PitchWars!: On rejection and success

Here’s what I did upon seeing my name on the PitchWars 2015 list: Jump off my  couch and run to my husband’s office, leaping all the way and scaring the hell out of my cats. I am thrilled to be mentored by the amazing Laura Heffernan, and working with Krista Merle on #TeamAwesome. Hands down PitchWars is the best thing to happen for me and my book. I cannot overstate my excitement.

But it’s tough to see how many people were crushed by not getting in this year, and I thought I’d throw out some thoughts.

First of all, I have been there. We have ALL been there. Rejection, in its own way, gets easier. I cried during Query Kombat in the gym sauna when I lost in the second round. I cried for my entire commute home after an agent rejection on a partial this summer. But after another rejection this summer, I was able to shrug and say, “well, it’s not for her.” Developing a thick skin requires you to remember it is a rare book or piece of art that everyone loves, or even likes. In the case of PitchWars, there were gazillions of mentors who said they received dozens of entries that were great, but weren’t for them. Subjectivity: It’s a real thing.

If you didn’t get in, remind yourself why you wrote your book. What did you want to say? What’s your goal? If it’s to sign with an agent and get a book deal, super, keep going. But it’s also okay to say you wrote something because you had to, or you wrote it for your children, or you wanted to experiment in a specific genre. If you finished your book, pat yourself on the back because you are miles ahead of many other aspiring authors.

It also may be helpful to know those who made it into PitchWars are still pretty nervous. For many of us, this is a part of our dream of being a published author. Many of us have received War and Peace-length notes on things we need to change. What if our revisions bomb? What if we let our mentor down? What if we are the ONLY person who receives no agent requests and we get lots of pity emails from the other mentees, and then cycle into a never-ending spiral of despair and doubt from which we can never recover, and eventually our only friends are furry?

This may not work for everyone, but personally, it’s important for me to ask when wracked with doubt – what is the worst case scenario? It would be pretty awful to fail PitchWars; I’m not going to lie. But  I was hanging out with a member of the Air Force recently, and we discussed how if he has a bad day, people could die, or he could cause an international incident. To the best of my knowledge, no one is going to die in Pitch Wars, and none of us are going to start World War III. So we have that going for us.