So I thought I might dispel that myth before anyone thinks about snarking on the lovely Brenda Drake and her PitchWars tribe. (AMENDING TO ADD: I have heard NOTHING from anyone along these lines - everyone has been awesome, but it seemed an appropriate time to write about something I've thought about since I heard it a few years ago - now that I've seen contesting from the other side.)
For the mentors, just like agents and editors, it really is all about the writing. If your writing is there, then you're up for consideration.
The mentors are ethical. I, personally, had three people that I've CP'ed for or who have CP'ed for me in the contest. I don't think that is so unusual. But before you point a finger and shout "See! See! This is what I'm talking about!", none of the mentors accepted submissions from our CP's (at least not that I'm aware of.) I even discovered one of my fellow @5amwriter friends in the slush pile because she'd been so close-mouthed about being a potential mentee, I didn't know she'd entered (and she didn't pitch to me).
Well, you knew them from Twitter so that's why you picked them. Again. False. In my case, I had followed one of my three mentees for a while, but we'd hardly ever had a conversation. The other two, I wasn't aware of till I read their pitches. But, being nice on Twitter helps, sometimes, which brings me to...
If it comes down to two equally well-written manuscripts that both sing to you in some way, just like you'd ask a friend about a potential date if they knew the person, you might get some feedback from other mentors. Conversely, if someone's been putting themselves out there in the writing world, making connections, gaining CP's, and doing the work--it shows. It's not about who you know, it's about the work you've been doing. I've never been an agent, but I imagine checking out a potential client is a lot like checking out a potential mentee. But Megan Whitmer said it better than me:
Finally, Point E
If you didn't get picked, use this as an opportunity to dig back in. This group of people you're contesting with and gathering CP's from, chances are, EVEN IF YOU DIDN'T GET PICKED FOR THIS CONTEST, some of you are going to be in the debut classes of '15, '16, & '17. Keep at it, because even though it's all about the writing, it never hurts to have friends to help make it better. And knowing people helps, because it shows you're doing the work and willing to sweat some words!
Thanks for those who pitched to me. I am forever grateful.