So in case you missed my crazed Twitter ramblings last night, here’s my official announcement – I made it into PitchWars, a contest where nearly 2000 writers enter but only ~125 walk away with a mentor who will lead them to November’s agent round. If you only focus on the Adult end of the spectrum, where I was, there were nearly 500 adult entries and only 31 mentors to take them.
I still have to pinch myself.
Real talk for a second – I was always the weird one in my college literary classes. I did well in them, but I could never write the speculative fiction I truly adored there. Then, when I’d go to SFF cons and share my writing, there was always a disconnect there too. I started to wonder if the dedicated SFF fans were really my audience, or if I should consider a more mainstream audience. Or if I had an audience period. Frankly, depending on how this worked out, I may have put Paradisa in a drawer for years and told myself to move onto the next.
I’ve been writing since I was 6, and making up stories since I was 3. This is over 20 years of living in my head that’s finally starting to pay off. I’m only 24, so many from the outside suspect I’m just getting started. They don’t see the million words of Heroes fanfiction in high school. They don’t see the three completed screenplays in middle school, or my first completed book in 4th grade (it was only like 5000 words but it was a book to me!), or my short stories in college, or my half-finished NaNoWriMo book from 2012, or my year of submitting to literary magazines, or my dad’s red pen over every first chapter I ever brought him, or my binder full of juvenilia from 10 different novels I tried to start between age 6 and age 21.
It is easy to feel disheartened and impatient after 20 years of honing craft. I haven’t even hit “success” yet – I still don’t have an agent or a publishing contract – but this is a big leap forward. It’s a kernel of validation that time I’ve devoted to this wasn’t meaningless, and that I can actually use my born desire to tell stories.
I submitted to 6 mentors. 2 of them requested fulls. Both full requests came in the first 5 days of the contest, and then I waited in silence for two weeks.
Michelle Hazen ultimately picked me. Although I initially worried my book didn’t have enough of a romance subplot to catch her eye, she liked action books and we’re both kindred spirits in fandom. For me, this was less about meeting the line by line requests of her wish list (because I met very few, except bromance and axes :P) and more a sense of her as a person. As a fellow fangirl and fanfiction writer, I could tell she wanted something to “ship,” not just romance for the sake of romance. I wrote Paradisa with the goal of creating a fandom for it, and to stroke the shipping fires, since that’s the world that I come from. If anyone is my audience, it’s fangirls! To see it resonate with one is awesome.
Additionally, a note to those who did not get in this year: please do not give up. Your MS just didn’t find its soulmate this round. I was a heartbeat away from self-rejecting on Michelle because of the romance thing. Thank god I didn’t! It turns out she’s the perfect person for it. So keep at it. Knock on every door. Don’t count yourself out. You will find your champion.
What now? Michelle will send me her suggested edits soon, and then we get to work. I have until October 31st to have a polished, shiny, complete manuscript, along with a query and pitch. Luckily this falls in time for me to get my edits back from Leona Wisoker, my copyeditor. Then, in early November. I will have a 250-300 word pitch+sample combo to present to a varied panel of agents. If it catches their eye, they may request more material. Pitch Wars tends to have a run rate of 50% of writers getting offers of representation from the agent round, and I think another 10% usually find representation within the calendar year through other methods. At worst, you walk away with an agent-ready manuscript and query that you can pitch yourself, along with the support group of the entire Pitch Wars family.
I’m in it to win it, ya’ll. This book is three years of hard work deep, and I’m not quitting at the finish line. Thanks to all of you for encouraging me and sticking with me along the way. The rest of 2016 is sure to be interesting ;)