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How to Prepare your Pitch Wars 2018 Submission

Monday, 20 August 2018  |  Posted by Sarah Nicolas

We’re changing the submission form a little this year, so we wanted to make sure you know what to expect when August 27-29 rolls around. If you’re new to Pitch Wars or aren’t quite sure how it works, start here.

Submissions will occur via a “sub-site” this year, which we will link to from our website and on Twitter. When you go to submit, you’ll be asked to click on a link indicating your age category: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult, or New Adult. Only mentors accepting that age category will be selectable on your form.

Here are the fields that will be on the form:

  • Genre – You type this in; there is not a pre-set list.
  • Title of the Manuscript
  • Word Count – Round to closest 1k words.
  • Name – If you use a pen name, you can either type that or “[Real name] writing as [pen name].”
  • Email – Requests for additional pages or information will come to this email. Please make sure it is entered correctly.
  • Twitter Handle – This is optional.
  • Website – This is optional.
  • Query Letter – This will be pasted into the form.
  • Synopsis – One page, single-spaced. This will be pasted into the form. There is a character limit to prevent a synopsis of longer than one page. Omit any header.
  • First Chapter – This will be pasted into the form, but the text block is formattable. Copy from a document that is in standard manuscript format: Times New Roman, Courier, or Arial 12pt font; lines should be double-spaced with no additional spaces between paragraphs; insert scene breaks by centering # or a similar symbol in between. For this submission form there is no need to include what you would normally put on a cover page or in headers/footers, but please have a proper cover page, headers, and footers in your full manuscript if requested. There is a character limit to prevent abuse.
  • Mentors: A minimum of one selection is required. A maximum of four. These will be selected from a drop-down list.
  • Under/Over 18 years old checkbox – If you are under the age of 18, we require parental permission to enter. You’ll be required to complete additional information, including  sharing your parents’ email address and having them indicate they are giving permission for you to enter. i.e. Your parent will need to be present at the time you are filling out the form and will need to respond to any email we may send.
  • Permission to share submission materials with other mentors: We will ask for permission to share your submission materials with mentors that you did not select, in the rare case another mentor would like to see it. If you select this, only what you submitted via the form will be shared with that mentor. If you don’t give us permission, your submission is not eligible to be considered by any mentors other than those you selected. You will not be able to change your selection after you submit.
  • Privacy Policy Agreement

Does it matter when I submit?

No, all submissions will be given a fair chance, regardless of when they’re submitted. We ask that not everyone submit as soon as the application window opens, to avoid crashing our servers.

What about Graphic Novels or other illustrated texts?

Please briefly describe the style of illustration in the query letter and include image descriptions in [brackets] in the text. If a mentor is interested, they will email to request sample art.

What if my first chapter is short?

Send the first chapter or the first ten pages, whichever is longer.

What if my first chapter is long?

If it’s over 10,000 words, you may surpass the field’s character limit. Please paste only the first 10,000 words.

What about prologues?

If it’s less than five pages, send it along with your first chapter. If it is longer, omit it and send only the first chapter. If a mentor later requests additional pages, you can include the prologue then. If your prologue and first chapter combined is still shorter than ten pages, send ten pages.

How do I know if my submission went through?

You will receive a confirmation email. This is another reason why you should verify that your email address is entered correctly.

I messed up, can you change something for me?

No. Please ensure your submission is correct before submitting. Due to labor demands, we won’t be able to edit your submission for you.

One Page Synopsis?!

Yes, one page. Single-spaced, Times New Roman or Arial 12pt font, 1” margins, US Letter size paper, no funky formatting. If you follow these industry-standard guidelines, you’ll be safe.

Additional Questions

Please see additional FAQ here, then let us know if you have any additional questions in the comments!

Edited to Add: Clarifications

The text box for the Query, Synopsis, and First Chapter will all accept formatted text and preserve formatting such as italics, but may not preserve alignment, so you’ll need to double-check that. You won’t be able to use varying fonts. Use alternate formatting to replicate the effect of different fonts, if you use them. The format bar looks like this:

When you paste your first chapter, it will appear to strip the double-spacing and indents, but do not be concerned about that. Do not manually insert these. Please see Kellye’s twitter thread here, showing how beautiful your text will look to the mentors, thanks to our webmaster’s mad skills.

When you paste your first chapter, skip any cover-page info or header info and start with “Chapter 1” or “Prologue,” whichever is applicable.

If you are unfamiliar with industry-standard manuscript format, this document will help.

