Here on Daily (w)rite, as part of the guest post series, it is my absolute pleasure today to welcome Clarissa Goenawan, debut author of Rainbirds , published just yesterday by Soho Press. I’m excited for her, and urge you all to check out her spanking new book. She’s here today to dish out tips on the #Pitchwars contest held on twitter.
Take it away, Clarissa!
PitchWars is a contest where authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents—a great opportunity for un-agented writers!
About two years ago, I got to know some PitchWars mentors. They suggested I join as a mentor for the next cycle, and the idea immediately struck a chord.
You see, I’ve greatly benefited from the WoMentoring Program, a free mentorship for and from women writers. My mentor was Jenny Ashcroft.
Jenny helped me polish my submission package, dished out writing tips, and most importantly, gave me plenty of encouragement. She was the one who suggested applying for the Bath Novel Award. I could never thank Jenny enough for her generosity. Her influence in my writing career is huge. And I wish to pass Jenny’s kindness to other emerging writers.
Brenda got in touch with me, and shortly after, I officially became one of the #PitchWars mentors. I started composing my wish list weeks in advance (or was it months?) In preparation for #PitchWars, I finished all my uncompleted works. I was all geared up!
Unsurprisingly, not everything went according to plan. Around the same time, I received #Rainbirds galley, which had to approved very soon. And then, my husband got deployed overseas for a month. Also, kids fell sick one by one. But the biggest surprise was that I received almost 150 submissions! I’d only been expecting about 50.
Despite the exhaustion, #PitchWars has been a very rewarding experience. I learned a lot about slush reading and developed an even greater appreciation for my agents and my editors. Not to mention the best part: I made a lot of new friends!
Clarissa’s tips to increase your chance of getting selected for PitchWars:
- Do your research
Read each mentors’ wish list. Keeping in mind the huge number of submissions, your best bet is to apply to mentors who’re interested in your genre. No matter how mentor-struck you are, don’t waste your option.
2. Create a strong query, and opening pages
Make sure that your query contains a strong hook or a great premise. Capture my attention. Entice me to read further. And what am I looking for on the sample pages? Good writing, that’s a must. Other plus points include an intriguing opening, characters I can relate to and root for, and a strong voice. Also, the x-factor, which is kind of hard to describe, and basically is, “I’ll recognize it when I see it.”
3. The manuscript needs to be ready
If you’re selected as a mentee, you’re going to edit the entire manuscript together with your mentor. But that doesn’t mean you can submit your early draft. Your manuscript should already have been workshopped a couple of times, well-edited, and close to query-ready.
4. Know the expectation for your genre
It can be anything from the writing style, the type of ending to expect, or even the typical word count. Of course, there are exceptions, but those are extremely few and far between.
5. Participate on Twitter
Make full use of #PitchWars related hastag. You can use #askmentor to ask questions, and #CPMatch is great to find a critique partner. Interact with other participants—a lot of them are happy to trade materials. If you’re good at handling stress (or simply want more excitement in your life?), #pwteaser can be super fun.
6. Donate to Pitchwars and and participate in the Scavenger Hunt
Last year, for a small donation, you could get two additional
entries. And talking about Scavenger Hunt, who knows you might get lucky.
7. Be a great community member
Be kind to everyone you interact with. Mentors do stalk their prospective mentees. Bullying is never tolerated in #PitchWars. I don’t care how famous you are, but I want to know if you’re the kind of person I’d be happy to work with for the next two months (and possibly more!) It always pays to be a nice person.
Good luck, and don’t forget to have fun!
Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born Singaporean writer. Her award-winning short fiction has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in Singapore, Australia, the UK, and the US. Rainbirds is her first novel. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram.
You can meet her at her Singapore book launch at the Arts House at 5.30 pm on Saturday, 10th of March.
Are you a reader, a writer, or both? Are you a self-published or traditionally published author? Have you participated in or intend to participate in Pitchwars?
Do you like literary fiction? As a reader or writer, do you have questions for Clarissa Goenawan?
This post was written for the IWSG. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for organizing and hosting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) every month! Go to the site to see the other participants. In this group we writers share tips, self-doubt, insecurities, and of course, discuss the act of writing. If you’re a writer and a blogger, go join rightaway! Co-hosts this month are:Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner!
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