I didn’t get my agent through #pitchwars. Here’s why you should join Pitch Wars anyway.

Okay, so Pitch Wars time is coming around, and I’ve got some things to say about it.

I didn't win Pitch Wars, but THE OUTS is coming out in 2017

I didn’t win Pitch Wars, but watch for THE OUTS coming out in 2017, anyway

For starters, let me just put it out there that I didn’t get an agent out of Pitch Wars specifically. I do have an agent (the absolutely AWESOME Erin Young at DGLM), but not because of my Pitch Wars manuscript.

I loved my Pitch Wars submission. THE OUTS is a YA sci-fi thriller with mind-bending Inception-level craziness, comics references, and a Jekyll/Hyde relationship that gives me the creeps. My mentor J.A. Souders (her new book REBELLION just came out… buy it!) was awesome. She worked with me through the whole process, and when we queried I got lots of bites from some ah-MAZ-ing agents, many of whom I still communicate with.

But the agents weren’t quite sold. Something about the manuscript just didn’t fit for them all.

That’s okay, though, because the manuscript was picked up by Curiosity Quills off a completely different Twitter competition. NOTE: THE OUTS is scheduled for release Jan 24, 2017. Watch for it.

So no, Pitch Wars didn’t get me an agent. Technically, Pitch Wars didn’t get me the small press deal, either. But right here, right now, I’m telling you that if you have a great manuscript you’re undyingly excited about and want to keep moving forward into a publishing journey, you owe it to yourself to participate. And here’s why…

No, Pitch Wars didn’t get me an agent, but it did give me one of the most amazing support groups I’ve ever seen. The Pitch Wars class of 2015 are some of the best people I know, and some unbelievably talented authors. I talk with last year’s mentees daily. They share their publishing journey with me, and I get to do the same. Many are some of the best advice givers I’ve met (looking at you, Mike Mammay). A ton of them have given me awesome beta reads on my new manuscripts, and they’re always there to give their insight and experience when I have a question. And the support… man, that support…

Publishing can be a lonely business, and there aren’t a lot of affirmations along the way. If you’re accepted into Pitch Wars, you’ve got an awesome affirmation. You’ve got people to share the struggle with. You’ve got others to give you wisdom when you need it, and talk you off the edge when you’re freaking out about all the rejections, and the silence, and the why-don’t-they-see-what-I-see-ness.

No, Pitch Wars didn’t get me an agent right away, but being connected with an awesome support system and people who lift one another up gave me some of the confidence to keep going, and some of the insight to make my next book better, and some of the experience to know what to look for. And now I’m looking to go on sub with an amazing agent in September, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Pitch Wars didn’t get me my agent, but the Pitch Wars community helped, more than I can express. And if you’re an author who’s serious about getting into this business, you owe it to yourself to connect with people like this.

Do it. Submit. Submit.

Servant Authors See Success Differently

This is a follow-up to my previous post on What is a Servant Author?

Servant Authors Have a Different Definition of Success

When I talk to people about being an author, and about the amazing things happening in my author journey, inevitably the conversation turns to imagining what could happen if my books take off. “Could you imagine what it would be like to get a $1m advance?” “Do you think that movie deal is going to go through?” “How much will you make if…?” And I’d be lying to say those things didn’t cross my mind. But there’s something else that crosses my mind more than all that.

How can I keep doing what I’m doing?

People sometimes wonder why I’m not more excited about the prospect of movies and becoming a bestseller. But there’s a reason I temper my excitement. At the end of the day, I know the most important thing is that I’m establishing a foundation from which I can help and serve others. I’m not trying to sell manuscripts–I’m trying to build a platform. I want this career to benefit the world; not just me.

Therefore the central story question in everything I’m doing right now is, “How can I keep doing what I’m doing?” The pie in the sky dreams of fame and fortune can be alluring, but for me they’re an albatross. If I’d been overly worried about making a fortune on my work, I wouldn’t have gone with a small press. My career would be on hold. In fact, if I were to focus on those monetary measures of success I probably wouldn’t make it in the publishing world at all. Because contrary to popular opinion, there isn’t a lot of money in being an author.