We will not be announcing the character count for the synopsis text box. Please see the above note about the one-page synopsis. You can either indent each paragraph or leave a line between each paragraph, or both if you have the room. It doesn’t matter for our purposes. The one-page limit has been on our site for months; the only new info we announced today is that this will be technologically enforced. We don’t expect a synopsis to be a work of art, we just need to know what happens in your story on the most basic level.

Rest assured: no one is going to be rejected for imperfect formatting. The book, the writing is the most important thing.

Unrelated to the form, but we’ve been asked a few times: Mentors will start requesting fulls on the first day, so your book needs to be 100% complete when you submit.

Do not include links in your query, synopsis, or writing sample unless they are part of your book. Mentors will not click on any link “for more info” about your submission.

The people who will have access to your submission are: the mentors you apply to, the web/technology team, and submission readers assisting the mentors you applied to. If you check the box to allowing sharing, other mentors may also have access to the materials, if shared.


For some uncommon combinations of Word settings and browser settings, copied text will eliminate spaces between paragraphs. If this happens to your submission, please manually place the space between paragraphs inside the text box.

How it will look if you have this issue. You’ll need to manually place spaces between paragraphs, using the “Enter” or Return button.

This is how it will look for most people after pasting. No additional paragraph spacing is required.


  • Jenny Anderson says:


    I’m having a difficult time figuring out what paragraph and spacing format you mean. Is it possible to see a picture of what the manuscript and synopsis is supposed to look like?

    Thank you!

  • Katie Evans says:

    So just to confirm, we cannot personalize our query letter for each mentor?


  • Mary Rowley says:

    I have two questions. 1) The example says not to indent the first paragraph of each chapter, but DOES indent the first paragraph of each chapter. Which would you prefer? 2)So if you like the # between scene breaks, what about spacing around text messages included in the text? Like how would you space something like this?

    This is my friend’s text message to me.

    This is my reaction to the text message.

    This is my text message response.

    Would I use the # sign? Double spaces between as shown? No extra spaces? Italicize the messages?

    • Sarah Nicolas says:

      1) that’s only because Google Drive changed the formatting. You should do what it says, but it doesn’t matter either way for the submission form.
      2) look at how it’s done in published books and copy that.

  • What about putting in page numbers in the first chapter? Are they considered part of the header?

  • Hello. A quick question regarding the word count for page submission. You say that we should send ten pages, and no more than 10,000 words.

    (If it’s over 10,000 words, you may surpass the field’s character limit. Please paste only the first 10,000 words.)

    Is this a typo? 10,000 words is almost 50 pages in my MS. My first ten pages come in at just over 2500 words. Thought it was worth checking in case I’m reading this wrong.

    Thank you so much for your time.

    • Sarah Nicolas says:

      It is not a typo. In the past, we’ve seen submissions with abnormally long “first chapters.”

    • Sarah Nicolas says:

      Also, it is first chapter for first 10 pages, whichever is longer, just to clarify.

      • Royaline Sing says:

        Hi Sarah,
        This is an old post I realize, but as a newbie, I am trying my best to thoroughly research. So, the guideline is 1st chapter or 10 pages, whichever is longer. NOT MORE THAN THAT EVEN IF THE FIELD ALLOWS 10k word count. I am hoping I got that right. and hoping 2019 guideline is the same?

  • Thomas Macolino says:

    Hi, I’m sure you’re sick of formatting questions by now, so my sincerest apologies for yet another one.
    So my prologue is 4 pages long, but my 1st chapter is 8 pages (about 3500 words total).
    Would you rather I submitted:
    Just chapter 1 (8 pages)
    The prologue & chapter 1 (12 pages)
    Skip the prologue entirely and submit the full chapter 1 & part of chapter 2 (10 pages)

    • Sarah Nicolas says:

      From the post, under the prologue question: “If it’s less than five pages, send it along with your first chapter.”

  • Heide H. says:

    Under “Synopsis” it says “omit any header”. Is a footer also a no-go?

  • Heide H. says:

    The PDF form by Sarah Nicolas that you link to as a formatting reference says “Do not put two spaces after each period.” I grew up in the 1960s, and learned to type on a typewriter. I was taught to always insert two spaces after each period, so that’s the way I type. Do I need to go back through my manuscript and change the spacing between each sentence, or is PitchWars okay with old-school in this case?

    • Sarah Nicolas says:

      No one will reject you because of this. But it is something you might want to try to get in the habit of doing, since it is industry standard now. You can also use the find and replace function in word to replace all ” ” with ” “

  • Cyn says:

    Is there a word (or page!) limit to the query submission?

