Hey guys! There was a spontaneous Q&A session with some of the mentors for #pitchwars (if you don’t know about it, find it here) I recorded all the questions and their answers here for easier viewing! There’s some good stuff. (Any other mentors that would like to throw in some answers just let me know, I can add to it)
Also, I’m also doing a couple mentor interviews here. I’ll start posting them shortly after the 26th when the official mentor post goes up, so keep a look out.
How can authors stand out from among the masses (aka slush) for you?
Strong voice and clever dialogue!
Strong voice in the first few pages!
Strong voice in the first few pages!
Awesome hook. Great voice & pacing. Something that sucks me and and makes me want to keep turning the page.
@Tina_Moss Great question. Short, snappy query and MS with strong voice, interesting characters and compelling story.
Me too. Short, short, short for query. Quick pitches are great practice.
What is your strength as a mentor?
I've got lots of experience at critiquing MS via writing communities & Betas. Interning gives me industry insights.
I'm killer at attention-grabbing queries. I'm also great at hooky pitches and spotting WIP areas that are weak.
1) I'm a tough critic BUT I ALWAYS find a way to fix w.e. the issue is. 2) I enjoy query editing--and I'm good at it
I'm a tough critic, but provide ideas for fixing the issues. I also can write a killer pitch in <140char
big picture. I'm really really good at big picture--why something works, why it doesn't, and if it's too similar to something out
I'm not bad at editing, but big picture is my strong suit. Why a scene doesn't work and how to fix it.
To the ya mentors- what really catches your eye in a query?
Non-generic descriptions. Get specific, give me details. Generic phrases are such a turn off. Include the why.
I agree--BUT if you have a complicated plot--simplify. Give us the juicy bits.
Plot that challenges MC on emotional level as well as outward level. Leave me asking "How'll they pull it off?"
I'm sick--I actually like editing queries--I need a first line that hooks me otherwise I'm bored right away.
Topic jump! What qualities do you admire most in other writers? Especially when giving feedback on their work.
Voice, voice, voice. Hardest to master, and almost impossible to teach. If a writer has it, I'm won over.
I agree-- I ADORE an amazing voice. Male or female 16 or 22. Give me a gr8 voice n I'll follow the character
Taking criticism and turning it into something amazing, that neither had envisions when reading the original.
Willingness to delete sections of work and try again. Shows objectivity and willingness to try new things.
strictly by age of MC (YA<18, NA 18-25, Adult>25)?
For the most part those age cut-offs are pretty good, but sometimes there are exceptions (like always).
Age of protagonist matters, most important is subject matter. Adult issues = adult book. YA issues = YA book, etc.
Would you be forgiving about some things that need work for a sub with potential?
Yes, of course. Raw talent and potential always shines through, regardless of occasional pitfalls.
If you have a great concept, great writing, &/or great voice, we'll work on what needs strengthening
Absolutely. I've worked with writers at all levels and enjoy it very much. Polish MS, but don't stress
If you have all three (and it's MG), I'll hurt someone to mentor you.
Yes. I'd hope it wasn't a first draft, but if it had potential and I really like it? Of course.
I think that's what we're here for. If you're willing to put in some work, so are we.
Yes, I'd be forgiving, but I'm a tough critiquer, so I'm not for the faint of heart. I'm doing MG not Kid Gloves
Any tips on writing killer pitches?
Focus on main problem/consequence. "Must steal artifact before 1st of Jan otherwise world ends."
Fill in the blanks: When X happens MC must Y or Z will happen.
This is great format. I'd add, consider unique point about your character or plot.
Give us a taste of your book, especially the voice. Show us the stakes - this is 1 of the most important things
Remember your query isn't about summarizing your story. It's about hooking the agent/editor to want to read more.
Read back cover copy. Does it make you want to read the book? If yes, use THAT as example for your query.
Last query note: K.I.S.S. = Keep it short and snappy!