked. It’s a dick move, and nobody will thank you for it. And the mentors will be watching.
This advice goes for querying as well. Share good news with your close friends. Save the rooftop shouting for the milestones. If you do get picked for PitchWars, then you can celebrate publicly. When you sign with an agent or see your book listed in Publishers Weekly or see it on Amazon for the first time, all those friends you’ve made along the way will flail along with you. Trust that there will be things to celebrate–where everyone can celebrate with you.
DO celebrate when you hit submit and send your MS into #PitchWars! That’s a celebration we’ll all be happy to share! Congratulations! You’re now a Pitch Warrior no matter what happens next.
What you can do during the sub window is support each other. Continue to reach out and make friends. Swap your work. Play games. And write something new. True story — I started writing the book that came out last February during this window three years ago. Meanwhile, my PitchWars MS languishes in a drawer somewhere.
All the mentors want you to have a great experience in this contest even if you aren’t ultimately chosen by a mentor. Make the most of this opportunity while you can.
Did I miss anything? Tweet me any questions you might have at @maryannmarlowe and I’ll try to include more useful info in this post.