agenting · Meet An Author · querying

QueryManger and Queries

When I joined D4EO agency it gave me the opportunity to very excitedly switch over to QueryManger instead of using an email inbox. QueryManager will be known as Qm from now on and no that lack of space in the middle of the name is not a typo. The software is named QueryManager and if you don’t believe me check their website. Qm is how the logo shows up when I use the software. I’ve been with several agencies between interning, assisting, and agenting and I’ve seen many different query inbox systems. Qm is by far my favorite. However I get a lot of confused messages from authors about Qm, and so I’m going to discuss how I use Qm as an agent and clear up some confusion, including the fact that no, you can’t add indents to your query since it uses block formatting. The amount of messages I received about that when I first switched over to Qm surprised me.

What I love most about Qm is how organized it is. And since it has all my queries and requests, it keeps everything in one place instead of getting requests lost beneath dozens of other emails. Qm also hides my email and uses it’s own to send from, which cuts down on submission emails to my agency email and keeps my amount of emails under control. I think it’s important to note Qm is not designed to be messaging back and forth with authors, something I learned from experience. It’s set up to make it easy to reject or request and once we know we want to offer it’s assumed we will switch to email, which is what I do. Unfortunately that also makes it hard to respond to questions from authors so please just follow the submission guidelines and if you have questions about representation save it for when/if I offer since we will have a chat when I offer. If I have questions I will shoot you an email. Continue reading “QueryManger and Queries”

Interview · Meet An Author

Meet an Author: Lindsey Frydman

Lindsey was a proud 2016 Pitch Wars Mentee and thoroughly adores being a part of the wonderful writing community. Lindsey writes about heart-stopping romance, rule-breaking heroes, and everyday magic. THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS is her debut novel. Lindsey is represented by Naomi Davis of Inklings Literary Agency.

Your book HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS is your debut novel. In the book Audra walks in the footsteps of Emily who died too young. I feel like a lot of us wind up knowing someone who died too young. Did any personal experiences inspire the story?

Actually, no. There was no personal experience that inspired the story, though I have known a few who’ve sadly died too young. The story was actually inspired by a news article about a fifty-something-year-old woman who received a twenty-one-year-old’s heart after she died in a car wreck. Afterwards, the older woman set out to complete the young girl’s bucket list so at least her heart could experience all the things she’d wanted to do. Continue reading “Meet an Author: Lindsey Frydman”

Interview · Meet An Author

Meet an Author: Dawn Ius

Meet Pitch Wars mentor Dawn Ius, a short-story author, novelist, screenwriter, professional editor, and communications specialist. She is co-founder and senior editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Assistant Managing Editor of the International Thriller Writers’ e-zine, The Big Thrill, and the author of ten educational graphic novels published by the Alberta Canola Producers Commission.

Dawn also writes young adult thriller and paranormal fiction under the last name DALTON. Her short story, THREAD OF THE PAST was included in the SPIRITED anthology (Leap Books, 2012), and her novel, KILLER’S INSTINCT (Leap Books, 2013), co-written with Judith Graves, was nominated for the Silver Falchion award. As well, her short story DRUNK was published in an Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired anthology, FALLING FOR ALICE, April 2015, by Vine Leaves Press.

When she’s not slaying fictional monsters, she’s geeking out over fairy tales, Jack Bauer, Halloween, sports cars, and all things that go bump in the night. Dawn lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, Jeff, and their giant English Mastiff, Roarke.

 DawnYour latest book, OVERDRIVE, is a young adult novel about pulling off a big car heist. Are you very knowledgeable about cars or did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

When I was 16, my stepfather had a ’69 Camaro that I desperately wanted drive—but it was a standard. The deal was, if I took my driver’s test on a stick shift, he’d let me behind the wheel. So, I did—and the day after I got my license, he had to sell the car. I only drove it once, but it was enough to give me an appreciation (obsession?) for old sports / muscle cars. I AM the girl that drags her friends to car shows, or drools over the ’67 Mustang at the end of our street. I’m also the girl who isn’t afraid to shout out the window “nice car!” when something catches my eye—which might be somewhat embarrassing for my husband.

