Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson

Choosing is HARD, y’all.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

In 2015 I entered my novel in a little contest called Pitch Wars, hoping to be mentored. I didn’t make it. There’s something absolutely devastating about seeing that list go up, scanning for your name, and not finding it listed. I was hurt, but I got some good feedback, let it settle, and kept on writing.

In 2016, I tried again. This time, my name was on the list of mentees, even though through careful denial and self-preservation instincts, I’d told myself it wouldn’t be there. I was much happier. Little did I know exactly how busy I was about to be.

Pitch Wars went by. I made it to the agent showcase. I got requests. All around me, mentees were excitedly sharing the offers they’d had. I didn’t get one.

A year went by. I still didn’t have an offer. What I did have were some fantastic critique partners, one of whom asked a simple question about one of the secondary characters in my Pitch Wars manuscript. I don’t think she knew at the time that she was going to spawn a dynasty, I mean, a four-book series, but that’s exactly what happened. I wrote the second book, had it edited (yay!), entered it in the Golden Heart contest, and entered it into #KissPitch and the March edition of #PitMad.

I started getting requests.

At the end of March 2018, more than a year and a half after the agent showcase, that Pitch Wars sequel was named a Golden Heart finalist, and I received a number of offers of representation. Also in 2018, I applied to be a Pitch Wars mentor.

I wasn’t accepted.

Rejection in all its forms never really gets easier, but I figured it was not meant to be. I kept writing. I wrote the other two books in my series (just a note for those of you thinking of doing the same: I am all for following our passion when it comes to writing. However, wisdom states that we probably shouldn’t go about trying to write sequels when the first book hasn’t sold. Fair warning, that’s probably right, as I sit here with three years’ worth of unsold series, although your mileage may certainly vary).

In 2019, I initially waffled about applying as a Pitch Wars mentor. Like I said, rejection never gets easier. But finally I shook off the self-doubt and imposter syndrome that follows me around like a bad shadow regardless of the weather, took the plunge, and applied again. This time, I was accepted.

Just like before, when I was a mentee, I had no idea how much work was ahead of me and how busy I’d get. I thought, well, I’m a first-time mentor. I’ll be lucky if I get a few submissions.

Holy cow, y’all. I got snowed under with submissions. It was a veritable avalanche of subs. But I’m nothing if not persistent, so I dug out from under and read them all. I explained my process on Twitter, if you’re interested in reading it.

I didn’t talk numbers there, because my mama and papa always taught me talking numbers was rude. But here, I’ll be confessional. I got 250 submissions. Out of those, I requested 23 manuscripts, either full or partial. I read 8 complete manuscripts, did not quite finish 6 other complete manuscripts, and read the partials on 9 more. That was a lot of reading.

Imagine going trick-or-treating. You come home with 250 unique pieces of candy you like, but you only get to keep ONE. There are so many favorites, so you sort them. You agonize over your favorites. You go back and forth–this one! No, THIS one! No, this–until you just can’t think any more. Yet people are waiting for you to choose, and each of those candies has feelings that you will hurt by not picking it.

That’s what it’s like, being a Pitch Wars mentor and having to choose one manuscript/one mentee out of the whole submission field. It’s daunting. It’s damned near impossible.

All in all, I got a blend of everything I asked for–and more. Here’s the breakdown by numbers, purely in alphabetical order:

Contemporary Fiction – 17
Contemporary Romance – 49
Cyberpunk – 1
Fantasy – 9
Fantasy Romance – 6
Gothic – 4
Historical Fiction – 7
Historical Romance – 12
Horror – 1
Literary Fiction – 15
Mystery – 1
New Adult Contemporary – 5
New Adult Fantasy – 4
New Adult Fantasy Romance – 2
Paranormal – 6
Romantic Comedy – 6
Romantic Suspense – 1
Science Fiction – 8
SciFi Romance – 5
Thriller – 1
Urban Fantasy – 9
Women’s Fiction – 81

Those of you who are mathematically inclined can figure out the percentages! Make sweet pie charts! Color code it!

Once again, thank you ALL for submitting your work to me. It’s been an honor having the opportunity to read, agonizing having to choose, and an all-around wonderful experience.

Author: G.L. Jackson

Writer of women's fiction and steamy contemporary romance. Reader, photographer, cat wrangler. Mostly, I just like pretending to be a different person each day of the week.

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