Have questions about submitting to Pitch Wars or just want to know what it is? Start here!


Pitch Wars Mentor Blog Hop

Wednesday, 5 August 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Painball team in action. Woman team win, sunny day locationWelcome to the mentors’ wishlist blog hop! From today until submission day, use the linky below to hop to all the mentors’ websites/blogs to read their bios, wishlists, and what categories and genres they want to mentor. At the end of this post, you will find the rules and submission guidelines for August 17.

For those unfamiliar with Pitch Wars, it’s a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine. The mentee then revises their manuscript for two months under the guidance of their mentor. The mentor also critiques his/her writer’s pitch to get it ready for the agent round. To do this, the mentors read all their applications and choose the writer they want to mentor and  to get ready for the agent round on November 3-5. We’re still waiting on agents to respond to our invite, but until our list is final, go here for a sneak peek of the agents who will be requesting in the agent round.


We’re holding an “Ask the Mentors” event on the Twitter hashtag, #AskMentor and on #PitchWars, August 10 from 12:01AM to 11:59PM EDT. Stop by and ask mentors questions as you see them join the hashtag.

Some our Pitch Wars mentors will be chatting live with the Whiskey, Wine, & Writing gang at 8PM EDT. Make sure to watch and get to know the mentors. Follow the #Pitchwars and #WWWriting tags to ask questions for the mentors. Here’s the schedule:

  • Tuesday 8/4 & 8/11 – Middle Grade Mentors
  • Wednesday 8/5 & 8/12 – YA Mentors
  • Thursday 8/6 & 8/13- YA/NA & NA/A Mentors
  • Friday 8/7 – Adult Mentors
  • Friday 8/14 – A mix of mentors who couldn’t make previous shows.

There will be prizes for the team with the most requests.  Each team member will receive a $75 gift certificate good towards services from our sponsor.

IMG_8588 IMG_8589

Our sponsor this round of Pitch Wars is …



JenHalliganJen Halligan offers literary publicity and a wide range of author services. Jen specializes in YA and NA fiction, as that’s where her heart is, and building author platforms. She loves working one-on-one with authors and helping them achieve their dreams. Whether you’re looking for full time publicity, or would just like to schedule a blog tour, cover reveal, or other online promotion, Jen can help! Publicity is not a one-size-fits-all business. A package can be customized to meet your needs and budget. For more information check out the website here. And check out her book blog A Book and a Latte!


Surprise!! Instead of 4 applications like prior years, we’re giving you 5, yes that’s mentors to submit to.

Note: Co-mentor teams count as one application.

You will notice in the linky below the mentors are not separated in categories, so you will have to do your homework, much like with an agent search, to find the right mentors for you. Use this opportunity to get to know fellow writers, some a little further in the publishing journey than you, because making connections can bring new friendships, new favorite authors, or new advocates for your work. Happy hunting!

Please be respectful to our mentors. Ask brief questions, but do not ask for feedback or for them to go to links to read stuff.

And here are your mentors…

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Submission Guidelines …

Submission day is August 17 for 24 hours starting at 12:01AM EDT (NY time)  and ending at 11:59PM EDT (basically, midnight to midnight).

There are no alternates this year. The mentor will pick only a mentee to work with from September 2 through October 31. To make up for omitting alternates this year we’ve added more mentors. There are 100 mentors! (The linky says more, but that’s because some mentors have co-mentors this year and have chosen to add their bios to list.}

