Guess What?! We're mentoring Pitch Wars this year! *Dancing*
Pitch Wars mentors Tobie Easton and Jennieke Cohen
TOBIE: I am SO excited because Pitch Wars played a big role in helping me reach my dream of publication, and now, I get to do what I can to help someone else. That’s something that really means a lot to me.
In Pitch Wars 2014, I was mentored by the fantastic Skylar Dorset on my manuscript Emerge, about mermaids who live secretly on land (more info here). Today, I’m agented and published in a three-book deal, and both Emerge and its sequel Submerge are on shelves as the first two books in the Mer Chronicles series!
From first draft to final draft. It’s so surreal that I still can’t believe it:
JENNIEKE: I am so ridiculously excited to be mentoring this year with Tobie! Tobie chose my manuscript, Dangerous Alliance, to mentor in Pitch Wars 2016, and I seriously can’t express how happy I am that she did because we’re now agency sisters, co-mentors, and good friends!
Without Pitch Wars and all of Tobie’s help, I don’t think I’d be able to say that Dangerous Alliance will be an actual book-shaped object published by HarperCollins around this time next year!
I can’t wait to help someone else achieve their dreams as Tobie helped me!
Together, we’re #TeamCookieDough in Pitch Wars 2018!
We can’t wait to help you bake your manuscript to a delicious golden brown that agents will love!
OKAY, ARE YOU READY? HERE'S OUR PITCH WARS WISHLIST:
(We’re only mentoring YA this year, so if your MS is YA, we just might be the team for you. If it’s MG, NA, or Adult, mosey on over to one of the other amazing Pitch Wars mentors.)
Fantasy, especially Contemporary Fantasy/Urban Fantasy. Tobie has spent the last four years writing all about mermaids, so she is ALL about fantasy. As a team, we’re especially drawn to fantasy that has some kind of root in the real world, like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Stardust. For otherworld fantasies, we enjoy books with detailed, thought-provoking world-building, like Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Kathy MacMillan’s Sword and Verse.
Historical. We can’t begin to tell you how much we LOVE historical fiction. It’s a deep and longstanding passion for both of us. Jennieke’s book is a historical set in Georgian England and she’s a self-professed Anglophile, so please send us all the UK set historicals! Do you have a YA version of Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series or Jennifer Donnelly’s Tea Rose series? We want it. We also love small corners of history that not many non-historians know about, so if your book covers new ground in YA in a Western or non-Western setting, we want to see it, too! As a general guideline, we’re interested in pretty much anything set pre-1970 (and into the ‘80s and ‘90s, although some don’t consider that historical quite yet). Our tastes tend to skew toward the commercial rather than the literary. As much as we love historical fiction, we’re not the biggest fans of war-centric books (for instance World War I and World War II stories aren’t the best fit for us, but between the World Wars is A-okay).
Historical Fantasy. Um…duh. See above ;) Is anyone else in love with Jessica Spotswood’s Born Wicked? No spoilers—Tobie hasn’t read the rest of the series yet! Got a fresh YA take on Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or Susan Carroll’s The Dark Queen series? Then send it to us, m’kay?
Fairytale Retellings and Tie-ins. If you have anything fairytale-related, we are SO the mentors for you. Tobie’s book tells the story of the Little Mermaid’s descendants, and as readers, we can’t get enough of creative new twists on fairytales. We both really enjoyed Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball, Princess of Glass, and Princess of the Silver Woods. Recently, Jennieke found Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel and Garden Princess to be really cute and a lot fun. Tobie loved Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst.
Mysteries/thrillers. If you have something twisty and clever like One of Us is Lying or a YA version of a Wilkie Collins novel, we’re excited to see it—extra points to unique settings or gothic elements. And while we don’t exactly know what a YA cozy mystery would look like, we’d love to see one in our inbox!
Romance. Romance. Romance. Seriously, guys! Look at any of the YA books we’ve mentioned above and you’ll notice they all have one thing in common. That’s because we LOVE a swoony, heart-pounding romance. As writers, getting our characters together is what keeps us writing. And as readers, romance is usually the thing that keeps us turning pages. Any level of steaminess is fine with us, so if your book has a strong romantic element, *grabby hands*!
Contemporary. We like contemporaries that let us peek into a world, society, culture, or way of life we wouldn’t otherwise see. For instance, a YA novel version of the television show Make it or Break It or the movie Saved! would be right up our alley. However, if your contemporary is light on plot or if it’s something you’d consider an issue book, it’s probably not right for us. Jennieke did love Far From the Tree, though, so if your book covers an issue in a positive and uplifting way, we’ll happily consider it.
Light Sci-Fi. We’d love a YA version of Michael Crichton’s Timeline or the movie TiMER, and Tobie REALLY enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.
Adventure. Do you have a YA version of Romancing the Stone or Zorro or The Three Musketeers? If so, we are blinking SO many heart eyes right now!
