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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thanks for the like
I love #pitchwars, and became an serial pitch writer for one book, writing several pitches, I mean a lot. Landed several requests for manuscripts. Writer also … do research on who wants that manuscript. I received a few from publishers that were vanity presses and boutique. I finally landed an agent, not through #pitchwars / #pitmadness, but by polishing my pitch, which led to a blurb .. the to the (much dreaded) synopsis. Those few words on Twitter can make or break the writer, It can also lead the writer into a much recognized issue: does the pitch truly represent the novel? Does each word count? I use pit mad/ wars and find my errors. Those wee amount of words must be the sum of one’s plot. Follow me, too on Twitter – @authorclaire1. Would love to be part of this as I do a zillion critiques, suggesting edits on various genres.
This is such great advice. Thank you, thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge
This is such a wonderful initiative.
Thanks for sharing the info 🙂
Thanks both Clarissa and Damyanti… I’ve learned something new and will keep a close eye on #PitchWars!
Glad to hear that 🙂
Most of Ms. Goenawan’s advice can be applied to any time kind of pitching situation. Thanks!
Glad to hear they’re useful 🙂
The opportunity to be mentored is tempting! A good prompt to get the current manuscript in shape 🙂
All the best 🙂
How inspiring! I wish I had known about Pitchwars before I published. Maybe next time. And BTW I love your cover – more than just a piece of art it has a “pick me up” message. Wishing you every success.
Thank you so much! Obviously bias opinion, but I really think the cover is gorgeous 😀
Some great suggestions there!
Hello to both of you! I really like what you said about being nice to everyone you encounter…no matter how famous you are. Everyone started out at the same place. Great tips! Thank you for sharing them with us.
Thanks for reading 🙂
Interesting to know more about this initiative…..Never ever heard about Pitchwars :/ Thanks for the post,Damayanti 🙂
PitchWars looks interesting. I’ll have to come back to read the post when it’s dark outside. It’s hard to read the light gray text on a white background for me. :/ Maybe nighttime will help (I won’t have to deal the with sunlight LOL).
Fascinating to learn more about PitchWars. I’ve heard of them, but I haven’t participated.
Something to consider this year? 😉
Hi Damyanti and Clarissa – such an interesting post about a subject I know little about … yet more to learn – but the essential about being polite and interacting is just an important pre-requisite in life in general, but particularly in the writing fraternity … cheers Hilary
Can’t agree more, Hilary.
What a hugely informative post. Thanks so much Clarissa & Damyanti 🙂
You’re welcome, and thanks for reading 🙂
I didn’t even know that PitchWars was something so different than the Twitter Pitch Events. It sounds amazing and I would be interested in applying this year. Thank you for the tips.
One question: Is there a conflict with querying a novel before or while participating in PitchWars? I suppose if you are chosen by a mentor there might be. You wouldn’t want to waste a mentor’s time if you should secure an agent before or during the process.
Basically, you’re not supposed to query during the editing time, but querying before that is fine. Some mentees choose to notify the agents who got their fulls (and usually agents are willing to wait for the revised version) But if a mentee received an offer before the showcase, I can only imagine it’s a good news for everyone 🙂
I was thinking of trying #pitchwars. Very interesting post.
Please do try! 🙂
Fantastic tips! I’ve seen a lot of writers in Twitter pitches that haven’t did their research and haven’t read the rules. It says a lot to the agents and publishers looking at those tweets about the writers.
That’s very true (just like how we writers check agents’ Twitter accounts)
I’m sorry I missed it. I’m not that agile at Twitter, so I would have to practice at that before next time.
Good luck 😀
All good suggestions, Clarissa. And being a great community member is one of the best you gave. Thanks for telling us about yourself, your book and your philosophy of networking.
So glad to hear that. Thank you so much for your kind words 🙂
LOVE PitchWars – it’s a fabulous opportunity with an incredible number of amazing people helping others.
Love the title & cover – book looks great!
Yes, PitchWars is AWESOME! And thank you for your kind words 😀
Thank you 🙂
What a great post. I’ve had friends participate in pitchwars with success, and I’m excited to get myself to a place where I actually have something ready to pitch. Tip #7 is so important. Happy writing, and happy March! 🙂
Thank you! All the best to you too, and hope to see you this year 🙂
Great tips! I found participating in pitchwars to be a really rewarding experience. 🙂
So glad to hear that 🙂
I’ve never done a pitch war, but I’d definitely like to try sometime. I love the tips and they all make good sense–especially about being nice! And the pitch war is an excellent way to give back to the writing community. You rock!
Thank you for your kind words 🙂
Thanks for the tips! Since I have a polished manuscript, I think I’ll give it a go, even though PitchWars seems strongly oriented toward YA and young protagonists. My protag is 55–fighting ageism in publishing via fun stories!
We have Adult, NA, YA, and MG categories. Historically speaking, YA always the most popular. That being said, adult category grows in popularity too. Your story sounds fun. Best of luck to you 🙂
Thank you so much for having me 😀
You’re very welcome! All the best with your book 🙂
That’s cool you got to be a mentor and give back to other writers. That was sure a lot of submissions!
Yes, but the feeling of discovering a manuscript you love = priceless 😀