I’m Alex Reda, a YA contemporary and SF writer, proud member of the 2016 Pitch Wars class. I’m here today to talk about how Pitch Wars transformed me into the writer I am today. Basically my take on the ups, the downs, and the gifs which paved my writing career. I’m thrilled to be part of the #menteeshelpingmentees and I’m so excited to read all your fabulous entries and cheer for each of you during Pitch Wars. Loudly. With .gifs.
What did you do to prepare for Pitch Wars?
Freak out. Edit. Write some more. Eat a ton of chocolate. The usual.
I went into Pitch Wars 2016 from a 2015 rejectee point of view, so I knew what I did wrong the first time around. Not getting into the competition during my first try wasn’t the easiest process to go through, and if you want a day-by-day breakdown on my experience, you can check out my hectic take on the two weeks leading up to the reveal (https://alexredalit.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/my-2015-pitchwars-experience/). I was lucky enough to be mentored outside the competition by the amazing Sonia Hartl, who morphed me into the kind of writer willing to take chances, even though the odds are against me.
That was the biggest lesson I learned and applied it to everything leading up to the 2016 Pitch Wars sub window. If I had doubts about a scene, I really tried to analyze whether the emotions stemmed from me being paranoid and thinking mentors are just not going to get it, or if that chapter really needed to go because it sucked the life and pace out of my pages. Editing the MS for Pitch Wars is a very strange experience. It forces you to look at your work with an entirely different attitude, and helps you take those first steps towards becoming a stronger writer.
What didn’t you do that you wish you had?
I don’t think I was as present as I would’ve liked to be on the Twitter thread. During Pitch Wars in 2015, I tweeted up a storm, and was so hyperaware of my public enthusiasm after I found out I didn’t get in. I tried to tone it down, though that was a huge mistake. Pitch Wars is about community, first and foremost. Don’t botch up your chances because those “what if’s” keep pestering you in the dead of night. It takes guts to put yourself and your emotions out there, but it’s so worth it in the long run. Reach out, interact. I met my fabulous CP through Pitch Wars, and we’re still going strong 2 years later and cheer each other on. Trust me, you’ll need that support at one point and the Pitch Wars community is more than happy to provide it.
How did you choose which mentors to send to?
It was tough, man. There are so many talented writers willing to help, and narrowing down your mentor list takes a lot of time.
PS: I love lists.
I went through each mentor bio (and let me tell you, some of them didn’t mentor YA contemporary, but their bios were so amazing, I suddenly wanted to write Adult mystery just to have the chance to interact with them) and narrowed the names down to about 10. Then I went into full stalker mode and followed my top picks on Twitter to see if our personalities matched. The whole process took about 3-4 days for me.
What was your favorite part of Pitch Wars?
Finding an amazing mentor which has now become my friend and connecting with other writers. Echoing what other mentees have said before me, it’s all about the community. And my mentor. My god, my mentor’s amazing. Mary Mayberry saw potential in me and made me the writer I am today. No matter how many times I fangirl over her, I could never quite do our friendship justice. She’s mentoring Adult this year, so definitely sub to her if your novel fits her and her co-mentor’s wish list.
I also met my fabulous CP/trans-Atlantic twin, Renée A. Price during Pitch Wars, and we’ve been each other’s best cheerleader since day one. These two relationships, so vital to me writing career, would have never happened without Pitch Wars.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about Pitch Wars?
It doesn’t guarantee an agent offer. It does, however, make you a stronger writer and that’s what matters. Once again for the seats in the back.
Pitch Wars. Makes. You. A. Stronger. Writer.
The publishing business is always evolving. You have to evolve with it and hone your craft. This competition is invaluable for reaching that next level as a writer. You learn so much in such a short amount of time, and though it might seem daunting at first, the skills you learn during Pitch Wars will help you throughout your career.
What would you say to someone thinking about entering Pitch Wars?
Do it *insert creepy Shia LaBeouf gif here*. Don’t let self-doubt ruin your chances before you even take the first step. And don’t focus on “winning” or some other subjective benchmark for measuring success. You can’t *win* Pitch Wars. You can learn and strive to get better at your craft. Pitch Wars is the best place to do both those things in a very supportive community. Brenda’s managed to create this fantastic environment for us writers, it would be a shame not to take part in the process. And I have it on good authority that you can–and will–get plenty of virtual hugs and dancing gifs. Maybe some cookies.
So why are you still second-guessing yourself? Go sub your awesome novel.
What is one gif that represents your Pitch Wars experience?
Not posting a Tom Hiddleston .gif here is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Bless Tina for being there for me in these times of anguish.