Crafting a Pitch

I’ve been working on pitches this week, trying to get a handle on how we’ll be pitching the #PitchWars books we’ve been working on.

Pitches aren’t easy and I tend to make mine WAY too long that they’re basically summaries instead of pitches.

What I’ve boiled it down to is a pitch needs to do the following:

  1. Name the main character
  2. Set the setting
  3. Give the stakes
  4. Give some comps

But then when I started researching pitches, I found that not all successful pitches had all 4 of the above components. Some just listed comps. Some didn’t include the setting. Some didn’t include the stakes. It was all about how it was crafted.

So is there a right way to write a pitch? YES, absolutely. And guess who can tell you about it way better than I can? Traci Chee, author of the incredible book, THE READER which came out last month.

Take a minute and check it out!

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#PitchWars Picks

So as I’ve mentioned earlier, I am a #PitchWars mentor this year and boy has it been fun!giphy

All in all, we had 141 submissions and of these we requested 28 fulls. You can find the exact breakdown of genre on Lynnette’s blog post HERE.

I was a little nervous going into this because Lynnette and I have never worked together before and all of a sudden, we needed to go through a ton of submissions and find ones that we could both agree on. How were we going to deal with SUBJECTIVITY??

But we had a great baseline: we knew we wanted something dark and twisty (probably in the Fantasy genre) and we both LOVE books. Those two factors were MORE than enough and we had a blast going through all the submissions. I was even able to tap into my nerd and made a Trello board that had 8 designations for requested materials.

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Half of our #PitchWars Trello Board

We were blown away by all the dark and twisty that ended up in our inbox and went through several “THIS IS THE ONE” wait, no, “THIS IS THE ONE” moments.

But then we came across Meghan Jashinsky’s A COURT OF GLITTERING CRIMSON and it was the first one that got an enthusiastic, YES from both of us. But we knew to make it more marketable, we needed to address the magical system which was going to be a big re-write.

We contacted Meghan before the submission period was over to see if she would even be open to making such a big change and she was. THEN came the part where we had to fight off other mentors from offering to mentor hers as well.

Long story short, we were able to snag Meghan’s manuscript and we couldn’t be more happy about it!

But that’s not where the story ends!

Lynnette and I had also loved Tracie Martin‘s THEN BEGGARS WOULD RIDE, a YA literary thriller that has a voice that will keep you up at night. BEGGARS was our #2 pick and we were campaigning hardcore behind the scenes to try to get other mentors to pick it up because it totally deserved some PitchWars love.

Then, the day of the big reveal, I found out I had won a wildcard spot and I could pick one more book to mentor if I so wished (or I could pass it on to another mentor). Due to Lynnette’s active editing business, she knew her schedule would only permit her to mentor one manuscript, but I felt so strongly for BEGGARS that I offered to mentor it myself!

SO there it goes!

I am mentoring both Meghan and Tracie for #PitchWars2016!

These books are high-concept, dark, gory, beautiful, and heartbreaking. You’re going to love them and I can’t wait to see these books shine!

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Failing Forward

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Processing no’s and setbacks are part of a writer’s life.

I don’t know of any writer, no matter how successful, that hasn’t had to process no’s.

I don’t know of any writer, even NYT Bestsellers, who even after achieving success hasn’t had to process no’s.

The life of a creative means a life of accepting subjectivity and not allowing it to pierce your resolve.

I was talking to my husband about this very thing (though not about writing) and was sharing that it’s hard to not let no’s feel like mini-failures. That each time I miss the mark, it feels like I just failed terribly and in conclusion, am a failure.

But he said something tonight that struck a chord. He said, “Then you just fail forward.”

Failing forward… I like that.

Because isn’t that what failures do? They mold us and shape us. We learn from them what not to do and what to do better. Failures thicken our spine and deepen our resolve.

Each failure. Each no. Each closing of the door is an alignment. 

