Hi there Pitch Wars people. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’s the agent round. How’s everybody doing?
That good? Excellent. Well try to breathe. I know you’ve got a lot invested in this, and most of you probably aren’t going to hear what I’m saying. But I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway. The agent round doesn’t really matter. Look, it’s a great opportunity. There are some wonderful agents participating, and it’s great to get requests from people who really want to see your work. But if you don’t get the request you want from the agent you want, it’s not the end of the world. There’s a chance they didn’t even get a chance to read your entry. There are like 150 posts. That’s a lot of reading. A failure to request is not a rejection, and querying works.
To try to give a little context, I asked Pitch Wars mentees from last year who have signed with agents to share their stories. I’ll go first. I got one request in the agent round. I signed with my agent four months later from a cold query. Here are some other stories:
Sean Grigsby: I received three requests during the agent round. While waiting to hear back, I finished and began querying a completely different book that got me my agent.
K Kazul Wolf: My first time in PW I got a few requests, signed with an agent, who then dumped me shortly after. Second PW, I got zero requests and some pretty scathing responses the queries sent afterward. Almost two years after the first PW and 200 queries later, I signed with my dream agent. (Mike’s Note: This is really an amazing story. You can read more about it here.)
Becky Dean: I received six requests in the agent round, and while waiting on those, I sent lots of additional standard queries for the same book. I signed with my agent in February off one of those other queries.
MK England: I received nine requests during the agent round, but my fantastic agent came from a cold query sent immediately after. She gave me an R&R in late November, and I signed with her a few months later. Of the three offers I received, only one came from a nudged agent round participant. (Mike’s Note: Add her book on goodreads here. It looks Ah-Maze-ing.)
Kat Hinkel: I had 4 requests in the agent round. I queried my agent a few weeks after. Getting the requests was great but didn’t lead to my agent. But I think saying I was a #PitchWars alum in my query letter helped!
Suzanne Marie: I had three requests from the agent round, but I sent out twenty queries directly after. All of the PW requests were eventual passes. I signed with Sharon in December.
Leigh Mar: ZRC, babies. I had ZERO requests during Pitch Wars. None on my page, no ninja requests behind the scenes. I sent my first query Nov. 22. I got my first offer of rep on Jan. 29. I wound up getting two offers (one even came from a PW agent who did not request from me during the agent round). I sent 59 queries total and saw a 36% request rate (including many reqs from PW agents I queried after). Some stories just work better as a query than a pitch.
Lyndsay Ely: I had six requests from the agent round, but the agent I ended up signing with had requested materials via a Twitter contest months before. When she offered, I was able to send her my much stronger Pitch Wars version! (Mike’s note: Her book deal just got announced! Add her book on Goodreads here.)
Jim O’Donnell: With ninjas, I had 12 requests which led to zero offers. I signed with my agent almost exactly a year after PW started with the next book I wrote.
Wendy Parris: I had 13 requests in the agent round which was beyond exhilarating! Then the rejections started. I kept querying while awaiting responses, which was a good thing since none of my PW requests turned into offers. Six months to the day after the Pitch Wars agent round started, I signed with my agent off a cold query
Sheena Boekweg: My agent requested the full a month before Pitch Wars started. I had to put her on hold while I revised, which terrified me because she was such a dream agent. I think I had seven fulls out when I got into Pitch Wars, and a few sent a rejection after I told them I was revising. I ended up with 6 requests from the agent round. I sent off the requests and then sent the revised manuscript to the agents who had requested the full before agent round. My dream agent stuck around, loved the revision, and we signed about a month after Pitch Wars.
Julie Artz: I got seven requests during the Agent Round, so I was absolutely positive I would get an offer and devastated when I didn’t. But I picked myself up, wrote a new story, and got an offer from the very first agent I queried with the new manuscript (albeit about six weeks after I sent her the full). People always say just keep writing. And they’re 100% correct.
Leah Collum: I had three requests in the agent round (including one ninja request.) I signed with a non Pitch Wars agent I queried based off a client referral.
Heidi Stallman: I had 1 official request and two “ninja” requests during the agent round. After a slow start querying, I revised my first first three chapters (and changed their order) with my mentor’s help. I got my agent 5 months after the agent round with a standard query and my shiny new beginning (which alas, was the first thing my agent wanted revised). (Mike’s note: Heidi has the best agent in the world. Really. You can look it up.)
Michella Domenici: I got seven requests in the Agent Round. I sent lots of queries in November and the following months. In January, I revised my opening pages based on feedback from an agent. Here’s the fun part: in February, my agent requested the full based on the original opening pages from a November query! Looks like it was always meant to be.
E.S. Wesley: I got zero requests in the agent round, but tons of full requests after the agent round and sold my manuscript without an agent to a small press around Christmas. Queried my next manuscript in April/May, signed with agent in June. (Mike’s note: Add his book on Goodreads here.)
Elle Jauffret: I got three requests in the agent round, but received more than a dozen requests for my full when I cold queried shortly after. I signed three months later with one of these agents.
Cindy Baldwin: I got six requests in the agent round. I had a 20-25% request rate consistently for my pitch wars MS while querying, but ultimately exhausted my agent list without getting an agent. When I wrote my next book, though, with the help of my new PW CPs, I was able to create the strongest story I’d ever written! I began querying it in mid-March; within six weeks I’d had 10 agent offers, and within five months I’d sold that book at auction. My pitch wars MS remains shelved, for now, but the whole experience was a powerful lesson in moving forward and not giving up on my dreams! (Mike’s note: Add her book on Goodreads here.)
Isabel Davis: I had two requests during the agent round. Afterward, I queried wildly and got an R+R from an intern working at an agency. Even though this agency never ultimately offered, I felt like the experience was a fruitful one, especially for my PW book. I again started to query with my revised PW book, and landed an agent through the twitter contest DVPIT, 5 months after Pitch Wars.
Monica Hoffman: I got one request and one ninja request during the agent round. Neither resulted in an agent offer. I jumped into the query trenches after the agent round and it took 5 months before I signed with my agents through a twitter pitch party called #DVpit
Maria Mora: I got four last-minute requests in the agent round. I connected with my agent during #SFFPit, sent her a query, and signed with her six months later after an R&R.
Believe me yet? I can keep doing this all day. If you ask the Pitch Wars mentees from 2014, they’re going to tell you the same kind of stories. The important thing to remember is to take advantage of any chances you get. Some of those chances might come from the agent round. Some of them will come from other places. There are as many different paths to success as there are people travelling them. You are on your own journey. Keep your head up, and enjoy the path.