So I know you’ve got to be burning with curiosity: NOW WHAT? How do mentors pick between all these entries?!
Well, every mentor works differently, even within a team. Some mentors are requesting a lot at once. Some are spreading them out. Some are doing batches. There is no rule book, except we have to have our picks in by a certain time on the 24th so the wars can sort out before the announcement post on the 25th. Up to then? Well, that’s top secret. 😉
Keep in mind, this is my opinion only, and this is an incredibly subjective process-Much like the rest of publishing. And NONE of this is meant to call anyone out (I’m deliberately NOT mentioning anything only one person did.). Remember: All the good stuff is about YOUR MS. The bad stuff is about someone you don’t like’s.
**EDITED TO ADD: Note: I’m not answering comments that seem to relate to individual #pitchwars entries. Those are OVERALL generalizations, there may be exceptions made if something blows us away!***
So this year, KT and I got ~113 entries, ignoring duplicate submissions. This made me happy, as I was expecting around 100.
3 of those were genres we weren’t looking for (I suspect either they looked at LAST YEAR’s wishlist when I wanted romance/WF, or hit the wrong mentor’s name. Consider it like submitting to the wrong agent at an agency-Yes, it’s a little detail, but it’s an important detail. This is why I always suggest looking at the most up to date information you can find when researching agents, and check it against their personal site, if they have one listed. Things change in publishing all the time, you have to make sure you’re getting the most accurate information you can.
Of that 110 remaining, I read through all of them over the weekend, starting with the pages, then reading over the query. Why start with pages? Because a lot of these queries were not good. I’d suggest almost all of you read Query Shark and look at what works on there, then follow her advice. Take heart- the quality of the query didn’t determine your sorting. I almost always toss out the query and redo it once I read the full anyway.
I divided entries into 3 categories-WANT MORE, Maybe, and Probably Not. Most of the ones in the Probably Not tag are ones where the writing didn’t resonate with me. This doesn’t mean it’s bad, but some common problems:
- They had plot elements integral to the story we had SPECIFICALLY said we didn’t want. It’s one thing if it’s a side mention, we can fix that. It’s another if that’s a central part of your story/character line.
- The writing involved a lot of telling, or “As you know, Bob,” conversations.
- The concept wasn’t something we connected to. (Alas, no way for you to know this.)
- It was too far out of debut range on word count-low or high! Generally, for Adult SF/fantasy=90-110k, MAYBE 120k if you’ve got a really complex storyline and can keep the pacing tight. We have 2 months to fix the story, so this isn’t a disqualifier as such. But realistically, adjusting by more than 20k would have SEVERE effects on the whole, along with whatever else we wanted to change, and it’d be hard to pull off in the time we have.
The maybes were ones where:
- The writing was only good (as opposed to amazing!) but the concept was something I wasn’t super excited about.
- I loved the concept but the writing was good, not great, and I wasn’t entirely connecting with the voice.
- It was something I wasn’t sure on, so I left it in the maybe rather than no until I had a chance to chat with KT about it.
The WANT MORE is obvious. Strong writing, strong, marketable concepts where I get to the end of the chapter and go “Crap, why’d it stop? I want more!!!”
So then once KT did the same, we looked for overlap. No, you don’t get numbers on this part yet, because we’re still sorting some of them.
There are a lot with amazing diversity and some really fantastic concepts in here. It comes down to the writing+marketability. As far as feedback: I’ll definitely be sending feedback to any ones we request more on that don’t get picked by someone in the contest. I might also send feedback to some of the others as well, if I have time. BIG if, because October promises to be very busy. Maybe I’ll put the ones I’d want to give feedback to in a hat and pull them? Maybe I’ll have people comment here. We’ll see. I’m sure even if the feedback happened in November, no one would argue, right? 😉
Now what happens? We’re reading the fulls we’ve already requested, and will likely request more of others. I’ve had a REALLY busy weekend (Coffee with my aunt/uncle and housework on Saturday, Museum of Art and an amazing dinner with Owen’s parents for his birthday took up almost all of Sunday.) so I’m just sitting down to these fulls so far. I’ll be taking notes using the synopsis (I’ll print them all out and just scribble thoughts on them. It’s not fancy, but it works!!).
Anything else you guys want to know, in general?