It’s been a month since I wrote this post about my publishing journey, and since a couple of milestones have passed since then, I thought it was time for an update.
PitchWars mentees were announced!
I was not chosen for PitchWars, and yet that process turned out to be an enormous influence on my next steps forward. I’ll explain, but first, let’s go back and talk a bit about my experience, now that the dust has cleared.
When I applied to PitchWars, I submitted my materials to four mentors as allowed by the rules of the contest. If I’m being honest, though, I had a top choice—one mentor in particular whose person and wish list seemed to match just perfectly with my manuscript. My CP and I combed through the entire list, agonizing over which of the other mentors might be a good fit, but that top choice mentor was a no-brainer for both of us from the start. So when that mentor turned out to be the only one to request my full manuscript, I wasn’t deflated in the least. Obviously, it was still going to be a long-shot, but it truly felt like I was being given the best shot possible.
When the mentee list was published and my name wasn’t on it, I was disappointed, but not surprised. After all, there were thousands of entries for the contest. Plus, I’d spent the entire submission period getting the first draft of my next book ready so that I’d have a joyful way forward no matter what happened. I was very excited about the draft I’d written, and eager to begin revisions. Still, though I was far from devastated by the outcome, not being chosen left me in the same perpetual sea of low-level self-doubt in which I’d spent the entirety of my first year of querying. You know that sea. You’ve been there. I’d had lots of positive feedback from teens and other writers who had read my manuscript. I’d received encouraging comments from some agents who read the first few chapters. But for all the optimistic comments regarding my voice and talent, no one had loved it enough to sign me, and most not enough to request the full. So what if the book just wasn’t all that good? What if I wasn’t all that good?
Then the letter arrived. Technically, it was a rejection letter. The mentor who had requested my manuscript had rejected it in the end—that I already knew. But the letter… that letter. It fished me out of the sea. This mentor had loved my book, they said. It had made it to their top five. They praised it and me in caps-locked terms. Words like “phenomenal” were used. They also explained that they felt it would be much easier to pitch as a second book—that the complexity of the ending and the book’s complicated gender experience were hard to convey in a query-sized pitch, and that they felt it would do much better once I already had an agent who would know the best way to pitch it.
Reader, I cried. I mean, these thoughts were not entirely new. My CP and I had wrestled for months over the whether I should shelve that book in favor of the one I was writing because of exactly the issues this mentor described. Writers in a group chat I belong to had long hypothesized that the concept was a hard sell as a debut. But most of the people saying these things had not actually read the book, so the possibility that it might just not be that good was still very real. And to be fair, it still is. Certainly this mentor may have had issues with the book they didn’t have time to mention in their feedback letter, and always these things are a matter of subjective taste. Perhaps this book will never see the light of day. Perhaps it can never be sold. Still, I can’t possibly express how far that rejection went in giving me the confidence to continue on the path I’d already chosen: to finish my new book and get started on my next querying adventure.
The new adventure has begun!
This will probably be the last I speak publicly about my journey with the new book until such time as something newsworthy should occur—should it ever occur. But a polished draft is ready to go, and I couldn’t be more excited to get it out there, even if the process ends up dunking me back into the sea. Will you find me back here in a year, repeating this adventure with yet another book? It’s certainly possible. But for now, I’ve got the wind in my sails and… okay, that’s more than enough for the seafaring metaphors.