Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I See You, Pitch Wars Hopefuls. I Really Do.

Last night and this morning I spent a lot of time sifting through queries for Pitch Wars hopefuls. At some point I read a query that just didn't gel for me. It had elements I'd asked for in my wishlist, and the writing wasn't bad. But it didn't engage my imagination or heart, and I couldn't really tell you why. I simply didn't feel the story. So, I sorted that query into the "Not for Me" pile.

Then it hit me.

I sat back, blinked and realized I'd just said no to an author who'd done nothing wrong.

Now, I didn't make that decision blithely. When I'm evaluating dozens of pieces of work, I become aware of a spark--this intangible thing that makes me sit up and take notice. And feel excited. Or, conversely, when a query or first chapter lacks that spark. It becomes fairly easy to identify what's going to bake my cookies.

But I do, absolutely, 100%, empathize with the authors on the other side of this process. I've been there. I've got countless rejection emails in my files. And rejections from my own agent, and publishers, and bad reviews . . . I get it. It's hard and it hurts. You want everyone to love your baby.

The bottom line is, though, that as a mentor I can't take everyone. I can't read every manuscript to dig for hidden gems. I have to trust my gut about what's going to feed my energy (mental and physical) as we walk through this process.

But here's the good news: I literally haven't read a single query so far that's bad. The quality of these submissions surprises and excites me. Because I know, even if I'm not the right mentor for these projects, someone else might be. And even if no mentor chooses them, there will be agents out there that are engaged.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: If you submitted to me, thank you. I'm genuinely humbled that you trust me with your work. If I reject it, I don't do so lightly. And I don't take any pleasure in removing you from this particular game. Please, don't let yourself decide that if I (or other mentors) don't pick you, your book is finished, or you're a failure. It purely, simply, isn't true.