Writing OVERDRIVE was truly a labor of love—a combination of all my favorite things. But…I realized fairly quickly that I didn’t know everything (especially how to hotwire a car) and so I did extensive and very specific research about each of the cars in the book. And, I had an amazing copy editor who also loves cars, and caught some important things I’d missed. I feel fairly confident that a muscle car expert wouldn’t challenge too much of what I wrote.

Are you a big fan of car shows and movies like The Fast & The Furious?

Oh yes. I’m usually first in line at the theatre for those movies. But I also love Drive, Gone in 60 Seconds, and all of the Oceans 11 films (I love a great heist!) When I was young, my favorite show was Knight Rider—if I ever own a Trans Am (ha) I’d totally name it Kitt. Currently, I have a 2009 RX-8, named Anne after “my” Anne Boleyn in Anne & Henry.

You also write educational graphic novels. What’s the biggest challenge in writing a graphic novel compared to novels?

Toning down the description! I work with a very understanding illustrator, who doesn’t get offended when I give him a script with way too much text. I sometimes forget that he’s allowed to (and should!) interpret a scene or character without me shoving my vision down his throat. After 16 books, we’re now great at compromise, and I actually love handing him a script and seeing how he translates it into art. (He’s incredibly talented.) It’s surprising how in sync we are sometimes.

Let’s talk about your contemporary young adult book Anne and Henry. I love historical fiction and books about the Tudors. What inspired you to place the love affair between King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in a modern high school?

My stepdad (again) was a huge Anne Boleyn fan, to the point where my mom was a little jealous. So, I grew up hearing about Anne, and became fascinated by her relationship with King Henry. But so many stories have been written about the Tudors that I couldn’t think of an original angle—except to make it contemporary…in a U.S. high school.

It was a tricky book to write, but I had so much fun with it. I’m going back to history with my third book. LIZZIE (out April 10, 2018 from Simon Pulse) is a contemporary YA retelling of the Lizzie Borden hatchet murders. I really enjoy weaving historic facts into a modern setting, and I’m excited to see how this book is received—it’s still such a talked about mystery!

With all the different genres and age groups you write in, do you ever have trouble switching between them?

Yes. And no. There are certainly days I am more in the “mood” to write one genre or age category over the other, such as after writing a few chapters of LIZZIE, needing to shift gears into something “lighter.” But if I’m on deadline, I’m pretty good at wiping the slate clean and getting into the zone of whichever project needs my attention.

As a professional editor, what made you decide you wanted to get involved in Pitch Wars?

I’ve been really lucky to have a number of great mentors in my writing career. Bestselling authors who have taken time to guide me, give me pep talks in times of writerly doubt, and provide emotional support at every stage of my publishing journey. I know how hard it can be out there—and I want to help, the way I was helped. Pitch Wars is an incredible contest that gives me a great outlet in which to do that. Last year, I was blessed with an amazing mentee—Kimberley Gabriel is not only talented, but one of the hardest working and most generous people I know. I couldn’t be prouder of her, and I’m honored to have been part of her journey so far. Working with her was one of the most rewarding experiences of my writing life. (Also, her book is brilliant!)

Do you have a specific method for picking your mentee and sorting through your Pitch Wars submissions?

I really pay attention to the first five pages. It doesn’t need to be perfect (I rewrote the first chapter of Anne & Henry about a dozen times before it even got to my editor) but I’m looking for a voice that grabs me, a cliffhanger ending that begs me to turn the page, and professionalism. A few typos, grammar glitches, etc. aren’t cause for concern, but I want—at least for Pitch Wars—to work with writers who understand the basics of craft. (Bonus points if they’ve read Stephen King’s memoir, ON WRITING.)

Have any advice to Pitch Wars mentee hopefuls on tackling revisions?

Breathe. Editorial notes can be daunting, especially when they’re attached to a deadline. Once you go through the suggestions, you can start to create a plan—the overarching issues to address, the gaps to fill, the sections to delete, the character development to flush out, etc. As soon as you have a plan, you can go through the manuscript methodically and without (as much) emotion.

