Our interview today is with Hetal Avanee, a member of the Pitch Wars Class of 2016. You can find her on Twitter, or her website if you want to learn more!
What did you do to prepare for Pitch Wars?
I’ve actually followed PitchWars for years – since it’s inception in 2012 – so my preparation started way back before I had any solid story ideas. However, it wasn’t until last year that I was ready to enter one of my book babies. I wrote, wrecked, and rewrote Riven at least three times before entering into the contest, and I rewrote it at least that many times during the revision period.
What didn’t you do that you wish you had?
I wish I’d taken time off from the day job. For me, the revisions entailed an extensive rewrite into a new genre, and though I’d thought it would be “easy”, there were days that the black hole of “I’m never gonna get this done” really dragged me down. If ever I’m in this position again, I guarantee to take a “me day” – or seven.
How did you choose which mentors to send to?
I had my list of yes, nos, and maybes. I added them to a private twitter list so I could see if they had any topics/tropes that were hard nos. I listened to their interviews, I watched their interactions, and basically not-so-subtly stalked them 😉 Don’t worry, I didn’t try to keep it a secret. But there were still so many mentors to choose from! So I did the only sensible thing – I donated to Pitch Wars in order to submit to 2 additional mentors.
How/Why did you decide to enter Pitch Wars?
Like I said, I’d been eyeballing PitchWars for years, but I only entered when I my manuscript was ready. After months on the query circuit, after getting no requests in PitchMadness, I figured it was time to get some expert advice on this thing I called my book baby. It was cute enough to get interest from mentors, some editors, a handful of agents – but [to me] it lacked a crucial something that would propel it to the next level.
That’s why I entered Pitch Wars: to learn what it would take to raise my MS to the next level and do my best to apply it.
What was something that surprised you about Pitch Wars?
That not everyone’s changes were as extensive as my own. LOL. It shouldn’t have been a shock, really; I don’t think there was another mentee who was flipping genres! KT and Jami were amazing, their notes were extensive and in-depth, and I learned about myself through the process.
What was your favorite part of Pitch Wars?
Like many of the mentees who were interviewed before me, I’m jumping on the bandwagon of: the community is the best part of Pitch Wars. I added a few more writers to my tribe through interactions on the #PitchWars hash before picks were even announced; that list expanded after being chosen as mentee, but once in my heart, you don’t get to leave. So many of those same writers, mentees and not, pick me up with their kind words when I need it.
Your tribe can pick you up when you’re down. Your tribe will send you baskets full of encouragement when your soul feels withered. So yeah, make friends, don’t be afraid to interact with people on and off the hash – you’d miss out on the best part of PitchWars if you did.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about Pitch Wars?
Pitch Wars is not THE answer to signing with an agent, getting a book deal, or getting pubbed. It is one of the possible ways to achieve any of those things. First, you must write, and polish, a spectacular book. Note that a perfect MS is not required. But make your premise as amazing as you can, make the plot twisty and unpredictable, keep the pace, and provide rounded characters. Doing those things, and keeping a positive perspective through the rejections or silence, is how you’ll eventually achieve all if those goals.
For the record: I was a 2016 mentee who is still working on her agent/pub Happy Ever After.
What would you say to someone thinking about entering Pitch Wars?
There is absolutely no downside to taking the chance on yourself by entering PitchWars. If your MS is polished and query ready, it is good enough to be subbed to PitchWars. The worst that might happen is that you won’t get picked – but the best thing that might happen is that you are!
What is one gif that represents your Pitch Wars experience?