wilting flowers

Pitch Wars: Once the applause have faded

I didn’t want to write this blog post. I thought about starting it so many times but kept putting it off. This was supposed to be my “how I got my agent” post. Or so I’d hoped. Logically I know that Pitch Wars isn’t a silver bullet and many mentees don’t end up getting an agent via the showcase, but emotionally, it’s hard to keep your expectations low. I thought the stars were aligning. I thought it was my time. I thought this manuscript was it. And honestly, it might still be. Agents are still reviewing my Pitch Wars manuscript. However, it’s clear at this point that I’m not one of those lucky people who got scooped up from the showcase that first week, or the first month, or the second…

Okay, so that opening is rather depressing, but I don’t regret my Pitch Wars experience at all. I learned a TON from my mentor. She’s great. Her feedback and advice helped me craft the best manuscript I’ve ever written, hands down. She also taught me things I will carry with me forever, not to mention that I made a friend. Aside from that, I also met so many other amazing writers. I LOVE my Pitch Wars class. They are amazingly supportive, awesome people, and each and every one of them deserve all the success they’ve had and more. And the ones like me who haven’t gotten snatched up by an agent? They ought to soon, because their work is incredible.

If you’re on the fence about entering Pitch Wars, I have one piece of advice for you: Do it. Not for the showcase, not for the chance of getting an agent, but for the amazing people (both mentors and mentees).

Okay, so how did the showcase go for me?

Well, I got several requests! Six to be exact. Yeah, some people got a LOT more than me, but given how niche my genre (fantasy romance) was and the fact that I wrote the manuscript for an adult audience (the least popular age group in the showcase for agent requests), I was very pleased with that amount of requests. Not only did I get requests from some great agents I was hoping for, I also received requests from some that weren’t on my radar or that I wasn’t sure would like my genre. Honestly, I love it when that happens because it opens a door with someone I might not have reached out to on my own.

I left the showcase feeling great. I had awesome requests, I’d already researched the additional agents I wanted to sub too, I had an amazing manuscript I loved, and a query letter I had faith in.

And that’s where everything went sideways.

The advice that Pitch Wars mentees receive is to query all your top agents at the conclusion of the showcase. Why? If you get a quick offer, you don’t want to miss out on the chance to query your dream agents. It makes total sense–for many people. Anyhow, I sent out a ton of queries that first week to all my top agents. And then I waited. And waited some more. And finally, responses rolled in. But they weren’t the excited requests for more or offers I’d hoped for. Each form rejection cut a little deeper than the last, especially since they were from dream agents. Three weeks later and zero new requests later, I was in a bad place. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t read. It even took its toll on my relationships. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever felt like more of a failure. I thought I’d done so well. That this book was IT. And I had by far the worst request rate of any manuscript I’d queried, including my first disaster manuscript that had no business being sent to anyone, much less agents.

I’d love to say that things turned around, and a flood of requests poured in. That didn’t happen either. I got a response from an agent (who’d requested my full in the showcase) which confirmed my suspicions: the writing was great, the story was great, but she didn’t think it could sell. I’d written a great book, a story of my heart, but in a genre where nothing is selling (at least not to major publishers). While I passionately love this story, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to revise it and make it what it is, I know it doesn’t have that strong commercial hook. It’s the definition of genre fantasy romance, but without that commercial appeal, traditional publishers aren’t going to buy it right now.

So what’s next? I still have some queries out there. Maybe one of those agents will love it as much as me and have a vision for how to sell it. While I wait to hear from those, I’m working on drafting a new manuscript, as well as revising an older one that I think has strong commercial potential. This isn’t the end of my story, just another chapter in a much longer epic. Hopefully, the next one holds the breakthrough I’ve been looking for.