Revisions are actually my favorite part of the process. I turn in some embarrassingly rough drafts, but through revision, the book really starts to come alive, and there is no more magical feeling. But to get there…you have to breathe. If I can help my mentee do even that, it’s a skill that will help them through the publishing trenches.

Want to know more about Dawn? Visit her website.

OverdriveGone in Sixty Seconds meets Heist Society in this edgy novel about a crack team of teenage criminals on a mission to learn to trust, build a life, and steal a wish list of exotic cars.

Jules Parish has screwed up.

After three years of boosting cars, she got caught. She’s too good to get caught, but she let her (ex)-boyfriend talk her into a questionable job. And now she and her little sister, Emma, will be kicked out of their foster home, left to survive on the unforgiving streets of Las Vegas alone.


Eccentric, wealthy Roger Montgomery wants to open up his mansion to Jules and Emma. The only catch? Jules must steal seven of the rarest, most valuable muscle cars in the world…in seven weeks. Even worse, she’s forced to put her trust in three complete strangers to help her do it.

First there’s Chelsea, the gorgeous redhead with a sharp tongue and love for picking locks. Then there’s Mat, who hasn’t met a system he couldn’t hack. And finally there’s the impossibly sexy car thief Nick, whose bad attitude and mysterious past drive Jules crazy.

With nothing in common and everything to lose, can Jules and her amateur crew pull off what could be the biggest car heist in history? Or will things spin out of control faster than a Nevada dust devil?

You can find it on Amazon

Interview · Meet An Author

Meet an Author: Michael Mammay

Meet Michael Mammay, science fiction author and Pitch Wars mentor alongside Dan Koboldt. He is represented by Lisa Rodgers of JABberwocky Literary Agency. His book PLANETSIDE is coming summer of 2018 from Harper Voyager

Michael Mammay

Your book PLANETSIDE is coming out summer of 2018 and is about an officer being pulled out of near-retirement to investigate the disappearance of a High Councillor’s son at the active war front on a distant planet. Not only do you write about soldiers, but you’re former a soldier yourself. Do you ever find your soldier characters to be more similar to you than you intended? And do you use many of your own experiences as a soldier as inspiration for your writing?

This is an incredibly complicated question, and I will write a few thousand words about it someday. The short answer is that I apply a lot of experiences in general, but not too many that are specific. The military atmosphere, what it feels like to be in certain combat situations…those are based on experience. But as far as specific experiences, those are pretty limited. It’s more a feel I’m trying to convey. When I am writing about soldiers in combat, I’m trying to put the reader there. Hopefully some of that comes across.

In PLANETSIDE will we get to see any cool new war tech?

As far as sci-fi goes, I’m pretty low tech. I try to bring more of a modern feel to it because of my experience. But absolutely I’m throwing in some things I see in the future of warfare. It’s certainly not a re-definition of the way we fight. More like taking what we’ve got and turning the amp up to eleven.

Care to tell us a fun fact about the distant planet in your novel?

The planet is Cappa, and the area in the war zone is kind of loosely based off of a combination of the Nevada/California desert and the high plains of Colorado. There’s no particular reason for that other than I thought it would be a cool place to stage a war. Silver is a key element in the economy of my galaxy, and Cappa has lots of it.

You recently became an English teacher. Did your love of writing help inspire that career path? Do you think your experiences in the classroom might someday influence your future writing?

Honestly if I didn’t write, I’m not sure I would have got the job. I don’t have an English degree or any particular qualifications that make me special. It’s a military school, so certainly my educational and service background helped. Will it affect my writing? Who knows, right? The ideas come from wherever they come from. I don’t plan for it to be a key element in my future books, but who knows how it will change me?

The first time you entered Pitch Wars you didn’t get in, but you persevered and got in the next year in Pitch Wars 2015. You often tell people not getting in was more important than getting in. Why is that?

