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How to Prepare your Pitch Wars 2020 Submission

Monday, 21 September 2020  |  Posted by Sarah Nicolas

We know so many of you working hard to get ready, so we wanted to make sure you know what to expect when the submission window opens on September 27. If you’re new to Pitch Wars or aren’t quite sure how it works, start here.

At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a video where Sarah walks through the entire submission form.

Submissions will occur via a “sub-site,” 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 – This is from a drop down list. Choose the closest to your genre and feel free to be more specific in the query. See the list of genres here. (We will not be adding genres to this list)
  • Title of the Manuscript (a working title is fine)
  • 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. We CANNOT change this for you.
  • 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 somewhat formattable. Copy from a document that is in standard manuscript format: Times New Roman, Courier, or Arial 12pt font; insert scene breaks by placing a # 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 by a mentor. 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. The order does not matter in any way.
  • Under/Over 18 years old checkbox – If you are under the age of 18, we require legal guardian permission to enter. You’ll be required to complete additional information, including  sharing your guardian’s email address and having them indicate they are giving permission for you to enter. i.e. Your guardian 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. We recommend that you do not wait until the last minute, because if there’s a technical issue, there may not be time to resolve it before the submission window ends.

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. If your first chapter is longer, 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?

After submitting, if you see your submission info in a non-editable format, it went through. You should receive a confirmation email, but some email providers block us because of the volume. You can help with this by adding “no-reply@pitchwars.org” to your safe senders list. Historically, gmail works best.

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. We will not be giving out a word or character count limit.

Additional Questions

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

The Form

This video from Board Member Sarah Nicolas walks you through the submission form:

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.

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

We will not be announcing the character count for the synopsis text box. Please see the above note about the one-page synopsis.

Unrelated to the form, but we’ve been asked a few times: Mentors may 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.

Troubleshooting

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.

 

26 Comments
  • Ruth Anderson says:

    Hello, and thanks for the very helpful video! I just want to make sure that I understand the spacing requirements correctly. I noticed in the video that the synopsis had 0 pts above and 0 pts below for every line. Does that mean no space between paragraphs? I’m a little confused. For me, Word automatically sets paragraphs to have 8 pts in between. I guess it matters, because without the 8 pts between paragraphs, you can fit more on one page!

    Also, I was assuming that the query letter should be single spaced, since letters usually are (with the 8 pts between paragraphs). Is this okay?

    In the chapter, I’m assuming that letting Word do 8 pts between paragraphs will be fine (rather than adding an entire line space between paragraphs).

    Thank you for clarification on the above! Sorry if I missed the answers elsewhere on the site; I did try to read everything!

    Ruth Anderson

    • Brenda Drake says:

      You can leave it as you have it. If you need to fit more into the synopsis, use no spaces 0pt and it will go through the form. Just as Sarah shows in the video. Yes, for the chapter that’s fine. The system will format it for the submission to the site.

  • Bob DCosta says:

    Hello, thanks for the video. It’s so much helpful. Just a clarification. For every chapter paragraphs, it is said that indent is required at the beginning of the first line.

    But in the demo video the chapter did not have indents but space between paragraphs?

    May you kindly help please?

  • Erin Han says:

    Hi! I wanted to ask for more specificity on the pages versus word count for the manuscript submission. I noticed that there is a 10k work count maximum but also that the guideline is 10 pages. When I count the words in my first 10 pages, it only comes up in the 3-4k range. This may partly be because I incorporate a bit of verse in my initial chapters and hence there is not as much text per page in that portion as there would be in the full prose pages that make up the bulk of my manuscript. Should I still stick with 10 pages, or is it fine to go over so long as it is less than 10k words and fits into the submission box? Thanks for any guidance you can provide on this!

  • Karen says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for the helpful FAQS. I saw that we’re not supposed to address the letter to specific mentors. In that case, how should the query letter be addressed. Should we write ‘Dear Sir/Madam’? Or should the query just be written as a block of text without addressing it to anyone or signing it off, as in a letter?
    Many thanks!
    Karen

  • Kimberly McCollum says:

    Hi,
    Could you clarify the formatting for the writing sample? I’m seeing two different guidelines. In the FAQ section I read that headers, page numbers are not expected. Then I read in the graphic above (Called writing sample) that page numbers and page breaks and a header on page one are required.
    Thanks for clarifying!

    Kimberly

  • Is there a way I can let the mentors know that my book has a prologue? My prologue is 13 pages and according to the rules should not be part of the original submission.

  • Dale Austin Johnson says:

    Question! Is the manuscript document single-spaced? Or double spaced?

  • Dan says:

    If the synopsis doesn’t fit, will be able to see that so we can adjust accordingly?
    Or will it cut off the end, unknown to the applicant?

    I have a 495-word synopsis that fits on one page with two lines to spare in Pages, Mac’s WP program. I’m trying to plan accordingly in case I have to do last minute editing while submitting. (i.e. I’ll cut
    more if I have to, even though I don’t want to.) Thanks!

    • Rochelle Karina says:

      If your synopsis fits on one page on a standard US letter size paper (8.5″x11″), 12pt Times New Roman, 1″ margins, single spacing, and no odd formatting – it will fit.

  • James Steeves says:

    Hi! I have a contemporary ghost story and am trying to determine the genre. Would it most likely be “contemporary dark”, “fantasy-paranormal”, or “horror”? There is no gore to speak of, just ghosts from historical time periods haunting in current times.

    • Rochelle Karina says:

      Sometimes genres can be tough to determine. With ghosts, sounds like yours is definitely in the paranormal range. If the ghosts and hauntings are scary, frightening, or in any way threatening – I would lean horror. If they are not – or the only fear is the initial “Yikes, a ghost!” that changes things. If your story also involves magic, non-human (and non-ghost) characters, or other fantasy elements – then you’re into paranormal fantasy.
      The best suggestion is to think about where your book would be shelved in a bookstore. What would it be next to? That should help clarify the genre.
      And good luck!

  • Jodi Cardillo says:

    Hello!

    Thank you for posting all the helpful information and resources!

    I’m wondering who I address my query too, if I am planning on submitting to four? Simply, Dear Mentor? Or, Dear Literary Agent?

    Any suggestions would be fantastic.

    Thank you!

  • Renee Stevens says:

    Hi!

    My prologue is 5 pages long and provides an integral conflict to the story that isn’t covered in the first chapter. The first chapter is 11 pages long. Together, it’s just under 5k words. Should I submit both, or just the first chapter?

    Thank you for all you are doing for us!

  • E says:

    Hello!
    My first chapter is less than ten pages, however my second chapter is from a different point of view. How can I let the mentors know of this? Should I title my chapters with whose point of view it is (as it is in the manuscript) or should I leave it with no chapter headings and let the mentors figure it out?

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