I haven't begun to read mine yet, and I am frightened.
I ended up being the ninth most popular mentor out of the forty-six of us (well, at least that was my "rank" when I counted at the beginning of yesterday). I received over seventy hopefuls. Three of our mentors (that I counted) got over 100 submissions. (Good luck, ladies.)
We've been having a few e-mail issues, and those have clogged up our process, but I think we've got it straightened out now. But I still wouldn't have started yet. For the record, it's mostly because I got a book deal at a kind of difficult time, and my publisher's requests for information have kept me a bit busy the last few days. I'll be able to start devouring submissions when I get through with my publisher's questionnaire.
But once I start, here's how I plan to handle my submissions!
- I will open each submission and read the query letter. I will make notes on what I like and don't like.
- If the query letter makes me want to read the material, I will read the included pages. That's right--I may actually not read them at all. Just like an agent. I'm thinking most of my potential mentees will at least write a query letter well enough to make me want to read the pages, but there are some who don't. I will make notes on the writing.
- I will prepare a letter that outlines each submitter's strengths and weaknesses. This may sound weird, but the MORE criticism an author gets from me, the BETTER they probably already are. If there's a lot to fix in the query and pages, I will not be interested, and I will consider the time investment too costly. So if I crap all over an author, they're probably almost there, because I think they're close enough to be worth the spanking.
- I will privately rank each submission. As I read through them, I will put them in a list, putting the ones I like best at the top and the ones I like least at the bottom. At the end, I'll have a quantitative list of every potential mentee from best to worst (in my opinion). The top three will be my mentee and alternates.
- Before I've decided for sure on my top three, I may request additional pages from a small portion of my applicants. I request pages very, very rarely. I will almost definitely request more material from fewer than ten participants, and it will probably be fewer than five. But I will definitely request those three chapters from anyone I'm considering as an alternate or mentee. I probably will NOT be requesting synopses or outlines. Your requests from me will be late. Probably not for a few days. Don't lose hope. You will not find out whether you are one of my picks until Brenda announces them on December 11, but if you get a pages request from me, you will know you're on a very short list.
- Authors who have applied to me are invited to stay in touch throughout and after the contest. Even for those I do not choose, I may be available in the future to critique submission materials and even full books, but only if we develop a rapport and they don't respond to feedback by throwing hissy fits. (I'm afraid this has happened to me.) I acquired a very sweet critique partner in my last contest mentoring experience and I edited her entire book even though doing so wasn't part of the contest. One of my other picks from last year is agented (though it didn't happen through our contest), and another has gone on to self-publish (and seems very popular!). I really hope I don't lose a bunch of Twitter followers because of people being sad or mad that I didn't choose them--that has also happened--but if you stay in touch with me, I'll be happy to give you all the help I can once the contest and my publishing preparations aren't taking up the lion's share of my time.