An easy submission form will go live at midnight (EDT – New York time) August 17 and remain open for 24 hours. What will you need to enter in the form? Your top five (max – you don’t have to pick 5, but you are limited to 5) mentors, your email address, title of the manuscript, category and genre, your query letter, and the first chapter of your completed manuscript (Word .doc or .docx format).  The sample chapter should be manuscript formatted pages (12pt, double-spaced). All of this will be fill-in-the-blank on the form, except for the chapter, which will need to be uploaded.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Pitch Wars is for unagented writers with never-before-published manuscripts.
  • Only Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, or Adult manuscripts will be accepted.
  • This is open to completed, novel-length, fiction manuscripts only.
  • You may only enter one manuscript.
  • Only the genres requested by each mentor will be considered for the contest.
  • Writers can apply to 5 mentors max.
  • Mentors can only consider the categories they’ve signed up for. (The mentors’ categories – MG, YA, NA, or Adult – are set.)
  • Writers cannot apply for a mentor that is not in their category or the application will be deleted.
  • No nonfiction, picture books, chapter books, or previously published works.

If you were a mentee in Pitch Wars 2014 you may not enter Pitch Wars 2015. If you were a mentee in 2012-2013, you may enter with a new manuscript. If you were an alternate in any of the previous Pitch Wars, you may enter the same or a new manuscript for Pitch Wars 2015.

Please do not submit to your critique partners or close friends. It just gets awkward, and you don’t want to put them in that situation. There are plenty of other mentors to submit to.

WARNING: Just like an agent, mentors may request more pages or a synopsis of your manuscript to help them make their final decision, so get them ready!

!!!! If you make it into Pitch Wars, you may not enter any contests or query after September 2 and during the mentoring period and until after the agent round, which is November 3-5. If you made it into the Pitch to Publication editing round, you can not enter Pitch Wars because they run at the same time. You can enter Adventures in Children’s Publishing  and Miss Snark’s First Victim contests. When in doubt about a contest, please ask.

For those who do not make it into Pitch Wars (and those who want to join in), we’ll hold a Twitter Pitch Party on #PitMad September 10 from 8AM to 8PM EST. If you make it into Pitch Wars, you may not pitch in #PitMad.

Please note: Being kind to one another is mandatory in this contest. Should I find someone isn’t being kind and respecting others, I will remove you from the contest. Also, if you are difficult with your mentor or if you aren’t working well as a team or if you don’t take any of your mentor’s advice, your mentor will have the option to opt out of being your mentor. Remember your mentor has other obligations like deadlines, book promotions, and family life, please be mindful of their time. They are only required to read your manuscript once and give an edit letter. They aren’t required to do line edits. Our mentors are very generous with their time, so please be patient. We’ve had close to 40+ successes from last year’s Pitch Wars with 8 going on to to make book deals, and that was in the last 9 months. It’s because of our mentors and the care they take with their mentees that it’s been such a great success.

The best way to say thank you to our mentors is to buy their books. You can find all the Pitch Wars mentors’ books in the sidebar of my blog.

We hope to see you August 17 for submission day!


Filed: Pitch Wars

  • Sue Bahr says:

    I participated in pitch to pub and one of my manuscripts was favored. Can I enter the mentor challenge using a different manuscript? If not, can I enter if I withdraw my ms from the pitch to pub? Thanks for your help!

    • Brenda Drake says:

      If you’re working on a manuscript with an editor for Pitch to Publication, you would have to withdrawal to enter Pitch Wars. You can’t use another manuscript to enter Pitch Wars with. You can submit and wait and see if you make it in before withdrawing.

  • Deb says:

    Hello! What do we do if we’re waiting on agent responses from queries we’ve already submitted when the contest starts?

  • john pansini says:

    This is a nice thing you’re doing for newbie writers, Brenda. I look forward to participating.

    Many thanks,
    John Pansini

  • Anthony Salieri says:

    I’m looking forward to this! (Is there any way the list of mentees can be sorted by category? (MG, YA, Adult, etc.?)

    • Brenda Drake says:

      Sorry, Anthony, I won’t be sorting the list. I do this so the community can meet all the mentors and hopefully meet new friends and authors to follow. It’s a way of showing our thanks to the hard work our mentors do for this contest. We have some events happening during the two weeks before submission day so everyone can get a feel for the mentors and see who they think would be a good fit.

