A Rev/Pit Experience

For NaNoWriMo in November 2019, I wrote a book, which I’ll refer to as Fire WIP. I had been querying a previous manuscript since June, which received a decent amount of requests but ultimately ended in rejections. I was crushed. But, as writers, we know we have to move on to a new project in the hopes that maybe that will be The One.

I worked on my Fire WIP well into 2020. I submitted it to Author Mentor Match, and was lucky to receive two full requests! But when both of those came back in rejections, I started realizing maybe this book wasn’t as ready for querying as I once thought. I had a few wonderful CPs take a look at it, and based off their feedback, I did another round of edits.

Around mid-March, I heard about Revise & Resubmit, AKA RevPit. With RevPit, you submit your manuscript to two professional editors. If chosen by one, you work with them from May to July, and on July 1st, there’s an agent showcase.

Right away, I saw two editors who basically asked for my exact book on their wishlist. I submitted my manuscript and held my breath. Keep in mind, this was also when COVID really hit. I was already going stir-crazy, felt incredibly bummed about the end of my senior year of undergrad getting cut short, and overall had a lot of anxiety for the world.

When I received full manuscript requests from both editors, I was floored. I eagerly sent it off, and on the day when the winners were announced, a rock was in my stomach from nerves. I scrolled through the list and screamed when I saw my name. My manuscript had been chosen by Katie McCoach.

This is when my RevPit experience truly took off. Within a week, Katie and I hopped on a Zoom call to talk about my book. She was so insightful and kind, pointing out areas of the book she loved and positively critiquing aspects she felt could be tightened up. We had two main goals: shorten the word count and up the suspense.

Another big problem point was the second chapter. My first chapter was fairly solid, but the second chapter needed work. So, Katie suggested we start with revising Act Two. I had never done that before, so with a Google Doc full of notes from Katie taken from our call, I began to revise.

And boy, it was tough. But, it was also a welcome distraction from the anxieties going on around me. Suddenly, I had a purpose again. I combed through Act Two, completely cut an entire character, added a murder, and upped the suspense tremendously. I think one of the most important things I learned from my time with Katie is there truly can never be a down moment. Every chapter has to be important to the plot somehow, even the soft, quiet ones.

I sent Act Two off to Katie and began working on Act Three, and then once both of those were approved, we tackled Act One together. Personally, I had a great experience with turnaround times. However, I will say that with any mentor-mentee competition, you have to take each story with a grain of salt. A lot depends on your mentor, sometimes things depend on external factors, and sometimes it depends on you! I have a fairly quick work ethic, which Katie was graciously receptible to.

We had at least three or four Zoom calls to brainstorm during the duration of those two months. She thankfully really liked my edits, and then all that was left was polishing the first five pages, my query letter, and my synopsis. We went back and forth with multiple drafts of those during the weekend leading up to the showcase, and then sent my materials off.

During those two months, I also was lucky enough to receive incredible support from the other RevPit winners. We’re in a group chat all together, and even with the competition now over, we still talk regularly. It’s lovely conversing with so many writers who are going through similar experiences as you.

In my opinion, one of the best parts of RevPit is the opportunity for your work to be put in front of agents. While the showcase is a quieter affair compared to bigger competitions, I still garnered about five agent requests. I put some finishing touches on my manuscript and sent the requests out with a first batch of queries about a week later.

I can’t say too much now because I’m in the midst of some exciting decisions, but after sending eighteen queries out, I so far have a 50% request rate. I truly believe that without the help of Katie and the RevPit experience, I wouldn’t have seen so many requests. I’m so excited to see what my future might hold and am so thankful for this experience. I strongly encourage anyone with a decently polished manuscript to think about submitting to RevPit or other mentor competitions in general. There’s truly nothing to lose and in the best case scenario, you might get chosen and have the experience of a lifetime. And if not, you’ll make some lovely friends along the way and can still keep working on your manuscript until it’s query-ready!

Author: Mackenzie Reed