Now What? #Post-PitchWars

Currently listening to: I Really Don’t Care by Demi Lovato (feat. Cher Lloyd)*

I was unfortunately not lucky enough to land one of the coveted spots as a Pitch Wars mentee or alternate. That’s sad, but there are like 1,000 other people in the exact same boat. We entered, our queries and first chapters and manuscripts battled it out until one two were left standing for each mentor, and the rest of us fell off to the wayside.

Some entrants are off licking their wounds, others have hunkered down in their writing lairs and madly started writing their next MS, and still others are gearing up for #PitMad (September 9th on Twitter).

What am I doing? A little of all of that, but also none of it. I’m not really coddling my wounded ego or hurt feelings. Honestly, I’ve always been the type of person who assumes the worst. That way, I get a nice surprise if something goes better than I planned! So I was hopeful for a day or so after submitting my Pitch Wars entry, and I watched my four mentor picks’ Twitter feeds, wondering if I’d see any sign that they were interested in my MS. I didn’t. I mean, there were some that could have been mine, or general genre statements that matched up to mine, maybe, but I never sat there thinking “Omg, they’re talking about me. They’re considering me!”

This morning (or last night, depending on how you decide to look at it), the results were posted, and…my name was nowhere to be found. I checked Brenda Drake’s blog (where this was posted) at like 6am, because I didn’t feel like getting out of bed yet, but I needed to at least be able to claim consciousness so I could get to work on time. I might have felt a quick pang of disappointment, but then I shrugged and took a shower and that was it.

I’m not upset about not being picked. Not at all. There were over 1,000 entries to the contest, and some mentors had over 100 writers vying for their attention. My manuscript was a piece of hay in a haystack. It didn’t catch the attention of the mentors in the same way as their top pick or alternate pick. Hell–it may not even have caught their attention as much as 50 entries that weren’t mine did. Maybe they thought it was God-awful, maybe they liked it. I probably will never know. So why dwell on it?

The bit thing for me, though, is what now? I could dive back into the query trenches, as one fellow entrant put it. But I’m not sure yet if I will. My latest batch of queries is almost entirely resolved, aside from a few that I can consider CNRs by the end of the week and a few that I’ve given up hope on because the agents have a bit of a habit of just responding…eventually, maybe, or absolutely never, and no one seems quite able to pin down any rhyme or reason to it.

Self-publishing is another option. I’m confident in the MS I entered to Pitch Wars. I’m proud of it, I’ve spent months upon months polishing it, editing it, having others read it, critique it, edit it…I’m ready for it to be published. I’ve tried the traditional route, and maybe I’m not patient, but it’s not been panning out for me so far. And I have other WIPs that will probably fare better in that arena–they’re more commercial, or more in line with current trends. That’s why I also have a draft of my manuscript formatted for self-publishing in paperback and Kindle. I’ve been prepared on that count for a while. I spent months researching the pros and cons of both traditional and self publishing. I’m not looking to get rich off my books; I don’t even care if I manage to pay a single bill with my sales. That’s not important to me. What I do have an interest in, though, is getting a work I’m very proud of (and I would say rightly proud of) out there where people can see it and buy it and read it.

So now I’m just…waiting. I’m not going to rush to self-publish as a knee-jerk reaction to not getting picked in PitchWars. Maybe I’ll send another query or two, test the waters one more time. Maybe I’ll take part in #PitMad and give myself another shot to catch some agents’ attention that way. Or maybe a month from now my book will be available on Amazon.com.

While I struggle to make up my mind, I have a WIP that is badly in need of attention, and it involves familiarizing myself with regional Irish accents.

~Sofia

*no link today because I’m lazy and also may or may not be at work and people will frown at me if they see me using Youtube
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Winding Down from #PitchWars (Or, “What to do While We Wait”)

Currently listening to: Counting Stars, by OneRebuplic

If you’re like me, you submitted your entry to #PItchWars a few days ago, and you’re anxiously waiting for the mentors to make (and reveal) their mentee picks.

Also if you’re like me, you’ve been looking for ways to distract yourself. Because seriously, this is some stressful business. Why did we even enter to begin with? Well, because we’re writers and we have a manuscript we want the world to see, and we’re eager to take whatever opportunities we can to try to make that happen. But leading up to the submission deadline, and in the days following it, it’s been a huge bundle of stress. Waiting sucks. Waiting for responses on query letters to agents, waiting for the Pitch Wars mentor picks, waiting, waiting waiting.

I have never been a patient person. Lacking that particular virtue means that anything involving my manuscript is basically hell, and that hell is just wearing a different pair of high heels depending on exactly what I’m waiting on. So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of ways to distract myself when I have to wait for things. Might help a few fellow stressed-out potential-mentees.