  • Adriana Arrington says:

    This is such a wonderful contest, Brenda! If my manuscript was selected for Pitch Madness this year, am I allowed to submit the same manuscript to Pitch Wars? Thank you.

  • Thank you for doing this, Brenda. I’m new to Twitter and to all the opportunities for writers here. This is a big undertaking for you and one of the most generous offers I’ve seen. I’m not sure I’ll be ready to make a pitch in just a few weeks, but good luck to all the authors who go for it!

  • Steven Palivoda says:

    I am looking forward to this since I haven’t participated in this before! Hopefully I’ll be successful now that my Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel has been revamped.

  • Jennie Nash says:

    Hi Brenda,

    Is it too late to be considered as a mentor? I am a book coach (and 7-time Big 5 author myself) and my category would be adult/memoir. Many of my clients land top New York agents and secure book deals.

    Also, is there a sponsorship open for any later rounds? My online affordable coaching program, AuthorAccelerator.com, may be interested in that opportunity depending on the price. We have a lot of giveaways we could offer.

    Thanks for your consideration.

  • Ashley says:

    This is so incredible! Thank you!

    I’ve queried my manuscript for a few months, and I’m still waiting to hear back from a few people. However–I think I queried too early and the manuscript needs help. May I still enter #PitchWars as long as I don’t send out any new queries?

    • Ashley says:

      Hi Brenda, please ignore my comments! I read through too quickly and missed that you already answered someone else asking the same question. Thanks!

  • Michele says:

    Hello, and thank you so much for this amazing opportunity! Question: is it all right to enter under a pseudonym?


  • Amber says:

    What if we’re already in a contest that ends before the mentor round? I entered Red Light Green Light and the winners are announced on 9/8. Do I need to withdraw to enter Pitch Wars?

  • Cez says:

    Is there a word limit for the length of the manuscript you submit?

    • Brenda Drake says:

      The word limit is the industry standard for the category/genre of your manuscript. So, no we don’t have a word limit, but your manuscript might not get picked if it is too short or too long for its category/genre.

  • Michelle says:

    Perhaps this will be the same answer as above, but I still want to be sure. I have a manuscript that is still out with agents and a new one I’d like to submit to PitchWars. I have no intention of querying it yet, but I did tell a couple of the agents I have something new nearly ready, so it’s possible an agent could ask for it during the process. Does that present an issue should I be selected for PitchWars, or is the rule just no new querying?

    • Brenda Drake says:

      The rule is no new querying. But if you have an ongoing communication with an agent you might tell them you made Pitch Wars and I’m sure they will wait for the finished product that has been mentored by one of our mentors.

  • Travis says:

    Hi! Hayley Stone’s website is not currently responding.

  • Kelly says:

    If you have partials fulls out to pubs, but no offers, can you still participate?

  • This is a really thoughtful, awesome thing you’re doing. Thank you for putting this together!

  • So I was just checking out the agent list and saw my agent is on there! Claire Anderson-Wheeler is amazing! I <3 her so much. Her feedback so far has revolutionized my manuscript times 1000!

  • Jessica B. says:

    If a mentor is co-mentoring, should those mentors be 2 of our 5 choices, or should we just list 1 of them when we submit our applications?

    • Brenda Drake says:

      No, co-mentor teams count as one. You will have a drop down option to choose your mentors. The co-mentors will be on the same drop-down field.

  • Ali Herring says:

    Hi Brenda,

    Thanks for creating this opportunity for writers. It’s awesome! My question: Will we be able to individualize our query letters to our chosen mentors or are we submitting just ONE general query letter in one submission? Or, will we simply submit the form 5 times, to our chosen mentors?

    Thanks from this 1st timer,

    • Brenda Drake says:

      You won’t be able to individualize your query letter. The submission is done by a form on my site and you’ll include one form and it will send to the five mentors you choose.

