Pitchwars is a wonderful mentoring program, and if you’re applying, congratulations! If you’ve reached out to other hopefuls, or spoken to mentors, you’re on your way to developing your own community. The writing life is hard, and mutual support can go a long way in nurturing the storyteller in all of us.
With the submission dates fast approaching, here are a few last-minute revision tips to get that submission package in shape. (ICYMI: My Pitchwars Mentor wishlist here.)
These are things you can do on the last days in order to spit-polish your submission package, after you’ve got it beta-read by several trusted readers, followed good query-writing advice, and avoided the common query-writing pitfalls:
- For Pitchwars, specifically, the synopsis and the query letter are very important. Each mentor gets dozens, if not hundreds of submissions–it is important to stand out from the crowd. You need a premise that hooks, a first line in a synopsis or query that grabs the reader. The same rule applies for the writing sample, of course–hook with that first line and keep them reading.
- You want to make sure that your submission package is free of proofing errors. A typo is not a deal-breaker (not for me, at least, and for most mentors, I’m guessing), but you want to show you’re a professional. A clean, error-free package means you are willing to invest time and effort. In other competitions–for short stories or novels, you do not want typos to be the only difference between your work and that of a competitor.
- Change the font for the text you’re submitting. Then, read it aloud and read it backwards (last paragraph first).
- Give yourself a break before submitting: make sure you have your package ready to go a few days before the deadline. Leave it aside for a day or two. Time away from it will give you an objective viewpoint, and errors will tend to jump out. As well, if you take your time with the submission process itself, you’re less likely to make errors.
- Make a last check of the wishlists of the mentors you’re submitting to: you might catch something you missed out earlier, and tweak your submission package accordingly. You do not have to customize queries to mentors, however, as it all goes into one submission form.
- Most importantly, remember to have fun. (Build community. That way you gain a lot in terms of support, beta-readers, cheerleaders.)
All the best to all Pitchwars hopefuls! Remember not to stress about this, because pitchwars is just one of many paths to publication. Writing is a career, and while receiving a mentorship will be helpful, not receiving one is not the end of the world.
Are you applying to Pitchwars? Any other writing mentor program? As a writer, what would you expect from a mentor? What sort of support have you received from the writing community?
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