18 August 2014

It's Not a Competition (Just a Contest)!! Pitch Wars Lesson #1

As you know, I'm a Pitch Wars mentor for the second year in a row. For those of you who don't know about Pitch Wars, it's an annual contest hosted by Brenda Drake, where published/agented authors, editors, or interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine, preparing them to submit their manuscripts to agents. There have been a LOT of success stories from previous Pitch Wars contests, and judging from the quality of writing I've seen so far this year, I expect even more successes this time around!

One of the torture trials fun things Brenda cooked up for us this year was a series of videos, where mentors had a chance to make fools of themselves introduce themselves to the Pitch Wars community. Of course, I jumped at the chance to participate, because I'm certifiably insane I believe we only really grow when we do things that scare us. Besides, I was afraid that, if I didn't, I'd be the only Pitch Wars mentor who didn't have a video. And so I sent Brenda the 30-second clip here to include in the mentor chat video.

I know. Amazing, right? Who wouldn't want a chance to be helped along by the best Pitch Wars mentor ever?? And do you see how effortless the whole process is? Yep. I'm awesome, and I'm not afraid to admit it.


But here's my little secret:

It wasn't effortless at all.

I was shaking like crazy, stumbling over my words and feeling like a giant dork. And I almost didn't send my video in at all. Not because I didn't have faith in my abilities as a mentor, but because I kept thinking about all of the OTHER Pitch Wars mentors, and wondering how my video would stack up in comparison with theirs.

What if everyone else was more creative?

What if they were better looking?

What if I was the only one who looked like a dork, and everyone decided they'd rather miss out on the contest entirely than get stuck with that dorky mentor with a frog obsession? (Here's a fun game: How many frogs can you find hidden in my video clip?)

But here's another secret:

None of that stuff matters. Not really. Because Pitch Wars is a great contest, but it's not a competition. The whole point is to help each other get to the next level with our writing and our careers. To become better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today. (Really, isn't that the whole point of life here on earth??)

And we can totally "win" Pitch Wars even if we're not the most popular mentor or one of the contestants selected for one of the coveted mentee slots. (Fun fact: I wrote TWELVE STEPS after I didn't make it in to Pitch Wars 2012, as a final goodbye to the characters I loved from my first manuscript, intending to shelve the whole thing when I finished writing. Less than a year later, I accepted an offer of publication for my debut novel!)

And when I went back to look at the rejected clips to construct the blooper reel today, I discovered that at least ten of the nearly-forty not-good-enough videos were actually much better than I originally thought. Now that I wasn't comparing them to the better-than-Hollywood-quality videos I imagined that all of my fellow mentors were creating, I couldn't even remember why I'd deemed these clips unworthy. 

When all is said and done, It doesn't matter if I'm the "most popular" mentor or if I receive less applications than anyone else.

It doesn't matter if the mentee I eventually select for my team is fought over by all of the YA mentors or I'm the only one head-over-heels in love with his/her manuscript.

Because it's really not a competition.

That's not what Pitch Wars is all about. (It's an amazing contest, but trust me, making it into Pitch Wars isn't your only shot at success. It's just one contest. There are a ton of other opportunities waiting just around the corner!)

I promise to do my best, and that's enough.

I guarantee that by the end of this year's contest, my mentee and I will both grow as writers.

And I'm willing to bet there will be plenty of Pitch Wars success stories among those who don't officially make it into the contest as well.


  1. If I could have I would have submitted to you. :)

    1. Awww... *Giant Squish Hugs!* <3 <3 <3

    2. Your name was the very first one I clicked on and then I sobbed when I saw you were only YA. Okay, I might be exaggerating on the sobbing but everything else is true. :)

    3. :) There are so many great mentors. I'm sure you made great choices!

  2. Wow. This post should be required reading for Pitch Wars.

  3. I adore your post. It's weird to think you were as nervous about mentoring as I was about entering. And I mean for real, not just an empathic tweet. I can't wait to see your choices...one of the best things I like about PitchWars is finding new books to read.

    Thanks for making it more fun for everyone.

  4. I love that you included your bloopers too! And frogs (I'm a little lizard nuts, myself). But seriously, this was just what I needed to watch and read.