Interview with Jennieke Cohen

Hi, everyone! I’m Jennieke Cohen, a Pitch Wars 2016 mentee. I write historical young adult fiction and am represented by Jennifer Unter of the Unter Agency. Find me on Twitter or my website. I’m very excited to be taking part in Mentees Helping Mentees!

How/Why did you decide to enter Pitch Wars?

I actually learned about Pitch Wars a week or two before the day you could start submitting. I had recently finished revising my book with a friend’s helpful comments, and I’d decided that would be the last revision I would attempt without some professional input. I’d spent years working on different iterations of that novel and I knew it was time to say, “Ok, I did the best I could with this.” The plan was to send out queries one final time and if nothing happened, I would self-publish it. When I found out about Pitch Wars, I thought if I could find a mentor to help me see the problems in the MS that I couldn’t, it would be just what I (and the book) needed.  I was slightly intimidated by the amount of work it sounded like I’d have to do if I got in, but in the end, I figured I had nothing to lose!

How did you choose which mentors to send to?

I read through all the YA mentor bios and made a list of those who would take historical novels. Then I narrowed my list to those whose tastes seemed similar to mine. Finally, I ended up not submitting to mentors who said up front that they might very well tell you to change your book completely or admitted to having a blunt critique style. By that point I had spent so much time revising my book that I truly didn’t think I could handle gutting it/completely rewriting it. Although those mentors sounded great, I think it’s important to be realistic about what you can handle and know your limits. I certainly don’t regret anything.

What would you say to someone thinking about entering Pitch Wars?

Absolutely do it! You seriously have nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain. I think a big part of being a writer (or attempting any creative profession) is that you need to seize every opportunity you can find. Of course, don’t be obnoxious about it. ☺ If you’re always professional and courteous, and can find the courage to keep throwing your hat in the ring, good things will happen.

What was something that surprised you about Pitch Wars?

Not everyone’s experience and revision timeline will be the same. One very wise thing my wonderful mentor, Tobie Easton, reminded me during the revision process (and I have tried to internalize it) was not to compare my Pitch Wars experience or writing life to anyone else’s. Just because someone else finished their revisions two weeks early and you’re going to be finishing late (three weeks late in my case!) doesn’t mean much in the scheme of things. Pitch Wars is a contest, yes, but really it’s not so much a competition as a way to improve your writing, put yourself out there, and hopefully grow as a person. That may sound cheesy, but I really believe it’s true!

What is one gif that represents your Pitch Wars experience?

jen

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