PitchWars is one of the most rewarding, most exciting, most excruciating times of year for me. Excruciating doesn’t seem like a good thing, right? But it is (and it isn’t) — let me explain.
Being a PitchWars mentor is fun. First and foremost, you get to know and talk to people you wouldn’t usually get to know. These people enrich our lives, which is a fantastic thing.
As a PitchWars mentor though, you have a responsibility to both yourself and your potential mentees. Be yourself, be dedicated, and be as helpful as possible.
We’re not agents, we don’t have a slushpile of our own on a regular basis (unless we’re interns and then it’s still not our own slushpile).
What we are – is fellow writers, freelance editors, industry interns, and agented writers. What we have in common is a complete and utter love of stories and storytelling.
Which brings us to subjective.
The whole bloody industry is subjective. You hear it all the time. Oh – don’t worry – keep trying – different things appeal to different people.
But the thing is?
You don’t realize how true this is, until you’re faced with choosing a manuscript from your submissions. Why is this a problem? Let me list that out for you:
Let’s take me for example. I received 156 (I think) submissions. 156 people chose to submit to me. First of all, that is amazingly humbling – but secondly? It’s scary as hell.
Upon receiving these submissions, I scanned the query and premise, moved to the pages, and then went back to the query. When done with one, I tagged them appropriately. Sometimes I even requested because the premise was AMAZING – and I wanted to see if maybe the writer started in the wrong place.
We have to realize that we have certain editing strengths. Oh hell yes, I can rip a manuscript apart and point out the flaws and how to potentially fix them. But sometimes, those manuscripts need a lot more love and care than I can give in a two month period. Now six months? Sure! Eight months? Definitely! But we have approximately 62 days to work on this. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t lock myself away from life for those 62 days and solely work on my mentee’s manuscript. I may want to — but I can’t.
There are things that simply can’t be done in that time regardless of dedication levels.
Not only do we have to weigh the stories we love against the time frame we have to work on them, but also against how willing the author is to take on suggestions of change. What level of adjustment are you willing to put your manuscript through? So many factors, so much to consider.
This is why I’m still not decided. Sure — I’m narrowing my list down, but I keep wavering between several for a multitude of reasons. There’s first and foremost the writing, then the premise (because you can always work on writing), then the mentee themselves, and don’t forget we actually have to try and consider marketability AS WELL AS timeframe and what we can accomplish in it.
I guess what I’m trying to tell all those hopefuls out there – whether you’re entering a contest or querying or thinking about self publishing. There are so many factors involved in this whole process – even from a lowly mentor in a cool competition’s point of view:
If you don’t get a mentor – it means precisely nothing.
What it means is that we had to make a choice. A singular choice.
Do not give up. Do not feel down. What you have gained is a community full of support and love for writing. It’s just one of the stepping stones on your journey – and if we had all the time in the world (or if Harry hadn’t destroyed all the bloody time-turners) we’d try to work with every one of you.
After all – you wrote a freaking book!