One Mentor’s Journey: Query Trenches to Published Author by Dan Koboldt
Feb02

One Mentor’s Journey: Query Trenches to Published Author by Dan Koboldt

POST BY: Dan Koboldt Pitching contests can be a double edged sword. On one hand, they offer aspiring authors a chance to get some additional exposure to literary agents, often with the input of author-mentors who’ve already managed to land one. On the other hand, they’re notoriously hard to get into, meaning that the vast majority of hopeful entrants will get a rejection instead. I’ve been on both sides of these pitching contests. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. But without them, my life would not be the same. Let’s hit the rewind button to two years ago.   The Author Side In January 2014, I’d begun querying a manuscript for an adult sci-fi novel. That’s when I first got wind of #PitMad, a Twitter pitching event for authors seeking representation or publication. I entered, and I made tons of friends. But I struck out, agent-wise. Soon after, I heard about Sun Versus Snow and Pitch Madness, which were more involved contests. I entered those, too, and waited on tenterhooks with hundreds of other authors who hoped to nab one of the slots. When I didn’t get in, I was devastated. Most writers put their hearts into their work, and so each rejection is like a punch to the gut. But I’m stubborn, so I kept querying the old-fashioned way. A couple of months later, I got an offer of representation. Landing An Agent Landing an agent is an important milestone for the aspiring author. It opens so many doors. Suddenly, the hosts of those contests that I hadn’t gotten into were asking me to mentor for them. Secret communities of neo-pro writers granted me access. It’s more than knowing that your manuscript will go out to the big five. It’s like being handed keys to a kingdom you never knew existed. The thing is, I’d made so many friends in the query trenches. I didn’t consider myself an expert at getting an agent, but I wanted them to have the secret keys, too. So I started my own pitching event (#SFFpit) just for sci-fi and fantasy authors. And I said hell yes, I’ll mentor for those pitching contests. Those were some of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The Mentor Side When I first became a mentor for Pitch Wars, it was a bit intimidating. Most of the other mentors had done it before. Some had gotten book deals or already been published. I was a newbie and had no idea what to expect. I’d landed an agent, but that was the extent of my credibility. It was a shock when 70 entrants picked me...

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