  • Jerry Quinn says:

    Hey Brenda! I’m attending the New York Pitch Conference this year on September 17th-20th. http://newyorkpitchconference.com/index.htm Does that qualify as another contest and thereby disqualify me from Pitch Wars?

    Thanks as always for your hard work!

  • Hi Brenda, when you say Pitch Wars are open to unpublished manuscripts, does “unpublished” refer to not yet having been traditionally published? (Can a self-published book be entered, if one is hoping to query to have it considered to be traditionally published?) Thanks for all of your dedication to providing ways of encouraging and improving the quality of our writing for us!

  • I know I’ve said it before, but just want to reiterate. THANK YOU for this contest…and all the others you do. Whether I get in or not, they’re so much fun! I seriously love them! And I love getting to know other writers. So thank you! You totally rock!

  • Priscilla says:

    Hi Brenda,

    My agent left the industry mid-submission. I’m revising my manuscript based on editor feedback, but I am unagented, unpublished, and in need of a middle-grade mentor to help me take my project to the next level. May I enter Pitch Wars with a somewhat shopped manuscript or is this opportunity reserved for writers who have not been represented before?

    Thanks for your time!

    • Brenda Drake says:

      Yes, you can. I got my agent with a somewhat shopped manuscript. It depends on the circumstances and where it’s been shopped whether the agent will take it or not. But they will consider it.

  • Christa says:

    I see that no previously published work would be considered. My novel was up at Channilo.com for a brief time (was read by all of six people) before I decided that was not the right platform and took it down. I’ve since rewritten it since. Would it still be considered a previously published work?

  • Laura Pohl says:

    Hi Brenda,
    I’m running with a contest in ‘Adventures in YA Publishing’, which will end in September now. If you win, you get a critique on your first chapter. Is it ok to enter Pitch Wars?

  • Hey Brenda, I’m going to be out of town that entire week at a remote lodge where I’ll only have internet access on my iPhone. Do you know if I’ll be able to upload my first chapter via dropbox onto the form? I’ve never tried before.

  • Alana says:

    Is it okay to submit to Pitch Wars if you have an agent that has requested an exclusive read? Would it be possible to withdraw before the agent round if that agent is still considering? Also, how public is the mentoring round? Is anything posted online or on Twitter? Thanks!

    • Brenda Drake says:

      That would be your call. I never gave exclusive reads when I was querying. We announce teams on 9/2 so that’s public. Your pitch and first page aren’t posted until Nov. 3 for the agent round.

  • MB Owen says:

    Newbie here: How does the selection process work? That is, if we have 5 mentors selected, and lets say you get multiple mentors interested–does the Mentee choose which to work with? If not, and you know you’d like to work with 1 or 2 especially, would you only put those down? (Thank you!)

  • Jamie Wood says:

    For our uploaded manuscript – should our contact info be included in headings? Or is the manuscript meant to be a blind read? Thank you!

  • Casara Clark says:

    So I have a question about knowing your genre. Because some of the mentors draw the line at only doing NA or only YA.

    I’ve been classifying my book as YA because I thought that would be the best market for it. The character starts the book under 18, but the majority of the book focuses more on her years 18-20 and takes place primarily around a college.

    But changing it to NA (as it technically could be) for some of the mentors would exclude the other ones who were exclusively YA (some that I was really excited about too!).

    It’s possible I’ll find out I’m classifying it wrong, but most people I’ve discussed the book with have agreed they thought the YA market seemed like a good fit. (NA Sci-Fi Fantasy doesn’t really exist right now)

    Will it be possible to call my book a YA/NA in the application so that I could submit to either a mentor who was only YA or a mentor who was only NA (without it just getting deleted)? Especially because I could defend the book’s classification as either?

    Or do I just have to pick the best one for the time being? And deal with the mentor possibilities I lose/gain as a result?

