Friday, August 26, 2016

#PitchWars -- By the Numbers

Every year after the #PitchWars picks are announced, a lot of people wonder how many subs there were, what was the dominating category and genre, why one MS / author got picked over another... While we're not tech savvy enough to make a bunch of cool graphs and charts, or mathematically inclined enough to give you impressive stats and figures and percentages, we can break down our inbox for you.

First, let's take a look at the numbers....

Total number of submissions received: 38*

*This is a low number compared to what other mentors received. But we are not complaining! We will take quality over quantity any day. Not to mention, our wish list was very specific, so naturally our submissions would be lower.

~ Submissions by Category ~

Total number of Adult: 27
Total number of New Adult : 11

~ Submissions by Genre ~

Contemporary Romance: 16
Erotic Romance: 1
Women's Fiction: 10
Mystery: 2
Thriller: 2
Romantic Suspense: 3
Fantasy: 1
Sci-Fi: 2
Memoir: 1

~ Requests ~

We made a total of 11 official requests, and 1 unofficial request. The unofficial request was done behind-the-scenes. One of the benefits of the submission form is that we can see which other mentors an author subbed to, so we could reach out to those other mentors, discuss the sub and share requested pages. Yes, we know. Sneaky! But that's just part of the fun of #PitchWars.

Fulls: 6
Synopses: 5 

~ Common Reasons We Passed ~

There was a TON of talent in our inbox this year, and we could've made the argument to work with any single one of them. But, alas, we can't. Some really tough decisions needed to be made, and here are our top reasons for ultimately passing on a submission.

1. Info Dumping / Backstory / Too Much Narrative -- An opening chapter that has too much narrative packed full of back story and info dumps didn't grab our attention. Yes, this is something that can be easily fixed by cutting all or most of it and /or starting the story in a new place. However, with a limited amount of time to read, we needed to be sucked in from page one. If we weren't, we passed. In some instances, we were intrigued enough by the premise / query that we requested the synopsis to see where the story was going.

2. Nothing Happens -- This goes hand-in-hand with number one above. We wanted to have something exciting happening in that first chapter, something that piques our interest. It didn't necessarily have to be some big plot revelation, but there needed to be something to keep us reading. A majority of the submissions we passed on for this reason is simply a matter of not starting the story in the right place. The good news is that this is an easy fix.

3. Unlikable Characters -- If we didn't connect with the characters, found their actions / reactions unbelievable, or didn't get enough information about them to care, we passed. Especially with romance and WF, the characters are so super important that we need to love them.

4. Wrong Genre -- We were very specific with our wish list. We clearly stated what we did and did not want. Any submissions we received that didn't match our list were often marked DNR (Did Not Read). This is why research is so very important. Whether you're submitting to a contest mentor, agent, or editor, you absolutely have to pay attention to what they want and don't want. Don't waste your time or theirs by sending them something they probably won't read. It leads to hurt feelings all around. (Trust me, it wasn't easy for us to DNR a submission.)

5. POV & Tense -- This seemed to be a big one this year. With the genres we requested, there are some rather clear "rules" about what is and isn't acceptable in regards to POV. We saw a whole range of weird things: an omniscient romance; a contemporary with multiple POVS (more than 3) that shifted from first to third, etc. POV is easy to teach, but hard to implement, especially if several POVs need to be cut and/or rewritten. With only a two month mentoring period, we had to weight the amount of revisions against what we could reasonably do.

6. No Unique Hook -- Like it or not, publishing is a crowded place. In order to get noticed, you need to have that something special, a unique hook that separates your book from all the others vying for attention. What makes your book different? Why should we read your book instead of someone else's?

7. Subjectivity -- Yes, the dreaded, "We just didn't connect with it." We all hate hearing that, but sadly, it's a reality. There were some fantastic submissions that didn't have any real issues, but we weren't drawn into it. This is purely simple preference and personal tastes.

8. Poor / Inaccurate Representation -- We were very vocal about our desire for diversity and #ownvoices; and you guys delivered! (Thank you for that!!) This can be a very delicate subject, and we really took our time and treated it as such. If a marginalized voice was represented in a manner we felt was offensive or inaccurate, we passed. If we were presented with something that wasn't #ownvoices and we knew very little about the topic, we passed. We're big advocates of ensuring that not only are these stories told, but that they're told accurately.