There’s that scene in the Hunger Games where Effie Trinket is standing on stage in all her glory announcing the latest victim–I mean tribute–who will be fortunate enough to go on to glory in the arena. You know the scene I mean. In some ways, as a PitchWars mentor, I feel like Effie. I get to pick ONE out of my overflowing inbox. Only ONE. And while my mentee won’t end up fighting for his or her life against a pack of near feral children, I think I know how those left behind feel as the other mentees board the train to the Capitol. I see it in the words of writers I could not choose this year. It’s so difficult to pass you all by. Please know this was a difficult and at at times, painful decision.
So why did one manuscript triumph over another in the PitchWars arena? I have to admit, I connected with a set of characters who I could not shake. I thought about them long after I finished the manuscript and went on to read others. Even when I found other gems in the submissions, I kept asking myself: can I do more for this manuscript than I could for my first choice? Will I still love this book in November? Can I walk away from it and believe in my decision?
The answer, ultimately, was no, I couldn’t walk away from it.
So what does that mean for the other manuscripts submitted to me? Some were not my genre. Others needed more work than I thought I could complete by November and in the time I have available between my job, graduate work, and my own books. Then again, there were a few books that were ALMOST THERE! Maybe it was the query letter holding the manuscript back. Maybe it was the synopsis. Over the next few months, I hope to provide those authors with some feedback on what they can do to improve their chances in the next round of querying.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing me to read your submissions. I am humbled by the number of writers who trusted me to read their work. I am so grateful for the friendships I have made during the past few months leading up to the picks. You are a talented, fun, and sometimes crazy bunch who have given me more than I can ever give back to you. Please stay with your books. Stay with the mentors and the writing community on Twitter. We’re here for you. Continue to ask us questions. Ask opinions. Engage. Writing is a solitary pastime that only other writers can truly understand. We want to share in your successes and talk you off the ledge.
Most importantly, write another book.