Yeah, I entered in 2014 and I didn’t get in. I didn’t even come close. I discovered the online writing community on July 24th, 2014. I had a novel that I’d just started querying…I’d never shared it with any other writers. I didn’t know that was a thing. Hint: Don’t do this. Somehow I stumbled over Pitch Wars and it seemed great, so I joined Twitter and started figuring it out. Brenda Drake was my first Twitter follower. Seriously, you can look it up on my account. There was like one day until the submission deadline and I skimmed the mentor blogs and picked four people. One of them was Rebecca Yarros, who was mentoring YA that year and is a romance writer. I literally picked her because she wrote about military people (in her romances) and was married to a soldier. Again…and I can’t stress this enough…don’t do that.

As we were waiting for mentors to pick their mentees, I started to meet people. That year Michelle Hauck and Mary Ann Marlowe created a forum where you could post your query and your first 250 words (Almost exactly like the new Pitch Wars Forum) and I got involved there. I put my page up and an author named Janet Wrenn critiqued my first 250 words. Thirty seconds after I saw that critique I knew I wasn’t getting into Pitch Wars. I had SO much to learn. So I set out to learn it. I traded chapters with everybody who would trade—like eight to ten people. I found three critique partners who are still with me today: Colleen Halverson, Red Levine, and Rebecca Enzor. If I didn’t meet them, I wouldn’t be here. It’s that simple. I spent a few months learning and in November of 2014 I wrote the first chapter of what would become Planetside.

What piece of advice do you wish someone had told you before your first Pitch Wars?

Truth? I’m glad nobody told me anything. Because if I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have entered, and things would have worked out differently. But if I was giving one piece of advice to people on the fence now it would be this: Get involved. I know it’s hard to put yourself out there, but that’s how you grow as a writer. It’s scary and it’s nerve-wracking and you want to puke, but push through and do it. Talk to that mentor on twitter. Swap that chapter with another potential mentee. You never know what could happen. Take every opportunity you can find. There’s one universal truth about this business, and that’s this: Everybody’s path is different, and nobody knows what your path looks like. All we know is that if you’re not where you want to be on that path, you have to take another step.

As a mentee, which one was more nerve-wracking: getting your first edit letter from Dan or experiencing the agent round?

You ask the best questions, because they’re hard. Truth? Neither was very difficult for me. (Yes, it’s acceptable to hate me for that.) Here’s why: Before I got Dan’s edit letter, I’d had one from my critique partner Colleen Halverson. Dan has been very, very helpful to me in my developing career. But he’s not nearly as terrifying as getting an edit from Colleen. She’s a badass, and she and I tear each other’s stuff apart. You know that axiom where when you’re doing a critique and you say two good things for every bad thing? Yeah…we don’t do that with each other. We call each other on our BS, and it’s pretty no nonsense. It’s also incredibly effective for both of us, and we wouldn’t change it. Dan’s edits were really useful, but I’d gone through harder stuff before that.

As far as the agent round, in 2015 as an adult SF writer, there weren’t a lot of agents participating who were looking for what I wrote. Dan was really up front about that with me, so I knew what to expect and had prepared for it. I was hoping to get one request, and I got exactly one. But Dan had helped me develop a query strategy, and it all worked out because I ended up with Lisa Rodgers at JABberwocky, and she is the perfect agent for me.

You mentored for the first time in Pitch Wars 2016 alongside Dan Koboldt. After being a mentee the previous year under Dan, what surprised you the most about being a mentor?

The most surprising thing was how hard it was. As it turns out, I’m super bad at choosing between manuscripts. We got about 140 submissions, and if it was up to me I’d have picked about 15 of them. Why? Because I could help them. I could see what they needed and they were pretty close and I could work with the mentee to make them better. And if it was up to me, I’d probably still be paralyzed, looking at those same 15 manuscripts and wanting to work with all of them. Of course that’s impossible. This is one reason why a co-mentorship fits me really well. Dan and I both bring different things to the table. False modesty set aside, I’m a really good editor. And I love editing. And I want to edit everything. I probably critiqued a dozen books last year, most of them just because I enjoy it so much. Dan can edit too, but he’s also extremely well versed in the business of writing and the SF/F world as a whole, and he’s much more level headed when it comes to that. It’s a perfect partnership. Some have called it a #dreamteam. Just sayin. And I joke about that, but when you get Dan and I, you really do get a team. You get us, but you also get all the people we know. And we know a lot of people. We’re going to help you from the start of your revisions right through marketing as your book releases.