    • Brenda Drake says:

      You would need to know where your book fits in the market. Especially when querying agents. What are the themes? Do they fit in YA or NA or possibly Adult. Mentors who are taking YA/NA are taking both YA and NA submissions, so you might want to just focus on them. Also, it could possibly be just SciFi (Adult). Take a look at your manuscript and choose one and stick to that.

      • Casara Clark says:

        Thank you Brenda. It does have themes of independence, coming of age, thinking/feeling differently than your parents do about science/religion (which I understand can be in both YA and NA) but it also has magical realism, grief handling, judgments of mental health…

        If I’m deciding where I think it fits in, I don’t think it fits in the adult sci-fi genre (even though I COULD put it there by the fact that the young protagonist is only 1 of 5 POVs, the rest of which are adults). But the story still very much revolves around the young girl.

        And between YA and NA, even though the protagonist’s age would qualify her as NA, it seems like sci-fi/fantasy elements push it to YA.

        So I guess any NA only mentors have to be disregarded. It’s just kind of sad because the line seems so arbitrary in this specific instance (I know that typically, there’s a very large difference).

        Thank you for your help!

  • Linda says:

    I have a small technical question. I know the potential complaint about prologues. I happen to have a small one that’s not set far in the past and is germane to the flow of Chapter 1. Is it considered cheating to send the prologue and chapter 1 as the submittal? Are we supposed to truncate the prologue or incorporate it into the Chapter 1?


  • Hi Brenda, I am participating in the First Five Pages workshop this month. Could I use the MS for pitchwars? Thanks so much for your time, and for organizing this huge event. I’m a bit overwhelmed, but excited just to connect with other writers.

  • john pansini says:

    I know that when pasting material to an online form the sentences are NOT separated into paragraphs but are shown line-by-line. Is this how it appears to the mentors? I want it to be as easy for them to read as possible so I always add . Should I still do that to make my material more readable?

    Thank you, and thank you for helping other writers,

  • Forgive what may be a silly question, but HOW do we submit our queries and first chapters on 17 August? I’m all aquiver with anticipation. Thanks for guidance.

  • Ali Herring says:

    Hi Brenda,

    Thanks for creating this opportunity for writers. I’ve already learned a lot from corresponding with new writer friends!

    I am here to ask the prologue submission question. Mine sets up the premise and chapter 1 so you understand who the protagonist is. I noticed you emailed the first person to ask this question, so perhaps you could me as well? It is short, 2 pages.


  • Casara Clark says:

    Is there a “first chapter or first X amount of pages” qualification? Or if it’s a long first chapter, do we just send all of it?

    My first chapter is about 30 pages double spaced, with 12 pt font. I don’t THINK that’s too long but just want to be thorough.

  • Eileen says:

    Hi Brenda–Getting my ms. in shape to (hopefully!) submit on 8/17. Pitch Wars is too enticing NOT to consider.

    My question: I’m about to send an edited full to a requesting agent I met with at a writers conference in May. Does this impact my eligibility for PW?

    Thanks so much. Imo, even if a writer doesn’t enter the contest, the experience of preparing for/ considering/ observing it all is golden.

  • Rachael says:

    Hi! If my MS has a prologue… do I submit that as my first chapter or submit my actual first chapter? Along those lines (and in case I don’t get selected) can you give me advice on what is standard when querying and having a prologue… do I send that as part of the sample included with the query or always skip the prologue or…??? Thanks so much! I’ve discovered so many great resources through this!

    • Brenda Drake says:

      Can the reader understand what’s going on in the first chapter without the prologue? Then send the first chapter (for both the contest and querying). Is the the prologue short (3 or less pages)? Then send it with the chapter for the contests. You want to send to agents the sample pages that “shows” your MC, so if you’re prologue doesn’t “show” your MC, then send the chapter to him/her.

  • cez says:

    About the query letter. What should it include. Just the standard one I’d send to an agent. What are the specifications? Checklist?

    • Brenda Drake says:

      Yes, your query should be the one you’d send to agents with “Dear Mentor” instead. No specifications. Just your normal agent query letter.

