Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A #PitchWars Guide to Interacting with Mentors, Part 2

Pitchwars is one of the most exciting contests of the year, both for mentors and prospective mentees. It’s a huge contest, and everyone wants to be a part of it. In this three part blog series, I’m going to take a look at ways that you can benefit from the contest through your interactions with mentors, whether you’re chosen or not.

Part one of this series can be found here.

During the Selection Period:
  • DON’T tweet mentors to ask if they’re going to ask to read your manuscript. It's awkward, and it puts on us the spot. If I'm on the fence about whether I want to work with someone, making me uncomfortable on Twitter is likely to push me more towards no than yes. It's fine to tweet with other questions.
  • DO read the hashtag to get teasers and writing tips. Even mentors who aren’t in your category or genre will be tweeting general information that you might find helpful.
  • DON’T assume that all constructive tweets are about your manuscript. Usually, when I tweet about a mistake in someone’s work, it’s because I’ve seen it in at least 5 entries. We’re here to help, not make you fee bad. Also, many mentors don’t always read entries in order, so a tweet that occurs 40 seconds after you hit send likely has nothing to do with you.
  • DO talk to your friends, swap work, try to get outside during this time. Waiting can be stressful. All mentors know and understand this. You don't have to sit by the inbox waiting for requests.
    This doesn't have to be you.
  • DON’T panic if you tweet or email a mentor and they don’t reply right away. We may be reading. Even if you see tweets, some of us use apps like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to schedule tweets when we’re away. Don’t assume a mentor is online, and don’t take it personally if it takes time to reply to you. We’re doing the best we can.
  • DO be honest. Mentors frequently ask questions to find out if we’re the best fit for your work and if our styles are a match. If I ask if you’re willing to add a gay vampire to your Regency Romance, don’t say yes because you think that’s what I want to hear. Some mentors may ask questions like, “Are you willing to change the main character into a purple unicorn?” simply because we want to hear you give a thoughtful response. If you swear up and down that you’ll make any change, do anything, that’s not helpful.
  • DON’T tell a mentor they’re your #1 pick. If I’m considering your manuscript, and I find out you told Molly Mentor you’d do anything to work with her, that might leave me feeling less graciously inclined toward your work. Like with agents, you can’t really know who you’re going to want to work with until you start talking revisions. Wait to find out if my ideas for your work resonate before you tell someone else you’d rather work with them. Worse, don’t tell me and Molly both that we’re your #1 pick. Mentors talk.
  • DO be discrete. It’s OK to celebrate privately when a mentor asks to read more of your work. It’s not OK to post it on Twitter. Be mindful of other prospective mentees who may not have gotten requests yet (especially ones who subbed to the same mentor). At the same time, we love to see you all cheering each other on when you check your Twitter profiles. So stay positive, just mindful of others.
  • DON’T use an auto-DM. If I go to follow you and find out you’ve got an auto-DM, I’ll unfollow faster than you can say “Follow my Facebook page.” In fact, don't DM mentors at all unless they DM you first or say it's OK. There are few reasons for this:
    1. It's intrusive. Typically, I only DM with friends. So seeing someone I don't know pop up in there always initially makes feel a bit hesitant.
    2. It takes time away from reading subs. Last year, I read approximately 4,000 pages during the submission period. Pages, not words. Four thousand of them. That's 80-90 first chapters (which run anywhere from 10-20 pages for adult works), plus the first 50-100 pages of 10-15 more, and multiple full manuscripts. While working my day job and writing Sweet Reality. I didn't have a lot of time for DMs, so each one frustrated me more than they normally would have. When you ask questions on the hashtag or @ someone, we can respond on their own time.
    3. Whatever your question, chances are someone else has the same one. Sending a public tweet makes it more likely other people can benefit from the answer, and it saves mentors from having to type the same information over and over (see #2).
    4. With that said, if you need to drop out of the contest because you got an offer, PLEASE DON'T HESITATE to message one of the mentors you subbed to or the contest hosts. We'll all be very excited for you. (And it's polite to let us know not to spend time reading your manuscript.)
  • DO thank the mentors. We’re working hard. If you have the means, buying our books is a great way to say thanks. If you don’t, ask your library to buy it. If you read and enjoyed a mentor’s book, leave an honest review on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. And of course, “thank you” is always nice to hear. J

Stay tuned. A couple of days before the winners are announced, I’ll post Part 3: How to Interact with Mentors After the Contest.

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