For many years, PitchWars has been one of the most high profile mentorship programmes within the writing community and has offered many authors with valuable learning opportunities. With the recent revelation that PW has come to a close, we speak to some former mentees to reflect on how their experiences have been like and what the future holds for them in the world of publishing!
Today, we introduce Erin Fulmer from the Class of 2020!
Erin Fulmer (she/her) is a public benefits attorney by day, author of urban fantasy and science fiction by night. A 2020 Pitch Wars alumna, she lives in sunny Northern California with her husband and two spoiled cats. When she’s not writing or working, she enjoys yoga, taking pictures of the sky, playing board games with friends, and napping like it’s an Olympic sport.
CAMBION’S BLOOD, the second book in her Cambion series and sequel to her debut urban fantasy CAMBION’S LAW, is out June 7 from City Owl Books.
Twitter: @ErinFulmer | Instagram: @erinfulmerwrites | Facebook: @ErinFulmerWrite | Website
Path2pub: Tell us a little about your PitchWars project!
Erin: The novel I submitted to Pitch Wars was an ambitious labor of love: a science fiction mystery with three interwoven POVs about a woman who goes missing with a priceless jump ship prototype and leaves behind a scar in spacetime. Each of the main characters—a detective, a starship captain, and a socialite in a gilded cage—have a piece of the puzzle, but they have to travel a long way to put the pieces together and find out what happened to the missing woman. It’s an expansive adventure across the galaxy, but it’s also extremely personal, because underneath all the Cool Science Stuff, its core is fueled by a tale of relational trauma, toxic patterns, and the lengths this character goes to break free of those patterns.
Path2pub: Why did you apply to PitchWars?
Erin: It took me a long time to finally take my writing seriously, and when I did, I spent about a year lurking around writing/publishing Twitter silently absorbing everything. I saw talk about Pitch Wars and played around with the idea of submitting until the last minute in 2019. At the zero hour, with minimal prep, I submitted my urban fantasy (CAMBION’S LAW, 2021) to the competition. I got zero requests from my chosen mentors that year. I felt bad about it for a while, but I decided I would try with a new project the following year. I had this space book waiting in the wings, so I spent a lot of 2020 rewriting and polishing that manuscript, finally writing the ending, and preparing hard to apply. I was very determined because I knew I needed more to take me to the next level of writing skill than what I could do by myself. I knew nothing about publishing except that I wanted in.
Path2pub: What was the highlight of your PitchWars experience?
Erin: I was extremely fortunate to have my manuscript selected by Ren Hutchings (author of Under Fortunate Stars, coming May 10, 2022!) and I knew as soon as I started exchanging ideas with them that they would be a great mentor for me. We vibed on the same frequency and we kind of mindmelded this book into being in its current form. It’s very different than it was when I started, even though the core story is still the same, and the experience of reshaping it like that in this creative partnership with someone who GOT me was amazing. It helped me develop my confidence as a writer and taught me the value of revisions.
Path2pub: What was the greatest challenge you faced during your PitchWars experience?
Erin: The stress of the short timeline left me short on sleep. I barely remember everything that happened in those two months, although I wasn’t unhappy, just very absorbed and a bit frantic. The comedown from Pitch Wars, after the showcase, was the hardest part, though. I struggled with comparing my progress with my classmates, especially when it became clear my book wasn’t going to be snapped up immediately by agents. It isn’t a race but sometimes it feels like one, and it can be easy to feel like you’re losing.
Path2pub: What was the impact of PitchWars on your publishing journey?
Erin: It taught me the ropes. I knew almost nothing about publishing when I started. My mentor was the person in my corner when I signed my book deal for my urban fantasy before I was agented and they helped me navigate all this new territory. I also gained an incredible community of talented peers whom I stayed in touch with to this day. My classmates have taught me a ton about writing craft and the publishing world. And of course, my Pitch Wars book did finally get me my agent – it just took a solid nine months!
Path2pub: If you had to use one word to describe your feelings towards PitchWars coming to an end, what would that word be and why?
Erin: Sadness. I was looking forward to giving back to the writing community by becoming a mentor myself and I thought I would have more time to do that! Feeling that sadness made me realize how important that step of giving back is to me, so I am pursuing other avenues, but I would have loved to be part of the program from the other side.
Path2pub: We hear that you’ve recently released a book and that there’s a sequel on the way! We’d love to hear about your amazing book and what the experience working with an indie publisher has been like.
Erin: CAMBION’S LAW released in November 2021. It’s an urban fantasy about a half-succubus lawyer who grapples with her ability to influence human emotions and desires while solving a supernatural murder mystery. Along the way she has to confront her past and figure out how to use her power ethically as she starts a relationship with someone new. It’s the first original novel I finished and revised, as opposed to the zero drafts I have lying around. The sequel, CAMBION’S BLOOD, is coming out June 7.
Working with City Owl Press has been a great experience overall, despite the extra marketing and publicity I do. My editor, Heather McCorkle, has been a true champion for my work and supported me while I sought agency representation. I’m also impressed by the way the press has grown even while I’ve been with them. The founders are so dedicated and are very responsive to their authors, and we get a lot of input in production that I don’t think you get at bigger houses.
Path2pub: What does the future hold for you in the publishing world?
Erin: More books, I hope! I’m on sub right now with my sci fi and crossing my fingers that my heart book will find a good home. But I’ve already started working on some new projects. I’m hoping to continue my urban fantasy series and branch out into some other SFF subgenres. If I can build a respectable backlist and core readership, and keep writing the things I love, I will be very happy.
Path2pub: What advice would you give to an author who’s trying to break into traditional publishing?
Erin: I hope you’re doing it for love because it won’t make you rich or famous unless you get super lucky. I don’t mean to be harsh in saying that, but writing isn’t glamorous or easy and it’s not worth it to work this hard unless you truly love it.
Most of the truisms you hear are actually good advice: querying is a numbers game, be persistent, keep writing. Don’t pin all your hopes on just one book, because each book is a learning experience. Even if it doesn’t become your breakout novel, it’s going to teach you something new. Always be learning, stay curious about new ways of doing things, and find a community of writers to learn from and learn with.
No matter how good your writing, you will never please every reader, so write what you love first and find the readers that love it too. Publishing is low on external validation and high on arbitrary success stories, which means you’ve got to have that deep determination and passion for the work to fuel you through the low points. Your writing has to matter to you long before it matters to anybody else.
Path2pub: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Erin: Along with writing fiction, I blog about writing and publishing! You can find it on my website https://erinfulmer.com/blog/ and I try to post a new article every week. Topics I’ve covered include my own publishing experience, how to spot agent red flags, query advice, writing craft tips, marketing/social media how tos, and more. I love writing long form and I’m trying to make blogging a thing again, so if you’re interested in the publishing biz, you should definitely check it out! (And y’know buy my book and stuff if you’re into that kind of thing: https://books2read.com/cambion1UBL/)
Path2pub: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences with our readers! We look forward to seeing more of your work on the shelves in the future 🙂