Final Preparation for #PitchWars

Are you in the home stretch preparing for #PitchWars? With the submission window less than a week away, hopefully you’re not still scrambling to get that last scene written, or restitching a plot hole together. By now I hope everyone can see the finish line and be ready to take a deep breath and relax while the mentors dive into their busy weeks.

If you’re on the home stretch, here’s a few tips to help get you organized. Please note: I am not a mentor. This is my own take on getting ready so, you know, grain of salt. 🙂

  1. Get your PitchWars folder setup. Wherever makes sense on your machine, you want to have a folder labeled for PitchWars. When you’re done, it will likely contain a spreadsheet and 4-5 word documents. Nothing else should go in this folder but your Pitchwars submission-ready items and mentor list.
  2. Have your spreadsheet ready. By now you should have the list of mentors you wish to sub to confirmed. Keep their names handy, the link to their wishlist, and have 1-2 alternates if you can. Why an alternate? Emergencies happen. Life has a way of rearing its head at the most inopportune moments, so be prepared with an alternate or two in case your chosen mentor has an unforeseen emergency and needs to remove themselves from the contest. After submissions open, keep your list handy. If a mentor asks for more, note what they asked for and which day. Some ask for fulls right away, others start with partials then move to fulls. So you may be lucky enough to note twice. Wherever your path leads, at least you’ll be organized.
  3. Finalize your query. It’s probably done, but one more look never hurts. At this stage you’ll likely be looking for grammar edits and tinkering to make it sparkly. Once you’re all done, make sure you format your query in Times New Roman, 12pt, left-aligned, single-spaced. Then drop it in your folder and mark it done.
  4. Finalize your synopsis. Same as ^above here. One more look never hurts. Sleep on it, tinker with the grammar, then call that baby done. Format it in Times New Roman, 12pt, left-aligned, double-spaced. Drop it in your folder, et voila!
  5. Finalizing your manuscript. This will be done in three parts, which I’ll get to in a minute. But first, let’s make sure this baby is REALLY ready.
    • So first make sure you’ve finished all your edits. Then (hears other writers cringe) open up your Word document. Whoa! Breathe! Okay, Word is NOT an editing tool, period. But… take a minute to scroll through your pages. Look for two things: red underline and blue underline. Red underline means there’s a misspelling. Look at it and decide for yourself – do I have a keystroke error here (i.e. misspelling) or does Word need to know this? Those with fantasy worlds should know what I mean here. If the word is your character’s name or a word creation from your fantasy world, add it to the dictionary. If it’s misspelled, correct it. If the spelling is correct, add it to dictionary. For blue lines, these are trickier because Word is an idiot with grammar. But, sometimes you’ll find extra spaces, misplaced periods, or comma/quote combinations done incorrectly. Fix the wrong, ignore the right. Do this all the way through your manuscript.
    • Now you’re super shiny, right? My next step after this is one final pass with Edit Minion. This site helps spot weak words & phrases, and adverbs, as well as a few other idiosyncrasies. I tend to go chapter-by-chapter, and yes, I keep a few adverbs. Some work, some don’t. Know the difference. Do a final cleanup here and get rid of last-minute wording that could be better.
    • Remember two bullets up when you scoured Word for those underlines? Do it again. You’d be amazed how easy it is to add a space here, an errant letter there.
    • Format the entire document in Times New Roman, 12pt, left-aligned, double-spaced.
    • And finally, check out the Formatting 101 site to learn where to add your name, personal information, title, chapter headings, etc.
  6. Finalizing part deux. You’re almost there. Now you need to save your manuscript as three documents.
    • Document 1 – full manuscript. Should be named: Title of Book – Author Name – FULL
    • Document 2 – partial manuscript. This will be roughly 50 pages long. Should be named: Title of Book – Author Name – 50 Pages
    • Document 3 – first chapter. This is only your first chapter, prologue and first chapter, or 8-10 pages if your chapters run super short. Should be named: Title of Book – Author Name – First Chapter
  7. Drop all three manuscript pieces in your folder.

Guess what? You’re done! 🙂

Watch a movie, take yourself to dinner, or have a drink. Celebrate, you deserve it. Now all you have to do is wait for submissions to open, and you’re ready to roll.

You’re done, you’ve celebrated. What now?

Two weeks will pass before mentees are announced. Write a new story, plant a garden, or find a project that will keep your attention, while not driving it away from your email. If you get the request for materials, send it right away.

But seriously, write a new story. It will keep you occupied while you wait. 🙂


Note: for the professionals out there, feel free to nudge me if anything here is incorrect. Thanks!

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