Changed for good—and for the better!
I had the treat of serving as an editor for Writer Pitch’s Pitch to Publication contest (hosted by Samantha Fountain) this past summer. It was an experience that I highly recommend not only to writers who are ready to grow their book into an agent-ready draft but also to freelance developmental editors who have the time to give away some work and build great relationships.
After hearing from 130 hopeful, talented authors and narrowing down my interests to 11 partial manuscripts that caught my attention, I ultimately spent August working with Kyrie McCauley, a first-time author whose story caught me from day one. While Kyrie is still waiting to hear back from some agents, my part in this summer’s contest is over. I’ve had some time to process, so here’s a list of eight things I got out of the Pitch to Publication event.
1: A way to give back
A lot of great people have poured into my writing and editing skills over the years, and I’ve learned things from them that I wouldn’t have learned on my own. I want to help other writers to feel that same sense of growth. Unfortunately for me, I can’t make a living by editing everyone’s manuscripts for free, but I couldn’t think of a better way than Pitch to Publication to give back a little. The experience was extremely rewarding for me, and I’ll definitely be back in March to do it again. I’m even thinking about expanding over to the #PitchWars hopefuls next year, too!
I got to form some neat relationships during Pitch to Publication. While I was tweeting through entries and other contest updates, my number of followers (and authors I follow back) skyrocketed, and I’m still connected with a lot of those writers. I even have regular conversations with some of them! They’re an unbelievably caring bunch. They sent SO MANY HUGS when I got my wisdom teeth out this summer, and I try to send hugs back when they’re having down days.
Before I joined the Pitch to Publication family, my Twitter community was still fairly new and small. Because of my involvement in the contest, though, I got to let a lot more writers know that I was out there for them. It was a safe way for me to get to know who some of the most committed writers were as well as a way for them to know that I was a safe and legitimate freelance editor to get involved with. I loved seeing the networking opportunities that both sides got out of this experience!
4: An expanded editor network
As if the sweet authors weren’t enough of a pleasure, the other Pitch to Publication editors were an amazing bunch. Every last one of them cared deeply about their authors and manuscripts, and it was inspiring to be around that passion. Some even worked with two authors over the month of August—wow! I feel confident in sending editing clients their way if I or my MS Editors teammates are not a good fit.
5: An amazing read
It was a hard choice picking a book to work with when there were so many qualified choices, but I’m absolutely confident that I picked the right one! Forget the fact that I was supposed to be the one giving something to Kyrie; she gave something to ME when she sent me her manuscript. I would have read Lionhearted (working title) over and over if it had been around when I was younger, and I’ll be reading it over and over again once it’s published. I may or may not have cried my way through a significant portion of the book before remembering I had to go back and give constructive feedback…
6: Previews of other great books
I read the first 50 pages of ten other books besides Lionhearted, and I loved them, too! It killed me that I couldn’t work with them all, but I’ll be behind their paths to publication all the way! They were great people and skilled authors, and I’m so glad they trusted me with those early pages.
7: Insight into the query process
I’ve worked a lot with the writing and editing steps of the book process and much less with the details of getting them submitted and published. Because of that, I’ve never worked with queries—I always send them to someone who does (like Lara Willard or Kyra Nelson). Now, after having seen 130 queries coming my way, I’ve learned to recognize some of the strengths and weaknesses that give a query its special “something.” Do I know what every agent will like? No, but while I was learning what I like, I also learned some good and bad habits for queries and synopses.
8: A fuller sense of current story patterns
The crowd that showed up in my inbox for Pitch to Publication was a bigger, slightly-different crowd than I’ve worked with before. If I was wondering who is writing what plots these days, I know now! I’ve seen some obvious plot tendencies as well as some weak and strong writing tendencies in the first few pages I was sent, giving me an enhanced sense of what pops out in terms of stories, not only in terms of queries.
It’s your turn!
Writers, you’ve got the winter to work on your own revisions, getting your manuscript presentable and ready for professional analysis. If you enter, you’ve got a chance to hook up with some amazing editors and agents and see your book in print sooner than later. Even if you don’t make it through all the rounds, you’ll be forever grateful for the family of writers you’ll get to join online.
Editors, if you’re qualified, considering volunteering your time to help grow that one special manuscript that is sure to come your way. You’ll join this same amazing community and get to help a qualified author get their new manuscript from pitch to publication.
For more on Pitch to Publication, follow the hashtag #PitchtoPublication or the host Samantha Fountain at @fountainwriter on Twitter. More details will be shared through her blog at sfountain.com or the Writer Pitch site at writerpitch.com.
Find me here or on Twitter as @ekbuege, and find my author at @kyriemccauley.