  • Gerry O'Brien says:

    To be clear: Submissions will start at midnight this Sunday night, and last til midnight on Monday?

    Or they start at midnight on Monday til midnight Tuesday?

  • Louise Ross says:

    J.C. Nelson’s webpage indicates acceptance of Adult or NA, but the submission sheet indicates only adult pieces. Can I get clarification if I can submit an NA piece?

  • cez says:

    Hi Brenda, sorry to be so specific, but should I include any contact details in my query.
    So far I’ve got ‘dear mentor’ + mini synopsis (250 words) + short bio + thank you. Is that it? I’m paranoid I’ll forget something.

  • Katie says:

    What a wonderful idea for a contest. Is this open to writers anywhere in the world, or is it USA only? (I’m Irish)

  • Ella says:

    Okay, I read through the comments, and apparently I’m the only one with a potentially stupid question. Is there a word limit to the query? I had a very short query, but I edited it because it had no “voice” and pretty much sucked. Now it’s over 500 words, and so now of course I saw a few people say they edited theirs to be under 250 words. I don’t see a word count in the submission guidelines. ??? Help!

  • Dave Clark says:

    My novel structure may be killing queries. My first chapter introduces an important character and the theme/overview of the novel, but my actual MC comes in during chapter 2. This could be noted from my sample and my query. I know this is unorthodox but when reading the ms., you’ll increasingly learn its importance. Is this likely going to destroy my chance of getting selected?

    • Brenda Drake says:

      In all manuscripts you have to hook the reader with the opening. The MC doesn’t necessarily have to be in it to do that. When reading, we look for the premise and voice first. So hopefully, you’ve done that. Hook with voice and premise. The mentors can ask for more pages if they want to see where it’s going.

  • sara bell welles says:

    does this include picture books 250 words?

  • Theresa says:

    A similar question was posed, but it wasn’t exactly the same so I’m going to ask again, forgive me. My entry is a sci-fi that could be considered NA or A. I went through all one hundred + mentors and selected those who are best fit and some as YA/NA and some are NA/A and some are A. I get that you don’t want stuff across lines, but I feel like it really could be listed under NA or A and was wondering if there’s a way to submit to both so it doesn’t just get tossed out when I list it as N/A or A. Does that make sense? Can you clarify?

  • Jessica says:

    First of all, you are awesome for doing this! Thank you.
    Next: Question!
    When you say this: “If you make it into Pitch Wars, you may not enter any contests or query after September 2 and during the mentoring period and until after the agent round, which is November 3-5.” I assume you mean that you cannot enter the MS involved in Pitch Wars in any contests or query that particular MS, correct? Are we still able to query other works not involved in Pitch Wars?

    • Brenda Drake says:

      It is the industry standard not to query two projects at a time. Industry professionals advise that you should query one before querying with another. With that said, we can’t keep you from querying other projects, just suggest holding off until you work with your mentor to see if there’s something you’re doing that can be fixed on all your manuscripts. So your call.

  • Susan says:

    Hi Brenda!

    Thanks for putting this together! Quick question before I submit: if I have an epistolary novel told in five parts, how many pages should I consider the first chapter? The first part runs at approximately 30 pages, with each entry being two-three pages.

    Thank you!


  • Hi, Brenda. I wanted to check on something. You mention above about not submitting to other contests or sending out queries during the Sept. 2 – Nov. 5. I registered for a regional SCBWI event back in June. On Sept. 26 they’re bringing in an editor as the speaker and she offered a 10-page written critique (not face-to-face). I paid back in June but haven’t sent the pages yet because they aren’t due until next week. Does that conflict with this contest? If so, I can talk to my RA about pulling out of the critique feedback.

  • Robin says:

    I don’t know if someone has already said anything, but a lot of the mentor links above are broken. I went through each one and at least 10 of them said there was nothing there or went to error pages.

We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

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