12 March 2018
For those who are unfamiliar with this contest, it's a chance for authors who are querying or getting ready to query their novels to win 5 weeks of editing with a professional editor. There is no submission fee, and all the editors volunteer their time and expertise. The feedback we got last year was intensely gratifying: those who followed the Twitter feed, whether they submitted to the contest or no, learned a ton about writing and querying and were able to improve their query letters and opening pages as a result. As an added bonus, many came away from the experience with new writer friends and critique partners. Regardless of whether you're thinking of submitting, I highly encourage you to learn more about the contest at reviseresub.com. Submissions open April 21st.
This is my fourth time participating in a contest like this (P2P16 twice in 2016 and RevPit last year), and by now I have my approach to selecting and working with authors pretty well nailed down. Since the editors' processes tend to be of interest to authors submitting to the contest - both to get a sense of how much work is involved for us and to learn what to expect - in this post I'll give you a peek into my own process. Please note that each of us editors take a different approach; unless otherwise noted, what I am about to divulge pertains to me alone.
April 16-20: #AskEditor Week
Each editor will run two hour-long Q&A sessions on Twitter using the #AskEditor and #RevPit hashtags. This is a great opportunity for entrants to ask us clarifying questions about what kinds of submissions we'll be accepting for the contest as well as learn about our tastes in literature and editing styles and about writing, editing, and querying in general.
April 21-22: Submission Weekend
Submissions open at 9am ET on Saturday the 21st and close at 11:59pm on Sunday the 22nd, so it's important for entrants to prepare their submission materials in advance. This weekend is a flurry of activity on the #RevPit hashtag as authors announce to the world they've submitted, the editors ask for teasers and run WIP games, and we all bask in the general excitement.
Since I'm always super excited to see what comes into my submission inbox, I will start reading submissions on Saturday night, but I won't tweet my first #10queries (brief, anonymous feedback about ten of my submissions) until Sunday night or Monday morning.
April 23-29: Selection Week
Here is where the real fun (and work) begins! My job during selection week is to read through all of my submissions and narrow the choices down to The One I want to work with for the 5 weeks of editing. I'll also be tweeting my #10queries. While we editors are only required to tweet #10queries for 20 of their submissions, I choose to tweet #10queries for every submission I receive. I'll announce on Twitter when I plan to tweet #10queries. and at the end of each day (which is sometimes 2 or 3 in the morning), I email my *very brief* feedback to the people whose submissions I tweeted that day so that they're not left hanging/agonizing too terribly long.
Here's my process and criteria for narrowing down the submissions:
Monday & Tuesday - Finish the first read-through of submissions. As I make notes and tweet my #10queries, submissions go into two piles: Pass and Maybe. The most common reasons I pass on a manuscript at this stage are: 1) it doesn't fit my MSWL; 2) I can tell the ms needs something other than a couple of rounds of high-level edits to be query-ready; and 3) the opening pages didn't grab me, usually because there was too much exposition and too little scene.
Wednesday - Tweet my remaining #10queries. Second read of the Maybe pile.* Choose up to 10 submissions from the Maybe pile that I want to see more of, which become my Requests for Partials (RFPs). Send emails to my RFPs asking for the first 50 pages, the 5 pages that include the Darkest Moment, and the last 2 pages of the manuscript. This gives me a pretty darn good idea of the book's overall structure and the kinds of work that the manuscript needs as a whole.
*Fun fact: in last year's contest I ended up with about 50 submissions in my Maybe pile. O_o And that was despite trying really, really hard to be picky.
Thursday to Sunday - Read my RFPs, take notes, and choose The One. My final choice is determined by: 1) how well the ms fits my mission statement for the contest: "character-driven narratives that explore important questions about being human in ways that are fresh, accessible, deeply connecting, and entertaining"; 2) real feels; 3) whether I believe we can get the ms query-ready in the time we have to work on it; and 4) that ineffable tingliness I get from reading the pages.
April 30-June 4: The Editing
The author-editor pairs will be announced at 12pm (noon) ET on Monday, April 30th. I'll be on Twitter, as ridiculously excited as everyone else to see whom the other editors chose, to celebrate with the winning authors and offer words of encouragement to those who weren't selected this time around.
The One and I will work together for 5 weeks to get their ms query-ready, and my other RFP authors will each receive 2-3 pages of feedback from me on their partials. Because my first priority will be to start working with my chosen author, it might take a couple of weeks for all of my RFP feedback to go out. I also offer the authors who made it into my Maybe pile an additional paragraph of feedback on their submissions if they want it. Again, it might take me 2-3 weeks to respond to those requests, but respond I will.
As you can probably tell, it's a lot of work to do a contest like this (or at least to do it the way I do it). I anticipate putting in 70-80 hours from the time submissions open until I send the #RevPit admin the name of my chosen author, and another 40-50 hours over the 5 weeks of editing working with my author. But I continue to do it because it's a TON of fun and incredibly rewarding, and I can't wait to connect with existing writer friends, make new ones, read this year's submissions, and get to work on another amazing book!