    I know industry standard is 250 words, but I’ve also seen some recent how-to examples shared on PitchWars where the author admitteded to exceeding that. ☺

    Thank you for your indomitable patience with us all, Sarah!

    • Sarah Nicolas says:

      There is, but it’s extremely generous and should not be a problem for anyone who has seen a query before. Can’t remember exact numbers, but it’s a lot.

  • Camille says:

    My book has two different fonts that are integral to the story. Your instructions say to alternate formatting to replicate the effect of different fonts. How do I do this?

    • Sarah Nicolas says:

      Feel free to use italics or bold or block quotes or ALL CAPS or [brackets] or {funky brackets} or any combination thereof.

  • Shalon Sims says:

    My novel has two main characters, a boy and a girl. The story is told by alternating the perspective in each chapter. If I only submit the first chapter, then it might give a lopsided impression of the book. They are short chapters (middle grade) about 7-8 pages each. What do I do?

  • Judy Broad says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Are we allowed to enter the September PitMad if we have entered PitchWars?

    • Sarah Nicolas says:

      We don’t place any restrictions until and unless you are selected as a mentee. So you are permitted to enter, but most would argue it’s not wise to do so.

  • Very glad to read that I can include a sample of my graphic text (Chiller bold 22 font), because without that the meaning of what the MC is doing would be lost. Reading that option makes me feel a little better….

  • Caroline Elwell says:

    Hi Sarah,
    My novel is in verse. Do you know if the stanza breaks will show up when we paste into the form?

    • Sarah Nicolas says:

      It depends on how you formatted them in the document. Just check and make sure and use an extra line break where they need to be.

  • Katja says:


    I know we can’t personal for each mentor, but is having a blanket personalization okay?

    I’ve chosen to submit to you because you all expressed an interest in puppies wearing capes and fighting evil on your wishlishts.

    Would something like that be okay?

    Thank you so much!

  • Rebekah Swanberg says:

    Thank you for these details. I appreciate all you’ve done to clarify this process. Your patience is admirable. 🙂

  • Emily says:

    Hi Sarah,
    My story jumps between present/past scenes – should I write the synopsis according to the order the scenes go in, or chronologically? Thanks for your help!

  • Kristi Radford says:

    Is it true that the synopsis does not have to have a space in between the paragraphs? Just an indent.

    • Sarah Nicolas says:

      You can do it either way, it doesn’t matter for our purposes. On the submission form, please put a space between paragraphs though.

  • Debra Irsik says:

    For some reason when I copy my query from word it will not paste. Can I just type it in?

    • Sarah Nicolas says:

      You can! But first try typing a couple characters and then pasting. (Then go back and delete the characters you typed.) That might help you.

  • Hello just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let
    you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why
    but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same outcome.

  • Are Memoirs acceptable manuscripts?

  • Ana Cordoba says:

    My manuscript is a 22 page stand alone short story to a longer work I’m planning to do. Should I send the first 10 pages as my 1st chapter for submission?

  • GG says:

    Hey – I may be off-grid (and away from Wi-Fi) during the sub window. Awhile back I saw someone suggest having a friend or CP enter for you if that’s the case, which is fine. But I’m nervous about not knowing the synopsis character count. My synopsis is one page – can I be guaranteed that it’ll fit? Is there a possibility that the person I choose might still need to edit it down even though it fits on one page? (E.g. In that case I might need to ask another writer instead of just a friend.)

  • Rosemary says:

    Hi there! Do I have to have my Twitter pitch ready by September 26th, or just the query, synopsis, and manuscript? Thank you!

  • Sabrina Vienneau says:

    Since we will be submitting via a system that first collects the title, word count genre etc.., is it okay to leave these elements out of the query? Do we even need to start our query with “Dear Mentor,” or can we just paste in our manuscript description and then bio? Thanks!

  • monique la terra says:

    Hi, I’m a little confused about the word count. On the submissions FAQ it says Send the first chapter or first ten pages but on this page it mentions up to 10,000 words. In my manuscript, 10,000 words is two and a half chapters.
    Should I send only the first chapter including prologue total under 5,000 words or two and a half chapters total 10,000 words?

  • Sarah says:

    Hello! I plan on entering the 2020 Pitch Wars and just need a few clarifications. So, does it mean that if your first chapter/ten pages are liked enough by a mentor, they can request your ENTIRE manuscript in one go? Or is there a certain amount they can request unless they select you as a mentee?

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