If you're reading this blog post, you probably already know what Pitch Wars is. For those of you who don't know, it's a contest held once a year by the amazing Brenda Drake. Published/agented authors act as mentors and choose one writer, their mentee, read their whole manuscript, and help get that manuscript ready for querying agents.
As a Pitch Wars 2015 mentee who wasn't chosen when I first entered in 2014, I can tell you first-hand how awesome this contest is and how many opportunities it opens up for you...even if you don't get picked as a mentee.
Even if you don't get chosen...
The sense of camaraderie on the hashtag, #PitchWars, is PHENOMENAL. Make the most of it and you'll find new writer friends.
You might not just find writer friends, but also CPs and beta readers.
You've not just finished a book, you've put yourself out there and shown you're open to constructive criticism and improving your writing. That's a huge step in itself, and it takes you one step closer to publication.
You might get feedback on your entry (although this is not guaranteed). Maybe you'll pick up some hints and tips for making your book stronger, and even for future manuscripts.
Entering the contest gives you a deadline for actually finishing your book and writing the query letter. This is especially helpful for writers struggling to cram their writing into an already hectic schedule. Finishing can be a goal in itself!
Not getting picked does NOT mean your book is unpublishable. This is a very, very subjective business, and rejection is par for the course. Learning how to handle that subjectivity now stands you in great stead for your whole writing career.
If you DO get picked...
You will learn SO, SO much about writing craft and how to improve your manuscript.
The help you'll get with your query and synopsis will help you stand out in the slush pile.
As the contest grows in popularity each year, your entry will be showcased to more and more agents who know your manuscript has been revised to a very high standard.
You will gain an amazing, supportive group of fellow writers all going through the same process, and experiencing the same hopes/doubts. This is especially helpful when the agent showcase comes around. The unwavering support, cheerleading and kindness in my group has been INCREDIBLE.
You will find new CPs and beta readers who have been through the same experience.
It is not easy getting zero or few requests in the agent round. It is not easy receiving rejection after rejection once the contest closes and the querying begins. It is not easy when the offers of rep and book deals are flying around, and you're putting that shiny PW manuscript in the drawer after closing out on your last query. It is not easy picking up and starting anew.
Each and every one of those heartbreaks is invaluable. Take what you've learned and apply it to a new manuscript. Applaud yourself for being brave enough to put your manuscript out there, and for embracing constructive criticism (after all, being chosen means a mentor loves your manuscript, but knows how to make it BETTER). See yourself for what you are - one HUGE step closer to publication, even if it might not feel like it.
If you have a completed manuscript, give it a go. Take the chance and submit your entry. You never know where it'll take you!
Good luck, and I can't wait to read your entries during the agent round!!