“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time but it is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing. […] It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” – J.K. Rowling

Failure is inevitable, but as you feel yourself falling towards that failure, shift forward.

That way when you hit the ground, you do so in a roll where you can pop back up and continue sprinting toward your goal.

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To Our Future #PitchWars Mentee

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Tomorrow is the OFFICIAL opening of #PitchWars!

I remember the feeling I had in 2014 when I was on the mentee side of things. I was so beyond pessimistic about getting in, but I figured, “Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? They say no?” I had been querying for about 2 months at that point and was learning ALL about rejection.

I had two mentors out of four request materials from me and both only requested the first 50 pages. I was absolutely sure I wasn’t going to be selected, but then BAM! I was in.

It was my first big win, but even then I don’t think I fully realized what an incredible opportunity it was. Not because I was going to get in front of agents—I had already been getting a good amount of requests querying the traditional way. But what I got out of #PitchWars was community. It was one-on-one mentorship that taught this newbie writer SOOO much about the craft.

I’m giddy thinking about finding Lynnette and I’s mentee this year! I can’t wait for he/she to experience what it feels like to take a manuscript to the next level, to find incredible writing friends who are at the EXACT same stage in the journey as you, and to be a part of the incredibly supportive #PitchWars community.

So to our future mentee… I CAN’T WAIT TO MEET YOU!!!!!!

We’re going to have fun—we’re definitely going to work hard—but we’re going to have fun doing it!

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Talk to you soon!

#PitchWars Mentor Bio (and Scavenger Hunt Letter!)

Well hello all you fantastic writers visiting my little corner of the internet!

I’m excited to be involved with #PitchWars this year and am beyond-belief excited that Lynnette and I get to work with one of you!

I was an alternate in 2014 (way back yonder when they had mentees and alternates) and ended up finding my incredibly amazing literary agent, Kirsten Carleton, after she requested at the agent showcase.

So, let’s get down to it…

Why should you pick me as your mentor?

Well, aside from the obvious hilarious comments in the margins of your MS (I personally think I’m super funny), I am an agented writer who knows what it’s like to write and revise a book and get it ready for editors. Another plus is I’m a professional writer in my day job, focusing mainly on digital marketing. That particular skill gives me an eye to scrape away fluff and restructure writing in a way that makes your message clear so the impact is felt. Lastly, I was an intern for two different literary agencies and so I feel I have a good handle on the YA market, what’s selling, what agents are looking for, and what type of query is going to hook agent interest.

For more about me and Lynnette, you can CLICK HERE for our Mini-Interview on Brenda’s site.

You can also read my SETTING Critique on Brenda’s site.

As far as my editing strengths, I love line editing! I’ll be working with you on a line by line level as we smooth out sentence structure, dialogue tags, tense, etc. We’ll work on making sure your POV is deep enough on a sentence level and eliminating “crutch” words.  Although Lynnette is going to be working with you on the big picture revisions, I’ll be here to lend my voice and help in whatever way I can!

Finally, I’ve been in your shoes. I know what it’s like to read an edit letter for the first time and wonder how in the WORLD you’re ever going to accomplish everything. I know what it’s like to re-write a book, cut characters, shave off thousands of words, deepen characters, deepen your setting… you name it, I’ve been through it in my own personal writing.

As you’ve read on Lynnette’s blog, we’re looking for a mentee who is open to working hard and going deep. We are committed to matching you stride for stride, so you put in the work and we’ll put in the work. We’re #TeamDominate and that’s just what we’re planning to do, DOMINATE #PITCHWARS! As your mentors, we are here for you now, but also after #PitchWars because believe you me, Publishing is a crazy beast and we want to be there with you every step of the way.

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Since you’ve hopped over to my blog from Lynnette’s, you already know what we’re looking for in a YA manuscript. So I’ll end this by giving you the next letter for the Scavenger Hunt!

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We can’t wait to hear from you!