Keep Going

Macarons and coffee from a Los Angeles trip

Hello wonderful people! It’s been about a week and a half since I applied to Pitch Wars, and I fully admit that I’ve been obsessed with checking my email for updates. I’ve gotten a bit better about checking, but I’m not going to lie, it’s HARD not to! And tough not to stalk the #pwteasers tag.

It’s very, very easy to get caught up in Pitch Wars and to judge our writing, and even self-worth, on whether or not we get requests for pages. I’ve certainly fallen into this trap, but I’m doing my best to not stay in this negative mindset.

One of the things that has helped keep me grounded is finding posts from people who ~didn’t~ get into Pitch Wars and have gone on to find success. I’ve found a few of my favorite stories so far and will keep adding to this post as I see them:

NYT bestselling author Karen McManus (One of Us is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret) posted on Twitter, “when I entered in 2015, I got zero requests. A month later, I started writing a book that’s been a NYT bestseller for almost 2 years. Striking out in PW means nothing for your writing future.”

Author & PW Mentor J. Elle tweeted similarly: “I did not get into pitchwars last year. My debut w/ S&S comes out Spr 21. Paths to publishing vary. ​ ​#Pitchwars is only *one* of them.​”​

Author Jennifer Yen also tweeted, “I participated in it last year and didn’t get any requests. I was agented for the same book several months later. Now, I have a book coming out in 2021. Don’t give up!​”​

And author Reese Hogan tweeted, “Might be a good time to remind #PitchWars hopefuls that I participated just last year,& though I got 1 full and 1 partial request, I did NOT get selected—and today I have a published book out from a great publisher. Keep pursuing other paths, bc you might be closer than you think!”

I’ve stopped reading the Pitch Wars #pwteasers thread (mostly, I’m only human!) and have instead sought out these types of stories. Stories that not only ring of success, but of rejection, hard work, and most importantly, stories that remind us to keep going.

I don’t expect to get into Pitch Wars; I never have. The numbers are simply against me, and this year saw the most submissions ever, at 3547 unique submissions. PW Managing Director Sarah Nicholas wrote on Twitter that this roughly equates to 134 submissions per mentor, with some outliers (some soared well past 200). By math alone, it’s extremely unlikely to happen. But that doesn’t mean the writing is bad!

Author & PW Mentor Sandra Proudman tweeted, “Being a #PitchWars mentor has served as an incredible reminder of how subjective publishing is. It really is 50% about talent and 50% about luck and the constellations all coming together at the right moment. And of course, refusing to give up through all the time this takes.​”​

And author/PW Mentor Jesse Sutanto tweeted, “Not getting chosen for #PitchWars means NOTHING. I tried twice and got zero requests. I went on to get several agent offers, and now I have a book coming out with my dream publisher in 2021. Also, ironically, I am now a mentor. So don’t give up.”

My takeaway from all of these stories? Don’t give up.

I found a quote that said, “The question isn’t ‘Am I good enough?’ It’s ‘Have I gotten better?'” I can say, without a single doubt, that I have become a better writer especially in this past year. Whether I get into Pitch Wars or not won’t change that. I hope every prospective mentee feels the same way, that they’ve gotten better this year.

Of course I’d love to get in, but the real win for me is that I applied at all. I proved to myself that I could get my manuscript ready during one of the busiest times of my life. I put my work out there and took more critiques in the past year than in any other year combined. That’s what I’m ultimately focusing on, and I’m holding on to those victories.

Whatever happens with Pitch Wars, I’m not giving up. And who knows, maybe in a few years, I’ll have a similar post to these wonderful writers above!

Have a happy week, and keep going,
Valerie

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