The Ready Room – A #RevPit Guide for Newcomers

Welcome to The Ready Room, where I explore random topics to help you kick off your week.

This week’s topic explores the crazy Twitter contest, #RevPit, and what it’s really all about (from the hopeful perspective). Hopefully this handy quick-guide will point you in all the right directions and help you determine whether or not #RevPit’s right for you.

The Facts

#RevPit is both an annual contest and a series of mini-events run by the editors at Revise & Resub. For the sake of brevity, we’re only going to focus on the annual contest in this post. So here’s what you need to know:

  1. Contest rules are found here. With any contest, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with how things work, what your role is as a hopeful, and what to expect from submission to choosing day to the final agent round.
  2. The annual contest is for completed, polished, and unpublished fiction manuscripts only. To find the editor that you feel may be the best fit, check out the Revise & Resub Manuscript Wish Lists.

The Fun

#RevPit is also a community of writers and editors. Some of us know one another from last year’s contest, from the 10Queries mini-event, or from hanging out #OnThePorch. One of the things we love to do on the hashtag is talk about our books. A lot.

Whether you’re new to the scene or from when dinosaurs roamed, here’s a couple ways to win at #RevPit before the contest ever starts.

  1. Stop by the hashtag and say hi. We love connecting with other writers and professionals in the larger community.
  2. Watch for editor games and get involved (or start a game of your own).
  3. Follow the editors & other writers.
  4. Join in the Blog Hop and connect with other hopefuls.
  5. Swap queries & first pages with your peers. (I personally recommend someone in your age & genre categories)
  6. Make a friend or find some critique partners.

Basically, get involved. Because whether you get chosen for the final event or not, the friends and connections you make now are going to stay with you in the months and years to come. They’re an amazing support system when you’re ready to set your book on fire and feed off the ashes.

Your Professional Brand

Here’s a solid truth about #RevPit and every other Twitter contest: your Twitter presence, your book and your pen name are a brand. From this point on, you’re no longer a person who’s written a story, you’re a professional brand.

  1. As you chat with others Twitter, on your blog, or generally talk about your book, keep something in the back of your mind: what does your presence say about you? What do you want your brand to look like today? In five years?
  2. Be professional. You’re not only representing your book, you represent who you are and how you work.
  3. From submission day to choosing day is very stressful – on both writers and editors. Here’s how to protect yourself and your brand:
    • Be professional. Whatever you’re feeling inside—and there may be a lot of feelings—always think about your outward facing appearance. What do you want people to see in your tweets?
    • Take your grievances offline. Tweeting ‘nobody loves me’ or ‘no fair’ or ‘how come nobody requested mine’ often look like one thing: whining. Is this what you want people to see in your brand?
    • Be an activist, not a deactivist. If someone says something you like, show your support with a like or retweet. However, if someone tweets something you don’t agree with, don’t deactivate another person. Your brand is not about them, it’s about you.

* * *The annual #RevPit contest is fun, it’s exciting, and a fantastic way to grow your network of friends, followers, supporters, and someday readers. If you’re on the fence about entering, all I can pass along is the amazing advice Katie McCoach gave me (paraphrased of course): if you find an opportunity to skip the slush pile straight to an agent reading your work, seize it.

Have any helpful advice or thoughts I didn’t touch on in this article? Feel free to post comments below. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

If you like this article, be sure to check out The Ready Room for more tips and tricks. You can also subscribe to my main blog and be the first to know when new content is delivered.


The Ready Room – Write Yourself a Revision Letter

Welcome to The Ready Room, where I explore random topics to help you kick off your week.

I decided to try something new this week—I wrote myself a revision letter. A few weeks ago, I reached the point in the latest iteration of my novel where I went completely book blind. Everything in my draft was a blur and the ending was a giant pile of ass cheese.

I still had tweaks I wanted to make, but I’d been pushing myself so hard on this draft that nothing made sense anymore. So I threw it at my CPs, made them promise to burn it after a ritual blood-letting, and buried myself with blog posts and book reviews. Anything to keep me distracted so I wouldn’t hear its siren call.

When I picked up my book again, my brain was still a little fuzzy and the deadline for the next revision was looming. I’d been reading blog articles while ignoring the book, and one that kept popping up was about writing yourself a full developmental revision. I’ve written enough revision letters and reviews that I have a fairly familiar method now, but when it comes to my own work, search and destroy brain is always on high-alert.

Shutting off the ‘edit everything now’ brain is tough, but it’s a skill I want to have a stronger grasp on. So, I blew the ashes off my blood-soaked story, slapped it on the kindle, and opened up my standard revision document.

Chapters 1-3: No no no. I have to fix. This shouldn’t be here. It doesn’t even make sense to focus on for this time period. (the book spans 4000 years)
Chapters 4-7: Hmmm… I wonder if I setup these two other POVs right.
Chapter 8: What… the hell… is going on?

^Real reactions. Probably with swearing. (Most definitely with swearing) The first few chapters were the hardest. Not because they were much of a mess, but because I already had a full page of small fixes and I was dying to get them repaired.

Yet, it was right around chapter 8 that the truth hammered home. This chapter is a critical link between everything that’s happened before and all that comes after. It’s a nexus point in the story, and it was a disaster. This was the moment my writer brain officially turned off and I started to really critique my own work like a reader would.

The end result? A 25-page critique letter on all the problems in my story.

This skill is invaluable, and something I will be doing for all my future stories. So, if you’re out there reading this article and thinking about whether or not to try writing a revision letter for your own work, do it. Here’s a little something to help you get started:

  1. Use your Google-fu and scour the web for critique questions. Grab from several sources and block them out in a document, or revision template. Make it look official, because you’re about to officially kick your own ass.
  2. Slap your story on kindle or print out. Put that sucker in some form that doesn’t allow you to quickly fix that spelling error.
  3. Write your reactions to the story and keep them blocked out by chapter. Does a line of dialogue need to be cut? Note it. Is that paragraph exposition heavy? Note it. But by having a set of reactions chapter by chapter, the notes will offer you a roadmap of small to large fixes to tackle at the end.
  4. If you’re reading on a kindle, turn off the % location. Note where the act turns, midpoint and dark moments are landing. Are they in the right place? This is really useful to help you see how the story structure is holding up.

When you’re finished reading your story, not only will you have a tangible set of developmental notes for yourself, but also a reader’s eye view of the tale as a whole. And if you need some extra tools to help as you dive into your next round of revisions, here’s a few for your journey: Story structure mash-up | Big picture to fiddly bits | The final cleanup.

* * *If you have any further questions on this process, or you just need some moral support as you tackle your own revision letter, feel free to leave a comment below. Good luck and don’t forget your towel. 🙂

If you like this article, be sure to check out The Ready Room for more tips and tricks. You can also subscribe to my main blog and be the first to know when new content is delivered.