Thoughts on #PitProm
I was surprised when an email arrived in my inbox a week ago from Kadee Carder, one of the moderators for PitProm. She sent me an email congratulating me for having a manuscript that was chosen as a finalist, to which my first response was "...What?" followed by "How about that." I didn't jump in the air fist-pumping or anything of the sort - I was, overall, in a sort of stupor.
What is PitProm, exactly?
Ahh, yes - I'm rambling already and I didn't even realize it.
PitProm is a friendly competition between writers that look to have their work published, but more importantly, get representation so they can be traditionally published. I learned about PitProm through my CP who seems to have a pulse on just about every writing-related event like this. I know that the vast majority of these are hosted on Twitter, hence the use of hashtags (ex: #PitchWars, #SFFpit, #IWSGPit), but I just am not the best at staying on top of the myriad of pitches and events.
The Last-Minute Submission
So when my CP told me about PitProm and how she wouldn't be able to submit her content (a 140-character pitch, a query letter, and the first ten pages of the manuscript) due to family-related events, she asked if I could submit on her behalf. The submission window opened at 8amPT on 7/14, so I woke up early that Saturday to prepare for when the big "Submit" button appeared. With fifteen minutes before eight, I had my CP's email with her formatted content ready to go - just copy and paste! As I read what she would submit, I started reconsidering my initial position surrounding PitProm.
I wasn't going to participate at all.
It was just another writing-related event where I could hawk my story in an unconventional format to a bunch of people in the hopes of getting representation. Yes, I would be getting my work in the hands of others in the writing world to read (in the case of PitProm, the judges were published writers and people that worked in the industry) and more publicity is better than none... but for a hard science fiction manuscript I couldn't help but feel that it would require a bit more of a traditional approach to selling it. I certainly don't have a YA novel, a genre that seems to do particularly well in online pitches like #SFFpit.
However, as I watched the digital clock on my desktop approach 8am I brought up the "Participate" page again and skimmed the finer details of PitProm. I cannot recall the exact thoughts that ran through my head when I brought up Scrivener to read my own 240-character pitches from previous events, but I'm sure one sentence that floated through my brain was "What the hell." Prepping the first ten pages of my manuscript was a straightforward affair - that took just a few minutes of compiling and formatting. The query was similarly easy, as nothing had to be changed. However, with just shy over five minutes left I had to take my existing 240-character pitch, slash the character count to 140, and still make it sound attractive. I honestly have no clue how I managed to do that, but I did.
When 8am rolled around, the big "Submit" button appeared, which I clicked immediately, bringing me to a simple submission page where it only asked for my name, email address, and everything else copy-pasted into a single text box. I took care of my CP first, knocking out her submission within 30 seconds. After that, I continued with my YOLO mentality and brought the submission page back up so I could submit my own work.
Given the amount of attention from agents and publishers that I received from previous, way more public pitches on Twitter, I kept my expectations low post-submission, continuing my day like any other. I alerted my CP regarding her submission, to which she was thankful.
Then Sunday rolled around... and I get an email with the subject "Congratulations, PitProm Finalist!". Numb to the news, I reflected my feelings as best I could on Twitter:
My PitProm Mentor
The next morning I received an email from Brett Armstrong, published author of historical fiction and sci-fi. He informed me that he'll be my mentor for the week, assisting in refining my pitch, query, and the ten pages of my manuscript that was in his hands. And right out of the gate, he already had some feedback regarding everything, along with some questions that he wanted answered in order to provide helpful changes.
My becoming a PitProm finalist, at this point, became real.
Over the course of five days we sent several emails back and forth, rewriting my pitch a couple of times before settling on a final version which we both loved. The query letter was the most interesting part of the experience for me, mostly because of how much longer it became despite refining the existing language and tightening up the story plot description. Query letters are such a critical part of any manuscript submission - for many agents, it's the first thing they see when opening up your email. Brett provided lots of great and interesting feedback and suggestions, including the addition of what amounted to a paragraph that just talked about me as a person and what I brought to the table from a marketing aspect.
We worked hard through the week, culminating in a final email that I sent to him around 11pm on Thursday. The updated version of the manuscript that was sent that night would be what was submitted to the PitProm moderators Friday morning, as Brett's internet service was down almost all morning (I'll preemptively blame Comcast for that one).
Let the Voting Begin
We're now a week after my notification from Kadee. My pitch, query letter, and manuscript sample are available online, available for anyone to read - at least for the duration of time where publishers and agents can vote on my work and twenty-two others that are in the finalist bracket. All votes will be tallied on 7/28, during which time winners will be announced.
Will I be one of those people that will visit the PitProm website a couple of dozen times a day to see how many votes (or lack thereof) came in? I dunno... it's possible. However, I also have a busy writing week planned, and I will try my best to maintain my expectations regarding the results. If anything happens, great! If nothing happens, at least I got a chance to work with Brett, the takeaways of which will not be forgotten.