Last year when the PitchWars Mentor Blog Hop went live, two things happened: the party on the hashtag got a little crazier, and my stress level shot up. It was tons of fun to read through all the posts, wish lists, and get a solid eye on personalities and approaches to mentoring. But as I started to narrow down the mentor list, it became so tough to make solid picks.
For anyone who’s new to PitchWars, and already stressing about choosing mentors, here’s a quick navigation guide for you:
I. DON’T PANIC
I can not stress this enough. Breathe. Eat. Relax. Cuddle your Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. You’ve got almost two weeks to finalize your picks, so don’t be afraid to go back to your list several times and rethink options.
II. MAKE A LIST
I use a spreadsheet, but do whatever works for you. List all the names of possible mentors. Write down your thoughts – what you like and what concerns you (in regards to your manuscript + their wish list = gray area). Having a list is so important, because you will go back to it again and again and second guess yourself. True story: last year I came down to 3 mentors for my last 2 slots, and pandered for days. Each one had a quirky thing they didn’t like that made a brief appearance in my MS. In the end, I had to cut one. It was the right call last year, and this year that mentor (or dynamic duo) may be on my final picks. Who knows?
III. RESEARCH. EVERY. MENTOR.
Waste a submission on someone who doesn’t want your genre. Give yourself every chance to score a mentee slot.
The mentors are AMAZING. All of them. I’ve chatted with YA mentors, romance mentors, etc, and you are not choosing your new BFFs. Or your roommates. You are choosing someone who could LOVE YOUR STORY as much as you do and help you make that amazing story better.
Breathe. Take extra care to ensure every single pick wants your genre, your age group, and doesn’t have hard no-no rules on large plot lines in your story.
IV. ASK QUESTIONS
Mentor A may love high fantasy but doesn’t like romantic elements.
Mentor B may love only low fantasy but loves romantic elements.
As you narrow down and everything starts to look gray, ask questions on the #PitchWars hashtag. Let them know you’ve read their wish lists and you’re unsure if they’re the best fit. A quick and simple conversation may help you clear up any doubts.
V. IF IN DOUBT… LOOK BEYOND THE WISHLIST
What is their mentoring style? Is their personality a good mesh with yours? Unfortunately, sometimes you have to dig deeper and really nit-pick (especially you poor YA authors with 5000 mentors).
The mentors understand that you’re not nit-picking their lives, or who they are as people. You’re searching for a home your story can be loved in. So don’t be afraid to look at everything and give your beautiful words the best shot they can have.
Choosing the right mentor is hard because you want to love them all. When the magical day finally comes and you click ‘submit’, don’t second guess yourself. You’ll have enough stress during the submission weeks, so do your research. Make sure your picks are one less thing you have to worry about.
Most of all… have fun!
Encourage other writers. Make friends. One writer I connected with last year is an agent this year. Another started a small press. Two CPs I met during last year’s competition have already sold books.
You never know what’s waiting for you right around the corner. 🙂
Original article posted on my main blog – Hàlön Chronicles.