Finally, you’ve claimed to be useful in a zombie apocalypse. So if a zombie apocalypse broke out, what’s the first thing you’d do? Do you already have a full plan of action decided just in case, you know, an unexpected zombie epidemic breaks out?

Well the first rule of being prepared for a zombie apocalypse is to not talk about your preparations for the zombie apocalypse. Because it’s coming. I’ll say this. It’s all about location. And knowing how to make explosives. Or beer. See? Now I’ve said too much.

Want to know more about Michael? Visit his author website and goodreads page.


Interview · Meet An Author · Writing

Meet an Author: Ian Barnes

Meet fantasy writer and Pitch Wars alum Ian Barnes. Ian was a mentee in 2016 under his mentor J. C. Nelson.

Ian Barnes


You were a 2016 Pitch Wars mentee. How did you prepare for Pitch Wars?

– Wrote a book. I wish I had some grand, insightful answer to this question, but nah, that’s pretty much it.

I’d entered in 2015 with a book that was all kinds of a mess. No requests, but I connected with other hopefuls on the hashtag and Facebook groups. They helped me see why it was a mess, and how to fix it. I ultimately scrapped it in favor of writing something completely new with the goal of having it ready to enter into Pitch Wars the following year. I put what I’d learned into practice, and here we are. Continue reading “Meet an Author: Ian Barnes”

Interview · Meet An Author

Meet an Author: Meghan Scott Molin

Meet author and past Pitch Wars mentee Meghan Molin. Meghan is a writer, photographer, toddler wrangler, equestrian, singer of songs, lover of food, and corgi cult member. She is represented by Joanna MacKenzie at the Nelson Literary Agency.

Meghan Molin

Tell us about the manuscript you entered into Pitch Wars 2016, DRAG NET.

DRAG NET was a plot bunny that happened while I was *supposed* to be revising another project. I just couldn’t stop thinking about my main character, MG, and her geek-tastic story just sort of wrote itself. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book… it’s got kissing, costumes, comic-cons, capes, Drag-Queens, and comic books all wrapped up in a caper! It was a *blast* to write. Continue reading “Meet an Author: Meghan Scott Molin”

Interview · Meet An Author

Meet an Author: Kit Frick

Meet author and Pitch Wars mentor Kit Frick. Kit Frick is a novelist, poet, and MacDowell Colony fellow. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, she studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA from Syracuse University. When she isn’t putting complicated characters in impossible situations, Kit edits poetry and literary fiction for a small press, edits for private clients, and mentors emerging writers through Pitch Wars. Her debut young adult novel is See All the Stars (Simon & Schuster / Margaret K. McElderry Books, summer 2018), and her debut full-length poetry collection is A Small Rising Up in the Lungs (New American Press, fall 2018). Find her online at and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest @kitfrick.

KitFrickPortrait34_Credit Carly Gaebe Steadfast Studio

Your book SEE ALL THE STARS is releasing summer of 2018. In it your character Ellory finds that the past is everywhere, including in the present. Is that a life lesson you ever had to learn yourself?

I think the desire to “leave the past behind” is something we’ve all experienced at one time or another—and found much easier said than done. In See All the Stars, Ellory struggles to come to terms with her guilt over the role she played in a painful and ultimately irreversible chain of events that tore her group of friends apart. For Ellory, moving on isn’t about forgetting—it’s about finally facing the truth.

I’ve certainly had experiences where I’d rather “just forget” something unpleasant and move on, but the past has a funny way of thwarting those intentions. As with Ellory, the desire to leave the past in the past is often rooted in an emotional or psychological un-readiness to face difficult truths that may be hiding there, and take ownership over the way in which past experiences have affected us on a deeply personal level.