Selfishness Is a Servant Author’s Weakness

I’m reading Brandon Sanderson‘s Reckoners series right now (yes, Brandon Sanderson fans, I’m WAY behind…he’s just got too many GREAT books for me to keep up), and one of the concepts there has really been poking my mind lately.

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

In book 2, Firefight, people with super-abilities have taken over the world and rule as malevolent super-villains.There are ostensibly no superheroes, because the use of super-abilities corrupts the user’s mind, making them prone to evil and murder and all sorts of general nastiness. The power these people possess can ruin even the best people, turning them into monsters.

This is also true in my upcoming book The Outs. An honor student allows himself to take a step down a destructive path, and before he knows it he’s dragged kicking and screaming into America’s Most Wanted, becoming a different kind of monster entirely. And it’s all because he embraced selfish thoughts.

Selfishness is at the heart of pain. It destroys people, in both fiction and real life. And in the end, it destroys more than it creates. It’s humanity’s weakness, and I’m not prepared to give in.

What a Servant Author Values

If I’m to stay on the path I’m on, I have to angle myself away from selfishness. I’m a creator, not a destroyer. I want my words to bring life to the people who read them, and that can only happen if I’m setting my eyes on the good goals. In the words of Dumbledore, I need to “choose between what is easy and what is right.”

Publishing is a high-risk, high-investment, low-reward profession. I have to always remember that, or else I will get discouraged. And I can’t get discouraged and quit, because if I really believe I’m a servant author, then I’m not doing this for myself. I’m doing it for something more important. Something greater than me. And that something is more valuable than million-dollar advances.

What Do Other Authors Have to Say?

If you’re an author and this resonates with you, good or bad, I want to hear from you. Please leave a comment down below telling us all what you think.

Inspiration for THE OUTS – a #PitchWars bloghop

Well, I did it. I survived Pitch Wars 2015. My amazingly awesome mentor, Jessica Souders, put me through the ringer and I came out on the other side with a manuscript that’s more polished, tighter, and packs more punch than my original. Whew!

And now, as were prepare for the agent round, many of the mentees have decided to share a little bit about our manuscripts in the interest of having a little fun. We deserve it. We survived.

THE OUTS comes from an idea that’s been festering in my mind for a very long time. I’ve always hated the way power lines ruin almost every picture there in. They’re everywhere, and, like the roaches of utilities they are, we just can’t get rid of them. Continue reading

So excited to work as a #pitchwars mentee to @jasouders

I’m a #pitchwars 2015 mentee! Woohoo!

HUGE announcement! Last night the Pitch Wars 2015 mentees were revealed after weeks of behind the scenes bartering and deliberations, and I was on it! Allow me a moments as I beat my chest and roar my best lion roar (that, really, sounds more like a cat with its tail shut in the door, but shhh … don’t tell me that).

ES Wesley #pitchwars

Still amazed to see my name on the #pitchwars 2015 mentee list!

For those of you who don’t know, Pitch Wars is a contest where authors submit their manuscripts in hopes of being mentored for two months prior to an agent round where agents peruse the submissions like an audiophile in a record store. It’s an unbelievably amazing opportunity, and now I can say that I am one of the Pitch Wars 2015 finalists. Roooaaa-*cough-*cough.

So what does this mean, you ask?

It means that the hard work has just begun. Over the next two months, Pitch Wars mentor and Tor Teen author JA Souders (go buy her books

now!) will work with me to make some industry-specific changes to my manuscript, prepare needed materials, and generally sharpen The Outs until it could split a nose hair, and then comes the agent round.

Continue reading

FOR THE WRITERS: Stop Tinkering with Your Manuscript After You Query

Stop Tinkering with Your Manuscript After You Query and Move On

Seems like it’s query season for us writers lately. Everyone’s getting their manuscript out after various summer writing conventions, polishing up those synopses, and hovering over their email like a helicopter parent on the first day of school. We’re excited. We’ve worked so very hard on these manuscripts, and now that we’re trying to release them into the wild, we are terrified of what that means.

But let me help you out: what querying means is that you believe your manuscript is ready to be read by others. You believe—with confidence—that the query represents a finished work that will dazzle the agents you’re querying. You believe that the manuscript you’re querying is as near perfect as you can get it.

Or at least … you should. Continue reading