Our interview today is with Ian Barnes, a Science Fiction and Fantasy writer, and member of the Pitch Wars Class of 2016. You can find him on twitter, if you want to learn more!
Hey, all you Pitch Wars hopefuls out there who may or may not actually be manatees. I’m Ian Barnes. I was in the Pitch Wars 2016 class where I worked with the always-awesome JC Nelson.
What did you do to prepare for Pitch Wars?
– Wrote a book. It’s really just as simple as that. I wrote a book, edited it, bludgeoned CPs upside the head with it and used the gooey insights that oozed out to polish it up and make it shiny. Okay, maybe that’s a hair more involved than simply “wrote a book,” but eh.
What didn’t you do that you wish you had?
– Written the book faster? I finished the first draft two weeks before the submission deadline. Would have been nice to get a little more editing time on it.
How did you choose which mentors to send to?
– I’d like to say I went down the mentor lists, weighed the pros and cons, spent time deliberating, but nah. I looked through the list of who was looking for adult SFF. It was not a long list. In fact, it fit nicely into the 6 slots you could sub to last year, no hand-wringing or soul-searching required. Write pretty much any other genre/age range and you got sucker punched by decision angst, but adult SFF? Easy.
How/Why did you decide to enter Pitch Wars?
– My wife stumbled across the contest in early 2015. She’d read a blog post about it by an author she liked who happened to be mentoring. Sent it my way and “strongly encouraged” me to submit the urban fantasy I had been tinkering with for years. So, figuring what the hell, I did.
I got zero requests on that book. Suffice it to say, it was a bit of a dumpster fire. But I learned. Before then, I’d been writing solo. During the sub window, I connected with other hopefuls over Twitter. Found some CPs and betas for my dumpster fire, all of whom really helped me improve not only that book, but my writing as a whole. The dumpster fire has been consigned to the depths of my hard drive, but I put that newfound knowledge to use writing something new. Seeing the community that grew around Pitch Wars, I desperately wanted to be a part of that. So when I began writing something new, I set myself a goal of being done by the time Pitch Wars rolled around the next year. As I said above, I came in just under the wire, but I did it and now here we are.
What was something that surprised you about Pitch Wars?
How much fun it would be. Oh sure, tons and tons of work, but I’ve had more laughs and sheer joy interacting with and getting to know these people (mentors, fellow mentees, and hopefuls alike) than I ever expected. Pitch Wars is a hell of a ride.
What was your favorite part of Pitch Wars?
The community. Look, I know everyone is going to say this, but it’s true. The mentor feedback? Fantastic. A shot at the agent round? Fancy. But while feedback will help you grow and learn, and the agent round might get you a leg up on the querying process, it’s the community that will help pick you up and keep you moving forward when the hits come. And oh yes, do the hits come. In fact, the hits never really stop, no matter what stage of the publishing journey you’re on. You’ll need friends who’ll have your back. People who will celebrate the highs and commiserate the lows.
To me, more than anything else, that’s what Pitch Wars has been about: friends.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about Pitch Wars?
Fiction is a tough sell.
What would you say to someone thinking about entering Pitch Wars?
Channel your inner Shia LaBeouf and just do it. If you have a book you’ve polished and need help taking to the next level, do it. If you’ve got something you’ve been sitting on for one reason or another, do it. If you’re querying and not getting any hits, do it. If you’ve already got an agent and—well, I guess you’re good at that point, so what are you doing here?
I’m sitting here struggling to think of a downside to entering, and I’m drawing a blank. There’s tons to gain and nothing to lose, so just do it!
What is one gif that represents your Pitch Wars experience?