  1. Write more. Seriously, I always have between 2 and 6 works-in-progress. This is because I get a lot of ideas at random and don’t like to let go of them, and because I have a nasty tendency toward writer’s block. When I get blocked on one project, I need to have another project I can jump over to. I’ve never had a day go by when I can’t think of anything to write at all, even though I’ve had entire weeks go by when I couldn’t figure out what to do for a single, specific project. Writing anything at all helps keep me sane during the waiting. Right at this moment, I have four WIPs open on my laptop. Two are related to the MS I entered to Pitch Wars, playing around more in the world I created for that story, and the other two are connected WIPs–a story and its sequel. I’ve written quite a bit on all of them, today. Lots of inspiration flowing, and I think it’s because my current options are either that, or go completely mad wondering about Pitch Wars.
  2. Listen to music. I’m one of those people who basically subsists off music. I can’t even get my makeup on in the mornings without slipping my headphones in at some point, let alone get to work. I mean, I can, but God help anyone who interacts with me before I’ve listened to some music. I’m basically a zombie, but angrier. Music also doubles as a wonderful distraction. Any time I don’t want to think about something, in go the headphones.
  3. Find a new series to marathon on Netflix. Or rewatch one. I’ve made it through Lost Girl, and Sherlock again so far.
  4. Stalk the #PitchWars feed on Twitter. Or, alternately, stalk the mentor feed. But do this sparingly, because it will seriously drive you batty. Every time one of your mentor picks says something about an entry, you’ll wonder if it’s yours. Or you’ll know it’s not yours, and wonder if they read yours, if they liked it, if they hated it…And God help you if you see one of your mentors talking about having found “the one”, or having their picks narrowed down. You’ll either get ridiculously hopeful, daring to dream that it’s you, or you’ll spiral into disappointment, fearing that it’s not.
  5. Read. Go find a new book or an old favorite and dive in. Don’t think about any of your writing, and just enjoy someone else’s display of skill for a while.
  6. Watch a movie (like a movie based on a book!)

Good luck to all my fellow Pitch Wars contestants! We still have about a week and a half to wait for the official mentee announcements, I believe, so try not to go too crazy!

~Sofia

Pre-#PitchWars Panic

Currently listening to: Welcome to Wonderland, from Wonderland: Alice’s New Musical Adventure*

 

SURPRISE! Submissions for Pitch Wars ’14 are open. Five days early.

I…was caught by surprise. I mean, I mentioned that I finished a draft of a new query, right? Well, it’s just that. A draft. And not a very good one, I’ll freely admit. But that’s why I’ve enlisted some help to get it into shape before I submit it to people who will decide whether or not I’ll be participating in Pitch Wars (mentors, for even agreeing to do Pitch Wars, you all are absolutely amazing). So my query is…well, I’m working on it.

Then I see people talking about the subs they’ve already gotten for Pitch Wars.

I freak out. I mean, I’m at work, for one thing, so I shouldn’t be on Twitter to begin with (in my defense, I also never take a lunch break, so I think they can let me take a ten-minute Twitter break), and then pair that with the fact that I am unprepared to submit and even if I were prepared, I wouldn’t feel prepared and I definitely can’t go into a fit of query-editing at work.

Good news, though–even though submissions opened early, they stay open until the 18th. But now I’ve got a nagging feeling that the mentors I’ve chosen will find “the one”–the manuscript they’ll work with–before I even submit.

So I’m in a bit of a rush now. But at the same time, I’ve got to remember to take it slow. Rushing is a surefire way to make sure that my query goes out to the mentors prematurely, and then where will I be? Not picked as anybody’s mentee, that’s where. As much as it might play havoc with my nerves, I’ve got to make sure to take my time.

 

~Sofia

*how I wish I could find a video that isn’t some kind of cartoon or something. seriously, what is that?

Of Distractions and Deadlines…

Currently listening to: Pirati, by Annalisa

 

Eight days.

I have precisely that long to get my #PitchWars query written. Why not just use an existing query, you probably aren’t asking? Well, when I start a project–like submitting to a contest, for example–I like for everything to be shiny and new:

New batch of beta readers to take a look at the manuscript (or at least the beginning of it).

New round of editing to make sure everything’s as polished as I thought it was last time (there is always something else to edit; a phrase that suddenly bugs me, or a word that could be replaced with a better word…).

New synopsis.

New query.

Basically, I like “new”. I like to know that I’ve taken a fresh look at everything, and I still have faith in my manuscript. I like to know that. I need to know that I’m still in love with it. If I take a fresh look and find that some of the passion has died? I have to find out why and whether I can get that passion back, or the project is dead. If I’m not in love, how can I possibly expect anyone else to be?

I finished my latest editing pass a few days ago. Good news! I am still in love with my manuscript. I still adore the story, and the characters. It’s still a book I want to read. And that is probably the best feeling I ever have as a writer: that feeling where I read something I’ve written, and I realize that I genuinely do love reading it. Just as much as I’ve loved reading published novels by more established authors.

 

What else was I going to talk about here? Oh, right. So now we’re at the “distraction” part. I should be writing that query (and the synopsis, for that matter, just in case). It really is my top priority right now aside from that presentation I have Tuesday.

So what am I doing instead, then?

I’m writing a small collection of short stories (~4k word count each) and prepping them for submissions. Why? Honestly, I don’t know. It just seems like a thing I want to do, and now inexplicably seems like the best time to do it. I like short stories, after all, and a lot of my longer projects (including the piles and piles of half-finished NaNoWriMo projects from the past) started out as short stories. Some of them should probably turn back into short stories, because that’s the only way they’ll ever have a chance at seeing the light of day. And I’m working on a few other manuscripts because why not. I’ve got a nasty habit of starting projects as soon as the idea pops into my head, so I end up with like fifteen random bits of stories (not always starting at the beginning) all collected into a folder. It’s like hoarding, but with WIPs.

 

Maybe I’ll get back to that query after I finish the first short story…

~Sofia