You don’t have to win, to win!
I survived my first unpublished author competition. How I got into this can be found on Pitch Wars.
After I’d submitted, I discovered the focus was really on certain genres: Young Adult, Middle Grade and New Adult. I still haven’t discovered what New Adult is, but I’ll find out as I think my stewing fiction project may qualify. Don’t tell anyone, but I didn’t know what the difference is between memoir and narrative non-fiction. Someone has explained now!
It wasn’t that memoirs were excluded, but they certainly were not the focus. I realised I was probably not necessarily a good fit for the competition. The ultimate aim is for the mentor/author teams to pitch to a panel of agents and few of the agent panel were looking for adult and/or memoir.
I don’t care! Why don’t I care? Because one of the NINJA mentors thought so highly of my submission she has offered to help me polish my query letter and other pitch material. I’m over the moon!
There is also a great “Sekrit Project” being driven by another mentor for mentees that didn’t make the final picks: I have put my hand up! Plus a web site to seek critique partners/beta readers.
I learnt quite a bit during the competition. The most valuable thing I learnt is that an author needs an agent/editor/publisher that really loves the project. I don’t expect everyone to love my project, it is a little unique, I recognise that. If you are reading this and didn’t get picked, please read John’s article!
And that’s thing: falling in love with it. You want to fall in love with a manuscript. You want to feel passionate about it. And sometimes even when you know something is great, you don’t fall in love with it. And that is OKAY.
You might also like to look at my reaction back in April this year when I missed out on being a finalist in Best Blog Australia 2012.
The first mentor to whom I pitched published an open letter to authors who submitted to her.
Every one of them showed sufficient writing skill to reach publication – some in this draft, some with revisions required.
Then the lovely Susan Spann confirmed I was included in that statement by offering to help me. I did a little dance when I woke up this morning to find the email. The mentors already invested considerable time in the competition alone, let alone find the time to take on extra projects after the competition without a belief in the project, so I am feeling like a winner without having won anything! Susan isn’t reading my manuscript; she is helping with pitch materials. I think there is a message in there somewhere too, I just haven’t figured it out – or am too excited about the possibility to actually believe it! (Edit: Susan has since clarified she would love to read it, but just doesn’t have time until February!)
Bring on the next competition! The authors were lovely, the mentors were lovely! It was a great learning experience and I met lovely people!
A BIG thank you to the amazing Brenda Drake who organised the competition and the terrific panel of mentors who donated their time to support and help their unpublished fellow authors. This is such a generous investment of time from you all.
Good luck to the “Chosen Ones”! Looking forward to hearing who gets the winning number of agents interested and seeing you in print!