Maybe absolutely nothing. Maybe absolutely everything.
Pitch Wars, for those who don't know, is an event created by Brenda Drake for writers who are unagented and are shopping an unpublished manuscript. You can go here for last year's rules. It's sort of billed as a contest, but it's really a networking event. Basically, you, the writer, sends in a sample of your work, the judges/moderators fish out the ones they like the best, and then everything's posted on a series of blogs for industry peeps, mainly agents, to peruse. What makes Pitch Wars different from Pitch Madness is that there are mentors who select an author to work with so that they end up with the best possible manuscript.
I'm mentoring this year.
I wanted to mentor because I think Brenda's Pitch events are a great way to be exposed to a lot of different authors and writing styles. It's like one-stop shopping for agents. However, I see manuscripts all the time in my boss's slush that are good, but that still need a lot of editing before they are submission ready. If I pick you for Pitch Wars, I can pretty much guarantee you'd get extensive revision notes. In nearly eighteen months that I've been working for my boss, I've only come across one manuscript, out of hundreds, that I didn't feel needed significant edits.
So what does this mean for you?
Well, the mentors will be posting in late November about what categories and genres they will be accepting. I don't think it will shock anyone to learn that I'll be looking for romances, all sub-genres, as well as something with an unique concept and voice, probably in the Adult or New Adult categories. However, if last year's rules carry over to this year, you'll be able to apply to three mentors, so I'd probably be also open to fantasy, urban fantasy, and light science-fiction, preferably humorous. I believe you'll be able to apply in the beginning of December, which basically means you have two months to put your manuscript through the wringer and fine-tune your query/pitch.
Take advantage of CPseek and Absolute Writer. Get beta-readers and critique partners who don't love you to pieces. Join Twitter if you haven't already and participate in the #PitchWars hashtag. Follow the mentors and get to know what they might be looking for so you can apply strategically (If you're not following Brenda already, you should be). Several people did pitch critiques before Pitch Madness. Read through the entries/comments and see if anything can be applied to your work.
My boss has signed several clients after Pitch events and getting an agent can absolutely be considered the brass ring, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy the ride. Participate in Pitch Wars for the community and for the connections. Being selected for a mentor's team may mean your manuscript will get an audience, but just being a part of Pitch Wars could mean getting better.
It should go without saying, but if you feel you don't need to get 'better' and that every word of your manuscript is precious gold, Pitch Wars is probably not the event for you.
For everyone else, start getting ready. Pitch Wars is coming...
All opinions expressed are mine alone and should not be associated with or attributed to anyone else.