Pitch Wars is a volunteer mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry experts choose one writer and spend three months helping them revise their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where literary agents can read a pitch/first page and request manuscripts from authors if they’re interested. Learn more about Pitch Wars on their website.
We are both former Pitch Wars mentees, so we’ve been in your shoes. And neither of us found an agent through the showcase but rather stuck it out and wrote whole new manuscripts that earned us agents and publishing deals. Rochelle has also since sold her Pitch Wars MS. We know the ins and outs of revising and putting in the work to find an agent even after Pitch Wars is over.
More on our books:
Wednesday Books: 1/11/22
A girl and wolf must learn to trust each other if either of them want to survive the gangster on their tails and the predators in the wild as they compete in a Mad Max style sled race across the tundra of their frozen planet.
A human girl and a shapeshifter must venture into deadly, freezing mist, past the terrifying creatures that live there, to save the future from an enemy who only cares about the past.
Roaring Brook Press: Spring 2023
A young witch is charged with protecting her sleepy hometown from fae mischief. But when a dark entity takes root in the wood, she must seek help from the unlikeliest of allies to form a coven reckless enough to take on the new threat.
Diverse and innovative YA fantasy and sci-fi. All subgenres under the SFF umbrella are fine with us. We will be accepting New Adult, but if we select you as our mentee, we would ask you to age it down to YA. (Sorry, it’s the market, not us!)
We’re drawn to fun, fast-paced, hopeful, adventure-filled stories with characters we can fall in love with. We want to feel immersed in the voice and prose – whether it's descriptive and lyrical, sharp and funny, or something unexpected. The speculative element is also important to us, and should be important to the story. For example, while we’re accepting "contemporary with a hint of magic," if you could take away the magic and still have the same story, then we’re not as likely to be hooked.
We are especially excited about diverse stories and submissions by marginalized authors. You do not have to disclose anything about your identity or whether your book is “own voices” or not, but we welcome stories that showcase diverse perspectives.
These are just a general overview of our favorite story elements in no particular order. (You're still welcome to send us your submission even if your book doesn’t have any of these. We won't know exactly what we want until we see it!)
These are things that are unlikely to grab us for various reasons unless you’ve wildly twisted it in some way.
These are the things we won’t consider at all, and may have to pass on without even reading the submission materials, depending.
First, we will read your manuscript and write an edit letter addressing any developmental edits we think will make the story stronger. We definitely will want to talk (in whatever form of communication works) about the edit letter and discuss any changes to be sure you feel confident about tackling them.
We will also read through the changes you make once you’re finished with revisions. If time allows, we might be able to squeeze in line edits but this will depend on a lot of factors and can’t be a guarantee.
Communication is key, so if there’s a point where you get stuck or need extra eyes or just want to talk about your manuscript, we’re very open to having those discussions. We’re happy to share gifs or squee in messages for support or give you the space you need to work.
As a mentee, you should be prepared to work hard, and be open to possibly making large changes to the story. This could be cutting and adding scenes, removing or editing subplots, reworking major plot points or rearranging events, rewriting whole chapters, fleshing out characters/POVs or removing them. You might end up scrapping thousands of words and writing thousands of new ones from scratch.
This sounds like a LOT, we know—but we’ve both been there!
You're never required to make the changes your mentors suggest, and if you don't agree with a suggestion, we’re happy to discuss reasoning and purpose behind our thoughts and work together to find a solution that you feel comfortable with. Counter-suggestions are encouraged and expected. This is part of the revision process that we’ve both had to do with agents and with editors so we’re here to work through the hard bits WITH you.
Whether or not you land an agent with your Pitch Wars book, the goal is to come out of the program with a stronger manuscript and better revision skills.
Note: Please know that we do have high expectations of our mentees. For our Pitch Wars books, Meg rewrote two-thirds of her entire book while Rochelle redid several major plot points and cut five characters (and then she scrapped half the book and rewrote it again later on). We really know how tough revisions are and we definitely will guide you through them, but the hard work—the writing and rewriting—is up to you.