10 Things About Pitch Wars You May Not Know

I know some things. I’ve been on both sides of this. All three sides. I’ve been an entrant who got no requests. I’ve been an entrant who got in. Now I’m a mentor. So…you know…perspective. Certainly I’m not the only one who’s been in all three spots. But it’s just a few of us. So here are some  truths*

*All truths are subject to my interpretation and/or hallucination. Some truths may not actually be true. But they probably are.

  1. Every single mentor is in a different place right now. And I mean this both physically and mentally. Physically, some mentors are done reading all their subs, some aren’t. Some have day jobs, some don’t. Some have made all their requests, a lot haven’t. And mentally, everyone is in a different place, too. Some mentors have one dream pick that they’re just hoping and dying and wishing that nobody else will want. Some are digging through their maybe pile, hoping they missed something because nothing is speaking to them. Many…MANY…are dying because there are seven that they love equally and they have no idea how they’re going to choose, and dear God please let another mentor love six of them so they all find a home.
  2. Mentors want you to be successful. I can’t stress this enough. But having a mentee who crushes it is a point of pride. You know how as a parent you want your kid to be more successful than you? Same deal. And not just the people that we pick. We want the best for all of you. Except the asshats. Don’t be an asshat.
  3. It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with it. Here’s what matters: Did you get better? Did you? Did you take another step? Here’s the trick…everybody’s journey has a different number of steps, and nobody knows ahead of time how many steps there will be in yours. Here’s the only thing we know: If you’re not there yet, you need to take another step.
  4. A lot of mentors have impostor syndrome. Like, why are these people listening to me when I can’t finish my new draft? It never goes away.  Ever. I’m pretty sure somewhere Stephen King is wondering why people keep reading his books. Personally, I’ve thought a dozen times this week ‘who am I to be saying this MS is good and this one isn’t.’
  5. You know, it’s not over. More people are going to get requests who haven’t. I know people got requests today. People will get requests tomorrow. And people are going to tell you over and over again that it’s not over, and there’s still hope. And that’s all true. But it’s still okay to protect yourself. If you’re not feeling it, and you think you aren’t getting in, it’s okay to hold out a sliver of hope, but also a big helping of self care. It’s okay to protect yourself  and be okay that it may not happen. In 2014, I knew five days after submission that I wasn’t getting in. And it wasn’t because I got no requests (I didn’t) — it’s because I swapped pages with writers who were better than me and all of a sudden I knew I had a long way to go. I realized that I needed work.
  6. Professionals don’t let their disappointment show in public. It’s okay to feel bad. It’s your life — it is always okay to feel whatever you feel. Always. But what’s not okay is feeling it all over public social media. Because people see that, and it’s self fulfilling. And it goes beyond this contest. You know the saying ‘fake it til you make it?’ There’s a reason that’s a saying. In all things you do, be the person that other people want to work with. By all means, grab a few drinks or donuts or whatever you do, and unload in private to your friends. Just turn off twitter before you do it. Because people remember. If you’re really a writer, you’re going to keep writing. It’s kind of in the definition. And some of the same people are going to be around the next time, and they may be in a position to help you. And they may or may not choose to do that based on what they think of you.
  7. We really want you to like us. Almost as much as you want us to like you. Look, everybody does  this for different reasons. But if a mentor is here, giving up her time, then she wants to be here. And that probably means she wants to give something to a writer who wants to be here too.
  8. Most of the mentees who will get selected didn’t know any of the mentors before the contest started. People are interacting on the hashtag, and people are having fun. But when I polled the group of 2015 mentees, most of them didn’t know anybody. By a very wide margin. It really is about the pages. Really.
  9. People who make excuses continue to fail. People who succeed make plans. Make a plan.
  10. I can’t stop writing blog posts. I feel guilty about it. I could be reading more pages. I could be doing critiques for people, so more people could get feedback. But I can’t. I have to make words. And I can’t concentrate enough to make words to my next novel right now, so this will have to do.Be good to each other.


  • JillDeF says:

    I’m saving this in a little dropbox file marked “Pitchwars 2017” and will hang on to it until next year when I submit for the first time. Keeping grounded, keeping things real. Good stuff to remember going into a wonderful crazy opportunity like Pitchwars.

  • Melyssa says:

    I should be reading pages, too, but couldn’t keep my eyes off this! Please don’t ever stop writing blog posts.

  • Karen Mahara says:

    And this is why I totally crush on you. You’re an awesome mentor. Whoever gets you and Dan is very lucky indeed. Good luck! I know how much work all this takes.

    Thank you.

  • Good words, Michael! Thanks.

  • Such a great post for more than just #PitchWars. I appreciate the points on impostor syndrome and self-care in particular. Querying/submitting to contests like this can be lonely and isolating if you’re not careful. Thanks for the pep talk!

  • Actually, we need your blog posts. It makes these interstitial moments feel less lonely. Also gives us the motivation to go do some good, whether it’s working on our next WIP or indulging in a bit of self-care.

  • I’m grateful you’re doing the blog posts and please don’t stop! If nothing else, I’ve learned stuff I will apply to my next submission. Off to try and get a few more edits in, but again, thank you!

  • Teagan Brody says:

    It’s okay that you’re writing here. In fact, I’m glad you are. You guys are my inspiration and I’ll always be happy to read anything and everything you care to send out to the starving eyes and minds of all us writers crawling along the ground searching for droppings of wisdom. So keep writing!

  • On behalf of all of us currently on this side, thanks for all this hard work.

  • Terri Lewis says:

    Number 3 spoke to me – I took another step. The mss is so much better.

    Thanks for your grounded, kind words.

  • Words are words. They are inside us scrabbling to get out. Some people don’t listen to the scrabbles while others have to let them be free (and thus, become writers). Words can be cathartic to the writer and educational for the reader (and vise versa). They will change you from where you were to where you are after reading or writing them. Let those scrabbles be free Michael, both for you as a writer and for us as readers. It’s all good.

  • Good comments and great perspective. Thanks.

  • I’ve written my 1,000 words today, so now I’m reading. You’ve inspired me to keep on keeping on. Please don’t stop blogging; I like the humor. I need the humor.

  • Great insights and advice, thanks for sharing! I totally agree on point 9 – you need a plan. Making a plan is so important. Plan on entering pitch wars, and then plan what you will do if you don’t get in. If you have a plan ready to go if you don’t get in, it saves you from drowning in disappointment because you have a goal you are working on to keep you focused.

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I am a Soldier and a Science Fiction writer. Usually I write about Soldiers. Go figure. I'm represented by Lisa Rodgers of JABberwocky Literary Agency. If you love my blog and want to turn it into a blockbuster movie featuring Chris Hemsworth as me, you should definitely contact her.

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