Paranormal Romance. Don’t let anyone tell you paranormal is over! It will never be over. We may just need to brainstorm how to brand it creatively in your query ;) Send us your witches, your fae, your vampires, your succubi, your sexy demons and corruptible angels. Please DO NOT send us mermaids (explained below). Also, zombies aren’t our favorite, so please keep that in mind.
We have soft spots for:
-Cocky, intelligent men
-Sensitive, well-spoken guys
-Detailed world-building in any genre
-Settings that feel like characters
-Magical systems that make perfect, satisfying sense
-Anything with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer feel for Tobie or a Lucifer feel for Jennieke. We cannot stress this enough!
-Anything like Clueless, The Craft, Cruel Intentions, Dangerous Liaisons, Veronica Mars, Downton Abbey, Lady Jane, Tangled, Enchanted, Bridget Jones’s Diary, or Outlander. For more on Tobie’s favorite movies, here’s an interview. For more on Jennieke’s favorites, check out her website FAQ’s
-Anything with a Jane Austen or Oscar Wilde air
-Anything about fanfiction or fan culture
-Fresh Shakespeare and classic literature reimaginings
-Multiethnic, biracial, and Jewish main characters
-Beautiful gardens and/or gowns
Things that aren't the best fit for us:
-MG, NA, or Adult (We’re only mentoring YA this year)
-Novels in verse
-Quieter or more literary novels
-Issue books or books written to teach a clear, moral lesson
-Books with very sad endings
-Christian inspirational or books with a strong religious theme
-Anything with mermaids. Guys! If you have a mermaid MS, come say hi to Tobie on Twitter, but PLEASE don’t submit to us for Pitch Wars. Tobie is still working on her own mermaid series and will not be reading anything else mermaid-related until she’s finished. Thanks for understanding!
-Anything with a lot of gore.
-Anything set in a hospital or with sickness as a key component of the story.
-Anything where suicide is a key component of the story.
-Anything with abuse or rape described on the page.
Why you should pick us:
First and foremost, we don’t see Pitch Wars as something that only lasts for the next few months. If you’re our mentee (provided we work well together, you’re professional, and we fall in love with your MS), we’d love to help you as much as we can moving forward. That help won’t end when this contest does.
TOBIE: My Pitch Wars mentor, Skylar Dorset, and my almost-mentor, Lori Goldstein (who told me she loved my submission but was torn between a few and knew Skylar wanted mine) gave me so much industry advice, rooted for me, blurbed my book when it came out, and became my first author friends. Those are the sort of relationships Pitch Wars can foster :)
JENNIEKE: As my mentor, Tobie helped me through Pitch Wars, through the query process, through the stress of getting interest from a small publisher and having to inform the agents who had the manuscript, and through making an agent decision. She was even there for moral support while I was waiting for news from the acquisitions meeting at HarperCollins! I’m so very happy that Pitch Wars brought us together and that we’re now good friends and CP’s!
So we definitely see the mentor-mentee relationship as something that can be more long-term, if that’s something we all want.
We kind of rock at queries and would love to help you through that harrowing stage. But we can also fill you in on what happens AFTER you have an agent and even a publishing deal (that’s where the online info begins to dwindle). With two books currently out, Tobie has spent a great deal of time touring to promote her series and has met authors at all stages of their careers whom she’s learned so much from. We’re also really interested in the business side of the industry and Jennieke spent a year as a literary agent’s assistant, so on everything from agent-author and editor-author relationships to marketing and publicity, we’re all about sharing all the knowledge we’ve gained so far with our mentee!
In terms of craft, Tobie was a writing instructor for seven years and ran book clubs for teens, so both big picture edits and nitty-gritty grammar are specialties. Besides working as an agent’s assistant where she did everything from writing pitch letters to helping clients ready manuscripts for submission, Jennieke has a master’s degree in professional writing from U.S.C., has worked as an editorial intern for Prima Games, and has worked as a writing consultant to Silicon Valley tech companies. All together, we’ll get your YA manuscript to shine! We’ll also personalize the editing process to your MS’s needs. We’re very positive people, so we’ll tell you what we absolutely LOVE about your MS—but we won’t sugarcoat what we think needs work, so please be ready for our honest feedback. In addition to looking at your overall story, we’re VERY detail-oriented, so we’ll help catch ALL THE THINGS and figure them out with you in a way that’s authentic to your voice and your story.
Aside from your edit letter(s), we usually find phone conversations and instant messaging to be better ways to communicate because then we can brainstorm together, rather than us sending a long email, you agonizing over it for days and then not feeling better about it until we talk again. Whenever possible, we want to spare you those days of stress! Plus it’s great practice for a future day when you’ll have similar conversations with your agent and editor!
We care a lot about natural-sounding dialogue, consistent voice, and logical plotting that’s believable to the world you’ve set up, so we’re excited to work on those with you.
If you’ve been reading through this post nodding and smiling and getting progressively more excited, then we hope you’ll submit to us. We’re so honored to consider your work!
Don't forget to check out Tobie's site here where you can get more info about her and her amazing books!
You can also click here to see the rest of the Mentor Blog Hop:)