2016 Pitch Wars wishlist:
Hey guys! So for Pitch Wars this year, I’ll be looking for an awesome Young Adult (YA) manuscript to mentor. I’ll get to the wishlist in a second, but first of all, here’s a little bit about me and what to expect if I choose you as a mentee.
I’m a freelance editor and an Assistant Editor at Entangled Publishing. I’m also a YA/MG writer myself, and love to hide sneaky fandom references (Doctor Who! Pacific Rim! Sherlock!) in my quirky speculative fiction stories. I live in the rural Midwest with my husband, the most adorable three-year-old on the planet, and a border collie named after a character from Avatar: The Last Airbender. You can follow me (and ask questions about my wishlist; though no pre-pitching, please!) on Twitter at @NaomiLHughes.
Why You Should Pick Me:
-Because I am awesome and you are also awesome, therefore we should join forces and be awesome together so we can TAKE OVER THE WORLD (shhh, don’t tell Brenda).
-Because I work with books as my full-time job. I’m passionate about stories and I love putting all their puzzles pieces together in new ways to figure out how to take them to the next level. Between my three years as a freelance editor and my two years at Entangled, I’ve worked on books that are now published by Big Five houses, books that were named BEA honorees, and books that received 100% positive Kirkus reviews. If you’re curious, you can see what my freelance clients have said about working with me over on my testimonial page.
What You Can Expect If I Choose You as Mentee:
My goal is for your Pitch Wars experience with me to serve as practice for your future relationship with your real-life editor after you get a book deal. I’ll give you deadlines (we’ll work together to figure out which dates work best), professional-toned (but excited and friendly!) email correspondence, and publishing industry guidance. Although I’m always here if you’re having a true revision crisis, I won’t be holding your hand for every nit-pick; I’ll give you editorial suggestions and you’ll decide how to execute them. Because of this, I’m probably the best match for a mentee who does well with a more hands-off, structured type of partnership.
As for the actual work we’ll do together, you can expect one round of developmental edits, which typically means a 5-10 page edit letter and 100-300 in-manuscript comments, and then I’ll help you polish up your query-and-pages entry for the agent round.
My 2016 Pitch Wars Wishlist:
I want a YA story that has one or more of these elements:
- Speculative fiction. I love fantasy, sci-fi, magical realism, thrillers with a cool science-y twist, etc. BUT there’s an exception: paranormal and supernatural stories generally aren’t my thing (more on that below in my “do not want” section).
- Strong voice. It can be funny (I love funny!), lyrical, or smooth and subtle, as long as it’s an awesome, unique voice that makes your character come to life. This element is possibly the most important for me—if I love the voice I’ll read pretty much anything.
- Romance. It’s totally fine if this is just a subplot, or even if it’s a subplot for a minor character, but I almost always need some romance.
- Strong writing. I want to see great writing and a good grip of craft that’s evident at the sentence level of your story. This does not mean every sentence has to be perfect, or you wouldn’t need me! But I do love to see insightful narrators, prose that's evocative while still being efficient, and beautiful sentences with exactly the right words that evoke exactly the right feelings. For an example of this type of writing, read The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski.
Bonus points for any of the following! These are not required—all I *need* to fall in love is just at least one of the above elements—but these are other things I find myself drawn to, so if your story has one or more of these in addition to meeting my main wishlist above, I’d definitely like to see it!
-Bromance. Bring on the strong guy friendships (or frenemy-ships, or bromances gone wrong)! If you’ve got anything like a Spock/Kirk, Sherlock/Watson, or Captain America/Bucky pairing, gimme.
-Complex villain with a strong motivation and goal of his/her own. I particularly love the funny and awesome (Loki!) or those who struggle with a redemption arc (Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender!).
-Christian YA. I’d be interested in seeing YA that deals with Christian themes in unique, authentic ways, particularly stories that feature wonderfully three-dimensional characters who already have a strong but realistic grip on a mature faith, and who are out there Doing Cool Things with other teens. I’m open to any sub-genre with this: contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. Note: your story does not need to fit in a traditional “inspirational YA” box. I’d love to see a manuscript that weaves subtly awesome, complicated, matter-of-fact Christian themes into a story for the general YA market. I’d also love a funny main character with this.
Favorite Books and Movies (if you use any of these as comps, gimme!):
Doctor Who, Star Trek (the new movies), The Flash, Chuck, Pushing Daisies, Disney movies (The Lion King, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, and Zootopia are my favorites), Avatar: The Last Airbender, most Marvel superhero movies (but not a lot of DC stuff; Batman is too grimdark/broody), The Proposal, This Means War, The Winner’s Curse trilogy, any of the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, Starflight by Melissa Landers, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (a bit dark for me, but gorgeous), The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner.
Things I DO NOT WANT:
-Horror. Total weenie here. Nope nope nope.
-Anything with overwhelming dark or tragic themes. No rape, serial killers, cannibals, demons, ghosts, evil zombies (fun zombies might be fine), or little kids and/or main characters who end up dying. Pyrrhic endings (stories that end with a costly victory that isn’t quite a happily-ever-after) are okay in most cases.
-Stories that underestimate or talk down to teens. Now I know most of you guys won’t even need this stated, but teens are smart. They’re real. There have as many varieties of personality as adults. I’m not interested in anything that stereotypes them (ie, stories where every teen character is sarcastic and broody) or treats them as lesser.
-Love triangles. There are some exceptions here—if it’s hilarious and has a bonus bromance like This Means War, for example—but in general, I dislike love triangles and all the angst that typically accompanies them.
-Paranormal or Supernatural. I’m not the best match for any manuscript with witches, were-creatures, vampires, or demons (and I’m on the fence about fairies). The market is starting to kinda-sorta tiptoe back into being okay with these genres, but I’m still burned out on them unless they have some kind of incredibly fresh and unique twist.
That’s it! I can’t wait to see the awesomeness I know you guys are going to send me. Good luck, and don’t forget to check out the other fabulous mentors below (but don’t forget I’m totally your first choice!).
Scavenger Hunt Letter: A
Naomi Edits | Naomi L. Hughes