From June 27th through July 18th, we’ll be posting mini-interviews with most of the Pitch Wars mentors so you can get to know them. Many of the mentors also hang out on twitter. Follow the links to their Twitter accounts and say hello. They’ll be on the #PitchWars hashtag tweeting advice and answering questions.
We will also host live chats from July 19th through August 2nd, and the Pitch Wars submission window will open on August 3rd!
We asked our mentors to answer these three questions …
- What are you looking for in a submission and what would you forgive as far as issues in the sample pages? In other words, what do you feel is an easy fix and what would be a pass for you?
- What is your editing style and do you have a game plan to tackle edits with your mentee in the two months given for the contest?
- And lastly, what is your all-time favorite book and how did it inspire your writing?
And here are their answers …
Naomi Hughes is an assistant editor at Entangled Publishing, and she also offers freelance editing services at naomiedits.com. She’s served as a mentor/judge in many writing contests over the past few years. She’s also a writer herself–if you wat to find out more about her quirky young adult and middle-grade stories, you can check out her author page at naomihughes.net.
ONE: First and foremost, I want to find an author with a strong voice! I’d also love to see a great “hook”–some sort of grabby, interesting twist for the story that makes it feel fresh and unique–and three-dimensional characters with their own motives and goals. I’d also prefer a mentee who’s pretty good with writing craft already. I can brainstorm meh plots and rebuild weak conflicts and strengthen flat character arcs all day, but teaching telling vs. showing and the importance of scene-level conflicts would likely take more time than we’d have before the agent round.
TWO: My editing style is more professional than BFF; my goal is for Pitch Wars to be valuable practice for how you would interact with your real-life editor after you get your book deal. I’m very laid-back and easy to work with, but I’m going to give you more critique and editorial direction and deadlines and not as much hand-holding. 🙂 That being said, I’m always more than happy to give you general publishing industry advice and answer questions!
My game plan isn’t set in stone yet, but it’ll likely involve one full round of developmental edits–which for me usually means a 5-10 page edit letter and around 150 in-manuscript comments, so gird your loins! 🙂 Plus, of course, I’ll help polish your query-and-pages entry for the agent round.
THREE: I’m going to cheat and give you my two favorite series of all time: The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (breathtaking romance! Gorgeous prose! Amazeballs clever heroine!) and The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner (awesome characterization and the BEST plot twists!). Both of these writers have inspired me to tighten my prose and work hard to create unique, unexpected characters.
Nikki is a professional journalist and marketer with more than a decade of published writing experience. She is also a young adult author represented by Suzie Townsend of the New Leaf Literary Agency. Before writing novels, she was a seven-time award winning playwright with her short pieces performed around the country, including The Kennedy Center in D.C.
ONE: I’m looking for contemporary, sci-fi, light fantasy, or thriller YA that is full of laughs and emotion. When I read, I need to feel like I’m dying to be friends with the characters. The funnier the better, as long as the humor is backed by substance.
I’d forgive starting in the wrong place and too much backstory in the first pages. That’s an easy fix.
But if you submit something to me with typos and a severe lack of voice, I’ll assume the rest of the pages are like this and will pass. PROOFREAD!
TWO: I like to tailor my editing to the person and manuscript I’m working with, but generally we’ll start with an edit letter with big picture changes followed by a line edit (I like to work in two phases depending on the condition of the manuscript). I also love LOTS of communication. So, if you’re wanting a mentor who will Skype or phone chat with you and email regularly, I’m your girl. (Though, please note that due to the new baby, most phone calls/Skyping sessions would be in the evening EST. Some could be earlier, but you may have to chat with Thea as well lol).
THREE: THE PRINCESS BRIDE by William Goldman…it’s funny and heartfelt and full of adventure. And the best part? It was so convincing, people actually believed that Florin was a real place and tried to book vacations at the Fire Swamp. Nothing says pure genius like a book that can do that.
Phil Stamper is a YA writer and freelance editor who lives in Brooklyn, NY. He works in publishing development for a large publishing house you’ve probably heard of. You can find him on Twitter, where he exclusively talks about food, Brooklyn, and sometimes books.
ONE: I’m looking for strong writing and creative openings. A lot can be fixed, but it has to grab my attention. A generic setting, premise, or main character will be a pass for me.
TWO: I treat my mentees like I do my editorial clients. Depending on how much work is needed, we’ll start with one pass of developmental edits, where mentees will fix “bigger” problems, moving chapters/characters around, rewriting parts. The second pass will be a line edit, where we’ll make the manuscript as strong as possible for the agent round.
THREE: This answer changes a lot, and I’m never able to really pick one book. That said, my favorite book of late was THE SERPENT KING. The writing was brilliant, and the story was incredibly realistic. It was easy to fall in love with the characters and want them to succeed, even with all the obstacles they came across. It’s inspired me to be more honest with my writing. To write the stories I know and feel passionate about, and to really hone my author voice.
Pintip Dunn graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL.
Pintip writes both YA sci fi and YA contemporary thriller. She is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. Her debut novel, FORGET TOMORROW, is a finalist in the Best First Book category of RWA’s RITA® contest. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Washington Romance Writers, Maryland Romance Writers, and YARWA.
She lives with her husband and children in Maryland.
ONE: I am looking for compelling manuscripts with high stakes and emotionally charged characters and situations. A nice, flowing voice is a plus. I can forgive minor structural mistakes — e.g. starting the novel in the wrong place, not ending chapters with hooks, overall pacing. These are things that can be fixed, and that’s what I’m here for. I don’t care about a few typos, but of course, a clean manuscript is a sign of your professionalism.
What would be a pass for me? No or little conflict. Unlikable characters. Dense or tedious prose. Clunky writing.
TWO: I like to give big-picture edits first. In my opinion, there’s no point fiddling with language until we’re happy with the overall story arc. Plus, I think this is where a writer makes or breaks a story. I could — and do — give line edits, but I don’t like to interfere with a writer’s voice. Just because I would’ve worded it differently doesn’t mean that you should. So, the bulk of our two months will be focused on making the *story* shine as much as possible.
THREE: My all-time favorite book is The Hunger Games. Before I read that novel, I skipped around from genre to genre. I wrote a chick lit, a contemporary adult romance, a literary family saga. When I read THG, however, something clicked inside me. I had found my home in the young adult genre. Since then, I’ve written six YA novels — both science fiction and contemporary thriller — and haven’t looked back once.
Thank you, mentors, for your marvelous answers. We appreciate you so much!
Pitch Wars Schedule:
June 27-July 15 Mentor Mini Interviews
July 19-August 2 Live Chats with Mentors
July 20-August 3 Mentor Blog Hop
August 3rd Pitch Wars Submission Window Opens
August 25th Mentees Chosen and Announced