Today I’m excited to have Despina Karras guest blogging for me. Despina was one of my picks during the last round of Pitch to Publication. I asked her to share some of her wisdom with you guys. Here’s what she had to say.
Pitch to Publication was a great experience for me. My manuscript was selected by THE most awesome editor ever, Kyra Nelson (I’m not biased—she’s seriously amazing) and together we worked on revisions for a little over a month. I now have a stronger manuscript, wonderful new friends (including Kyra), and more confidence in my writing and revisions.
What a lot of people don’t know is I entered Pitch to Publication a year ago and ultimately wasn’t selected, so I’ve been on both sides of the contest results. There’s so much to gain by entering, even if you aren’t selected, so I highly encourage it. I hope some of the following advice will be helpful to you.
You only need a query and sample pages to enter Pitch to Publication, but make sure your entire manuscript is completely polished and you have a synopsis ready to go. When I entered I was asked for a partial soon after the entry window closed and a synopsis shortly before editor selections were made. Editors could ask for materials at any time.
So you made the entry dateline. Great! Now what? Well, if you’re anything like me you’ll probably stalk your selected editors’ Twitter accounts to see what they’re saying about the submissions they’re getting. While it’s incredibly fun to do this (not to mention informative) don’t let the feeds consume you. You can drive yourself crazy wondering if every tweet is about your entry. There’s a wealth of knowledge in the editors’ tweets—just don’t take each one personally.
While it’s always great meeting new people, other Pitch to Publication participants are in your shoes. They’re feeling what you’re feeling. Connecting with them is a great way to see you’re not alone. When my manuscript was selected one of the other mentees started a group for us. To this day, this group has been one of my biggest support systems. You can also find great CPs this way.
It’s a great feeling when an editor asks to see more of your work. You have every right to be happy about it. Have yourself a little dance party, tell your closest friends—but don’t brag about it on social media. For one thing, a request doesn’t guarantee your manuscript will be selected. But more importantly there are going to be so many writers who don’t receive requests and, simply, it just isn’t nice to flaunt you got one.
If your manuscript isn’t selected but an editor has taken the time to give you feedback, PLEASE thank them. They’re busy people just like you and me so it’s really nice when they take time to give advice. I received feedback from an editor last year when I didn’t make it in and it was invaluable during revisions.
-Get ready to work hard.
If an editor chooses your manuscript, CONGRATULATIONS! Soak it all in, then prepare yourself for lots of work. When Kyra and I first talked edits, she asked if I would be comfortable with cutting 30K words from my 93K manuscript. I’ll be honest – when I read that message I had a slight panic attack. But after a little (okay, a LOT) of freaking out and consideration, I told her I’d do it. The editors want their mentees to succeed, so trust them. Take a day and let their suggestions sink in, and I promise they won’t seem as intimidating. Just don’t be surprised if you’re asked to trim a third of your book or get rid of a character. I had to do both.
-Know this may not be the end of the road.
Ideally, I’d love to say I have a literary agent after participating in Pitch to Publication. That’s not the case. Most of the mentees in my class don’t have representation yet. You may wonder why I’d encourage people to enter the contest if I didn’t get an agent from it. The fact is, after working with Kyra, my manuscript has never been stronger. I queried shortly after Pitch to Publication and received so many partial and full requests. One request has even led to a second round revise and resubmit. I can’t promise you’ll get an offer of representation during this contest, but I CAN promise your manuscript will look great and be more appealing to agents.
Good luck to everyone entering! I hope you have an experience as rewarding as mine.