A #PitchWars Inbox Breakdown Part III: Beating An Undead Horse

It’s Pitch Wars eve! Soon 112 (ish) writers will be cheering. Sadly, that means 3344 will be summoning demons to exact vengeance upon the mentors who couldn’t choose them. For the former, congrats! For the latter, remember the salt circle. That’s the key to a good summoning. Also, that choice of couldn’t above was deliberate.

Laura and I received 267 entries. We could only pick one (well, two, as it turns out. Huzzah for wildcards!). There were some truly exceptional books that we simply could not work with. Wasn’t an easy choice.


Of those 267, we made 16 requests. I can honestly say I could see myself working with any one of them. Does that mean the ones we didn’t request were awful? Of course not! There were some truly brilliant books we passed over. Some because another mentor had already gripped it to their chest and run screaming into the hills with it as their The One. A few because they got offers from agents! Many, many others simply because they were good but not necessarily our cup of whiskey. That last one is the most important.

Pitch Wars is subjective.

It’s been said before and, like an undead horse, beaten into the ground over and over yet keeps coming back because it bears repeating. Publishing is an extremely subjective industry. Pitch Wars is no exception. Without fail, every year there are books that are passed over which soon find agents (and book deals!). Without fail, there are books which are selected but never find a home.

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So why do mentors pick the books they do? Maybe some draw titles from a hat. Perhaps others conduct dark rituals and divine their choice via entrails. Who knows? All I can tell you with certainty is how Laura and I approached our choice.

Much as with the entries themselves, we divvied up our requests. We read the first 50 pages of each (at which point I finally read the synopsis). If we still liked what we saw, we lobbed it at the other. This is where things got trickier. There were books one of us adored but the other felt less enthusiastic about for one reason or another. That sucked.


Typically this involved being less in love with a plot or character than hoped for (and here comes that undead horse because hey, subjectivity). A few instances saw one of us with a very clear idea of how to help the book, while the other had no clue. As a team, that’s sadly a no-go. We both have to love a book. And not love-love, love-love. Insert big heart eyes and everything.

Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you exactly why I did or didn’t connect sometimes. Something about some books simply left me more mesmerized than others.

And thus we’re back to Subjectivity, our undead stallion who just won’t take the hint. He’s kind of a jerk.


End of the day, I’m incredibly excited about the books we picked. I’m also incredibly excited about the ones we couldn’t. Trust me, mentors wish we could do a giant group hug with all of you.


In the coming weeks, we’ll be offering feedback to anyone we requested from who wasn’t selected (you can see Laura’s tweetstorm for a bit more info). I’d love to send feedback to everyone who submitted their word-babies to us, but with 267 subs … that’s just not feasible. BUT! Laura will be slapping up the various craft-related homework assignments we cobble together for our mentees onto her website for all to enjoy/learn from/use to curse us into a bottomless well of darkness. With or without Pitch Wars and our help, I fully expect all those manuscripts I read lately (and countless others we didn’t request) to find agents.

So to everyone who doesn’t see their name on that mentee list: You’re all badasses. You wrote a book! That’s an incredible feat. And sending your word-babies off into the void takes serious guts. Keep writing, keep going. It took me two years and two books to get into Pitch Wars, and another Pitch Wars plus book after that to find an agent. (And fingers crossed for a publishing deal, but it may take another book after this one!) Only way to fail is to stop trying.

Never give up, never surrender!

Also, if anyone knows a good horse exorcist, that’d be swell.

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