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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dear Future Mentees (sing it like Meghan Trainor, minus the innuendos.)

Hi. 2014 Pitch Wars Mentee here, looking to offer some unsolicited advice.

First thing, you just got some really great news, so take some time to celebrate!


Now, once you've gotten your fill of celebration, you've got to buckle down and get to work. You've got your edit letter and maybe even some writing assignments from your mentor. You might be ditching subplots or characters or even changing your ending. There will be suggested edits both big and small.

So take your mentor's advice and mull it over. You've got time, you don't need to start on Day 2 of the  revision process. It will be hard work but you can do it. And more importantly--you want to do it.

Coach Taylor is your mentor--you should BE so lucky as to have Coach yell at you.
Matt Saracen is you. Spoiler alert: You are awesome.





Kwabam!
For almost all of you, there will be edits that make perfect sense the moment you hear them. They'll click so perfectly in your brain that, whether they are big or small, you'll be itching to get started on them.

And there may also be one or two that leave you scratching your head.

So here comes my first piece of advice: Trust the process.

Your mentor picked you because he or she LOVES your story. Your mentor gets your story. And no matter how long you've been writing, your mentor has been further down this whole Path to Publication Thing than you've been.

THEY ARE YOUR COACH TAYLOR AND YOUR TIM GUNN.


While you should definitely feel empowered to decline his or her suggestions, always remember--every suggestion your mentor makes, it's because he or she believes it will help your story. So if you don't agree, or if you don't understand, talk to your mentor. Hashing things out is part of the mentor-mentee process.

The mentors are volunteering their time! They were not conscripted into this. They want to help you. And while they also have lives, and jobs, and revisions of their own, they also want to hear from you. So shoot them an email and ask to chat it over, work on the suggested edits that you understand/agree with, and be patient. They will get back to you and they will try to help you see why they suggested A, B, or C.

There will be a few moments that feel like this.
But if you're very lucky, you're going to walk away from Pitch Wars with a partnership like this.
Minus the felonies.
Then, before you know it, the showcase will be here. This brings me to my second piece of advice: Chillax.
Yeah, you're the leader of the free world with the moves of Beyonce and an intergalactic pizza. HATERS TO THE LEFT.
I know that's going to be hard for some of you. But the fact is, the most important part of Pitch Wars JUST HAPPENED -- it was the revision process. By the time my entry went up on the showcase, my manuscript and query were 100% better from the first versions I sent Emily. And yes, it was a little hard to keep hitting refresh on my entry, hoping an agent would bite and realizing that my wildest dreams were not about to come true.

But do you know what happened next for me -- and for dozens of the other 2014 Pitch Wars mentees?

I queried my novel, just like you would without Pitch Wars. Agents started requesting partials, then fulls. And six weeks after I was despondently refreshing my entry, my agent was emailing me to set up a phone call. 

Yes. THAT call.



That can and will happen to soooo many of you! So take the revision seriously and forget about the showcase, as much as you can. Because the biggest prize in Pitch Wars? YOU ALREADY WON IT: the chance to fine tune your manuscript with a more experienced writer who loves the shit out of it.

Final piece of advice: Be gracious.

Be cool to your mentor, they want to help you! Be cool to Brenda and Nikki and the other folks running the contest, it is way harder than it looks (and let's be honest, it looks pretty difficult). And take the time to thank them--they won't get sick of hearing it!

Aw shucks
And finally, be cool to your fellow Mentees. It sounds easy, but trust me. There will be a moment when Molly Mentee, who you REALLY like as a person and admire as a writer, is getting 28 requests in the showcase and 14 agent offers and a book deal like six seconds after you send off your first cold query, when you feel like freaking the eff out because why isn't this happening for you?


RESIST THAT URGE (and never waste pizza). At the end of the day, you know better than that. Comparison is the thief of joy. Your journey is not another person's journey and someone else's success in no way reduces your chances of success.

The 2014 Pitch Wars Facebook Support Group (not its real name) is still going strong a year after Pitch Wars. These people are your people. Celebrate with them!

In short, you are the Dillon Panthers and Griffindor House wrapped into one!
You go, Glenn Coco!
Congrats again! I'm really looking forward to seeing the amazing things that you all do.


For more advice and encouragement from the Pitch Wars Class of 2014, check out:


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