In college, I was affected more than I was willing to admit at the time by an experience of near-sexual-assault. I told myself I was lucky—I had managed to deescalate the situation and get away from my assailant. But I then proceeded to lock the experience away emotionally, telling myself it was “no big deal” because I’d gotten away. Two years later, he cropped up again in an entirely unexpected way, and I was forced to actually deal emotionally with what had happened. I don’t know if this is so much a life lesson as it is a facet of being human—if he hadn’t emerged again in my life, something else would have triggered that delayed recovery process. The past has a way of reminding us of our demons, and compelling us to face them.

Was there any specific inspiration for the plot of SEE ALL THE STARS or the characters?

See All the Stars emerged from the ashes of two real-life relationships: the break-up with a boyfriend during my adolescence, and the even more devastating break-up with a close female friend in early adulthood. I wanted to write a character who loses several important relationships in one fell swoop and must come to grips with both her own culpability in what went wrong, and with the necessity to make peace with the past and move forward in the aftermath.

You are originally from Pittsburgh, PA (go Pittsburgh!) Now you live in Brooklyn, New York. Is there anything you miss about Pittsburgh?

Yes! After seventeen years in New York, I’m still a Pittsburgh girl at heart. Fortunately, my parents still live there, and my husband and cats and I travel home several times a year to see them and my beloved hometown. Some of my favorite Pittsburgh landmarks and traditions are: our championship hockey team (go Pens!), Light Up Night, the Eat ’n Park diner by my house, the aviary, the Mexican War Streets, the incline, Mr. Rogers, the Heinz plant…I could keep going. Black and yellow!

You wrote a blog post about leaving behind the day job to pursue writing and editing full-time. It’s a post that anyone considering doing so should read. What inspired you to finally take the step of leaving your administration job for a different day job that let you write more?

That was a fun post to write because it marked my one-year anniversary as a self-employed writer and editor. I think the desire to create a life that allows for more writing time is a very common one among writers, so I was happy to share my experience and some advice.

The greatest hurdle for me was leaning into the uncertainty: no amount of planning could guarantee that when I finally left my full-time job in academic administration, everything was going to work out. I’m a planner, and a fairly anxious person, so there was a point at which I had to say to myself, “I’ve planned as much as I can possibly plan. There’s a certain amount of risk involved here, and that’s not going to change. If this doesn’t work out, I can find another day job. I just have to dive in.”

In the past year, I’ve revised my debut and drafted two new books. I’ve also built up my editorial practice, Copper Lantern Studio, and work with a great group of private clients. I’m looking forward to the year ahead!

While in college you interned at Simon & Schuster. How do you think that helped shape your editing career?

My internship at Simon & Schuster was actually my second publishing internship; I first interned at The Overlook Press, an independent publisher in Manhattan. Both of these internships taught me a great deal about how book publishing works as an industry—how publishing houses function as businesses, what the various departments do and how they work together, the role of literary agents, etc. It wasn’t until I transitioned into a full-time editorial assistant position at S&S that I really dipped my toes into editing. I worked under a fantastic book editor, Leslie Meredith, and learned a ton about cultivating good author relationships, developmental editing, and line editing from her. As an intern, I had learned a lot about acquisitions. I read submissions; I wrote reports; I drafted rejection letters. Working with Leslie was really my first exposure to an editor’s role in the publishing process beyond acquisitions—and there’s so much beyond acquiring books for publication!

While my own path as an editor diverged fairly quickly from the major NYC publishing houses, I took a lot away from those early internship and job experiences that I’ve applied to my work as a small press editor at Black Lawrence, my work with private editorial clients, and as a Pitch Wars mentor! Importantly, I learned a lot about the publishing industry, which is wisdom that I’m now happy to have as an author myself, and that I can now pass on to clients and mentees with whom I work.

Would you suggest internships to others considering going into editing?

Internships certainly aren’t the only path to jobs in book publishing, but they remain a very common way in the door. The landscape has changed somewhat since I was an intern in the early 2000s. For one thing, at least some publishing internships are now paid, which was very uncommon when I was an intern. For another, virtual internships are now fairly widely available, especially at literary agencies, which provides increasing access to internships to non-New Yorkers. That said, internships still pose real financial challenges for many, and they’re not the only way to get into the business.

