Thursday, October 15, 2015

Twitter Writing Contests: #PitchWars2015

This summer my blog partner, Lisa Abellera, wrote about Twitter contests from the agent perspective. With Brenda Drake’s PitchWars approaching the finale, I've tackled this Twitter contest with a Q & A from THREE different perspectives. 

What exactly is PitchWars, you ask? 

A contest <check> 
Publishing industry crash course <check>
Twitter hangout for writers to procrastinate <uh..>
Super fun <check>

Yes, it is a contest. But it's also so much more. Published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and work with said writer in a “Mentor” capacity for two months in preparation for the agent round.

The competition for Pitch Wars is fierce with more than 1500 applicants for 101 mentors. The agent round begins Nov 3 and FOUR dozen agents will be perusing the offerings and making requests. 

Now, with PitchWars 2015  coming to a close, I have interviewed three participants:
Mentee, Anne Lipton (@AnneLipton) Mentor, Nikki Roberti Miller, and Agent Uwe Stender.
I asked all three participants the same five questions, noted below:

1) How many times have you participated in PitchWars? If more than one, please state the capacity. 

Anne: I also submitted a manuscript in 2014

Nikki: This is my second year in Pitch Wars. My first year, I was a mentee who was mentored by the talented Rachel Lynn Solomon. Within two weeks of Pitch Wars, I landed my own agent. This year, I’m paying forward by being a mentor myself.

Uwe: This is my third time, always as an agent.

2) What were [are] you looking for in PitchWars?

Anne: A mentor who can help me revise my manuscript to its full potential

Nikki: Last year, I was looking for that extra level of revising that I hadn’t explored before. I learned so much from Rachel as a mentee, and it really revolutionized my writing. Not only that, but it prepared me for the intensity of agent revisions. I try to apply everything I learned to each manuscript I CP for, and this year for Pitch Wars, my main goal is to help another author just like I was helped. Learning to revise is the best skill anyone can have, but it takes a lot to get there.

Uwe: I am looking for GREAT projects. I am actively looking for brilliant clients.

3) What words of wisdom do you have for the Mentees the morning of Nov 3?

Anne: Eat a good breakfast. We have a really supportive Facebook mentee group and I will probably go hang out there for moral support.

Nikki: First piece of advice: DO NOT STRESS. DO NOT OBSESS. 

Seriously…walk away from the computer refreshing. It’ll be okay. And know that even if you get no requests from the agent round, you can still query (including the agents who participated). I had five requests on my entry but ended up with seven offers of representation between the agent round and querying---and most of them came from querying, including Pitch Wars agents who didn’t request during the agent round.

The main reward of Pitch Wars is your shiny MS and new skills. Embrace it. Trust it. Be proud of what you’ve done. And keep querying. You’ve got this!

Uwe: Enjoy the process. Don't take it personally. If you don't get any requests, it does not mean that your book is not publishable. If you get many requests, it does not guarantee an agent offer and/or publication in the future.  Have fun with it, no matter what happens! And if several agents request it and I am one of them, send it to me first! 

4) The PitchWars selection process is comparable to the query process in the publishing industry. What advice do you have for querying writers? 

Anne: Submit. Revise. Repeat. Read blogs on how to write a good query. Write yours a million times. Read other writers’ queries. Have other writers read your query. Contests can help, too. Read submission guidelines. Personalize the query. Keep the query under 300 words and your bio not more than one to two sentences.

Nikki: Make sure your queries and manuscripts are as polished as they can be. Polished does not mean proof read your rough draft. It means sharing it with others, tearing it apart, and putting it back together. Put in the work first to avoid querying too early. 

Uwe: Be persistent, be polite!

5) What is the single best thing about PitchWars for you?

Anne: Receiving invaluable feedback from my mentor to improve my manuscript. Than you Max!

Nikki: The online writing community. I have loved every moment of getting to know my fellow writers, and they have truly kept me sane during the ups and downs of this industry. Meeting them has been the most rewarding. 

Uwe: That I will see many projects that normally may not have come my way in the regular query process.

And there you have it.


  1. This is such a great post! Thanks to all of you for your insights and comments!

    1. Thank you! PitchWars was a great experience for me last year. But I also think it's great for the mentors and agents. I always love to get different perspectives!

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