Pitch Wars Update

That was fun. Dan and I have finished going through our inbox, and are discussing submissions. We got a lot. We will post how many, and give some other statistics in the near future. I’m not posting it now, because we like to analyze data and put it into useful formats. That’s just the kind of nerds we are. We were well into triple digits.

We have made some requests. We will make more. Guaranteed. Our ‘must see more’ folder still has some stuff in it, and our ‘maybe see more’ folder has a LOT of stuff in it. The quality of stuff we got was really, really impressive. I know that everybody is saying that, and I know that sitting on the other side (where I have been) it’s hard to believe. Let me put it this way: There are at least 20 submissions in our inbox right now that we could take. Probably more. What do I mean by that? I mean there are 20 books where with two months of work, I feel like we could have it ready for agents with a good chance of success.

It may be a while before we make the additional requests. Why? Well, it takes time. Request emails are personal to each person, and they require thought. We’ve already got more materials than I can process today. And my refrigerator is empty, I have no clothes to wear tomorrow, and my apartment is being considered as a toxic waste dump by the EPA. I have to adult. Add to that the fact that I’ve read probably more than 1000 pages in the last few days, and you’ll get a feel for it. Not looking for sympathy, or appreciation. It’s an honor to do this, and I’m having a hell of a lot of fun. I just need to be an adult for a few hours.

I will continue to do updates here, on the blog, from now one, instead of twitter. I worry about the mixed reactions to things I post, because I know that everything mentors say is getting scrutinized for clues. Posting to the blog allows me to better think out what I’m saying, and fully communicate the thought.

Feedback. So that’s the big question, right? If you don’t get selected (and since we had triple digit entries, mathematically your chances of being selected by us are less than 1%)  everybody wants to know if they’ll get some kind of feedback. And I want to provide feedback, I really do. But I can’t do it for everybody. There’s just not time. But I will do it for some. How many? I don’t know. It will depend on how much time it takes us reading submitted materials. And we won’t know that until we start to go through the partial requests we have and the ones we will request and then see how many of those turn into fulls. I’ll do more than 10, but less than 100. That’s as much as I’m willing to define it.

What will you get? Whatever I have to say that’s useful. In some cases it will be just a line or two. A few people will get a page marked up, if I think that’s valuable (but that takes a lot of time.) I will simply endeavor to give you something that you can use. And in a few cases, it’s going to just be that sad refrain of ‘hey, this was good. But we liked something else better.’ And if you get that, know that it’s not a blow off. I’m not going to tell you it was good if it wasn’t. In some cases you’ll get the notes that I’ve already made. In some cases I will open your chapter back up and look again. All feedback will come after the announcements for Pitch Wars winners. Two reasons for that. First, those are the rules set by the boss. Which is a pretty good reason. Second, I won’t give you feedback if another mentor picks you. That’s not my place.

With that said, read this next part clearly:

Warning. Your feedback might hurt your feelings. I will do my very best to be productive in feedback, and I think I know how to do that. But I’m not going to lie to you. Feedback, even on a good day, hurts, because somebody is telling you what they think is wrong. It’s the nature of good feedback. But it’s the only way to get better. If feedback doesn’t sting, it’s not working. And I find it the worst kind of cruel to tell somebody that they are close to being ready when they aren’t. You stunt their growth, because you make them believe something that isn’t true. I will not be cruel or mean. I really don’t have that in me. I will be honest. And sometimes honest seems cruel, at first, until you digest it.

How will I pick who gets feedback? With some entries, I know I have something to say, so I’ll give feedback there. This will especially apply to ones that were close — where there’s maybe one thing that could push them over the top. Some I will choose at random. To get feedback you must meet two requirements: 1. You submitted to Dan and me. 2. You follow my blog.

Hey…I see what you did there! You’re just trying to trick us into following your blog!

Well…yes. But not just that. I want to spend my time giving feedback to people who actually want it. Following lets me know that you’re interested in what I have to say. Time is the critical resource here, and I want to spend it on the people who invest their own time. If you’re going to do it, I recommend you sign up soon. Because while I won’t be sending the feedback until after the winners are announced, I’ll be writing it daily. There will be a pile of draft emails, sitting there, waiting for Brenda’s announcement.

Additionally, I will give feedback to everybody from whom we request additional materials. Some actually get some feedback in the request itself, because I want to talk about what I’m seeing.