I’ll also say that one should not expect an editorial internship to teach you how to edit. Expect exposure to the inner-workings of the industry, expect to meet people and make connections, and expect to develop office skills. But don’t expect the Senior Editor or even Assistant Editor for whom you’re interning to sit down and teach you how to edit a manuscript. I think combining internship experience with classes in editing is probably an ideal path for those who can do both.

In 2015 you entered to Pitch Wars with Rachel as one of your chosen mentors. You didn’t get in, but found great connections among the community. Any advice to mentee hopefuls who might be scared to reach out to others in the writing community?

Don’t be scaaaared! We’re a friendly lot, and while Twitter can be a legitimately scary place, it’s also a great place to be for emerging and querying writers. There are fantastic, supportive hashtags like #OnThePorch and of course #PitchWars where writers hang out and support one another. When I was first considering entering Pitch Wars in 2015, I saw a lot of chatter on the hashtag about “the community,” but I wasn’t really sure what that meant. Like, was I actually going to make friends through this contest? How? Turns out, all it took was dipping my virtual toe into conversations on the Pitch Wars hashtag; people actually wanted to talk to me! I met writers who are now in my 2018 debut group for YA and MG authors, the Electric Eighteens. I met writers who are now publisher and agency siblings. I met writers who are now fellow Pitch Wars mentors. It didn’t take some heroic feat of “reaching out.” Think of it instead as simply joining the conversation.

Last year you mentored on a team alongside Rachel Solomon. How did you come to be a mentor alongside Rachel? Did anything about mentoring surprise you? Is anything about it different than the editing you do on a day-to-day basis as an editor?

I loved mentoring with Rachel! I submitted to her in 2015, and while she didn’t pick me as her mentee, we became friendly, and found ourselves querying at the same time (Rachel for her second agent; me for my first) soon after the contest. We bonded in the query trenches, and when I signed with my agent, Erin Harris, the following March, Rachel invited me to co-mentor with her in the next Pitch Wars. This year I’m flying solo because I knew I wanted to focus my wish list on a couple of specific YA genres, but you can be sure Rachel and I will still be comparing notes throughout the contest! We mentors are a close bunch.

In terms of the process of mentoring, I approach it in very much the same way I approach my editorial work with clients. The big difference is that I work on such a variety of manuscripts with clients with a variety of different needs and editorial goals in mind. In Pitch Wars, my editorial process starts with an editorial letter, which provides global (big-picture) feedback on my mentee’s manuscript. Then we do a second round of fine-tuning edits, and of course work on the query letter as well. What surprised me most about mentoring wasn’t really a surprise—it was an affirmation of how many super-talented writers with super-amazing projects are out there. And how fiercely competitive the book publishing industry really is. That’s why I make the commitment to work with my mentees beyond the contest itself. The agent round is a fantastic way to get exposure, and mentees do get scooped up by excellent agents through the agent round, but for many mentees, the agent round is just the beginning of the query process, and I’m there for my mentees for emotional support and guidance beyond the contest. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On your blog for Pitch Wars 2016 you gave the mentees the great advice of not rushing to enter as soon as the submission window opened and to take their time. What are some of the best benefits of not rushing to sub?

Fewer mistakes! Seriously, I say this every year, and I’ll probably recycle that blog post again this year right before the sub window opens. It’s a window for a reason—mentors read Every. Single. Submission. It’s not a race. Take your time and make sure your materials are polished, you’re submitting to the list of mentors you planned to submit to, and your submission form is error-free. This contest is challenging enough to get into; give yourself a leg up by taking your time and getting your entry pitch-perfect! And good luck!

Visit Kit’s website to learn more. Want to know more about her upcoming book SEE ALL THE STARS? Visit the goodreads page here.

THEN They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. (Venus. Earth. Moon. Sun.) Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

NOW Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

THEN Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

NOW Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the ones Ellory’s been telling herself.