It was really eye opening to me going through submissions the last few days. I certainly have a better appreciation for my agent, now (not that I didn’t appreciate her before — she’s awesome — but I have a better appreciation for this aspect of her work.) I will post trends and general thoughts on what I saw sometime in the next week or so. And hey, if you’re following my blog, you’ll get a notice when that happens!


  • Faith Rivens says:

    Thanks for sharing a bit of the process with us. Really makes me appreciate the hard work all the mentors have to put into this. Best of luck choosing your mentee: whoever it is will be very fortunate 🙂

  • Love this post! I didn’t sub to you (wrong category) but everything you say here needs to be heard. It’s obvious that chances to be mentored are so slim, and people need to understand both sides of the equation.

  • Jenny Dewes says:

    Great info, thanks for the update! All the hard work you and Dan put into this process is greatly appreciated! Good luck adulting 🙂

  • T. Vienne says:

    I am totally quibbling, but the odds of getting picked by you guys are probably not 1/300, unless you choose your mentee at random. I imagine there’s a subset of entries that would fit all your requirements, and from that set the selection is more or less probabilistic.

    Looking forward to see your guys’ stats!

    • Well no. And we didn’t get 300 entries. But in the end, we got over a hundred entries, and we’re going to pick one. That one won’t be random, as this isn’t a random process. There are a ton of dependent variables, and the more of those variables you hit, the better your chances. Back in college I could probably have created a huge equation to predict your real chances, complete with correlation coefficients. But it’s been a long time since I took econometrics. So yeah, I’m totally making that number up. And there are other things — like if your book is really good, there’s a decent chance another mentor might want it, and given that we’ve got maybe 20 that I think we could take on, we’re not really likely to argue with them.

  • EN Bungo says:

    First off, thanks to you and all the mentors who have provided their thoughts, experiences, and honesty throughout the Pitch Wars process. One thing I noticed throughout the various feeds was the acknowledgement/benefit of good critique partners. After the PitchWars madness ends, I would be very curious on how some of the mentors found their critique partners. It is one thing I think many of us may see as a bit of a black box.

    • I’ve seen some people do blog posts on that before, though I’m having trouble remembering exactly where. Right now, I’d recommend the mentee hopeful facebook page, if you’re not there. As for me, I got most of mine by swapping first chapters with people and seeing if we’re a fit. Then, once you get a couple, they multiply. These days I almost exclusively take referrals. But I should do a whole post on this sometime.

  • Judy L Mohr says:

    I can guarantee that many PitchWars entrants will be hoping to not only be the one you select, but to be one of the lucky ones to get personalized feedback. Regardless, even generalized feedback here on your blog will be of benefit. People will read so many different things into it, but hopefully we’ll get something that can use to further our writing development. Thanks, Michael, in advance.

  • Although I was unable to sub this year, you provided great advice in regard to feedback. As writer’s, we may not want to hear the negatives, but it’s those negatives we can turn into positives.

    Thank you.

  • Looking forward to what you have to say!

  • Thanks for the post. Long and short of it is, DeeAnn and I will keep moving on other projects until or unless we are among the chosen. We need to take our minds off pitchwars anxiety and keep working toward the goal of publication. We both enjoyed your pre-pitchwars banter in twitter IMMENSELY. Whoever you choose should be in for a great experience so long as they take to heart your warning above. For their sake let me just add, as painful as editorial comments may seem, editors are a writer’s best friends.

  • Thank you so much for the wonderful post. Is following your blog as easy as clicking the notify me buttons below? If so, yeah I followed! if not how? I usually just go to bookmarked blogs and catch up every week or so I have never tried to follow one.


  • Jenni says:

    Thank you for keeping us in the loop with your plan! I’m just going to go keep plugging away on my next WIP until the end of the month trying not to stalk blogs and Twitter. 🙂

  • I assume you mean subscribe via email, as opposed to the RSS feed? (I read my daily blog hop via an RSS feed reader.)

  • Thanks for the post, it’s nice to know where you are at. Twitter can drive hopeful mentees a little insane. lol.
    It must be so hard to have so many ones you like, good luck picking just one, I do not envy you. I look forward to your future posts. And thanks for the offer of feed back, I’d be interested in what you have to say if I’m one of the lucky ones who get feed back from you. Happy reading!

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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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