Welcome Potential 2020 Mentees!
If you’re here, you’ve already take the first step. You’ve taken the plunge into Pitch Wars, an event designed to mentor upcoming authors as you work to prepare a pitch, query a book, and sign with an agent. I know it’s all very daunting and overwhelming, but by being here, you’re choosing to invest in your writing, your book, and yourself, to seek guidance from agented/published authors and industry professionals, and spend three months reworking your book for the agent showcase in February.
If you need a moment to take a break, you’re welcome to do so here. If not, let’s get right into it!
My name is Emery (pronouns e/em/eir), and I’m the author of MEET CUTE DIARY, a trans romcom forthcoming from HarperCollins (May 4th, 2021). I’ve been a writer since I was eight, I’ve been in the book community since 2015, and I’ve written 12 novels, countless short stories, and several scripts across genres and age demographics (though I’m only seeking Young Adult for PitchWars!). Beyond writing, I worked as a trade book reviewer for two years, interned with two literary magazines, and got a degree in English (with a specialization in creative writing).
Now that all the boring stuff is out of the way, let’s get to the stuff you care about.
Why Work With Me?
Let me start by saying, I can’t tell you because I don’t know you. Every mentor will have a different style and every mentee will have different needs, so if what I do isn’t your cup of tea (buhdumtssssss), that’s totally fine! But I do want to give you a little rundown of how I do things, so you can choose for yourself if we vibe.
I’m a firm believer that every book is trying to be something. My number one rule when approaching edits or advice is to always acknowledge what the book is trying to be, not what I may want from it. If you’re trying to tell a story about a dragon with pneumonia opening up a pizzeria, it’s not my job to tell you the story might be better if it was written from a walrus’s perspective. I want to work with you to identify exactly what your goals are, both for your story and your long-term career, and help you achieve those in a way you can be proud of, not in a way that matches my own experiences.
I’m also a firm believer that the most valuable thing you’ll find in publishing are friends. This industry is cutthroat, and everyone will say, “It’s a business. It’s nothing personal”, but at the end of the day, we’re all people, and that means we can’t just distance ourselves from everything we do, especially in an industry that controls our livelihood and a craft that we put so much of our heart into. I want to help you build, not just those craft skills, but that knowledge of how to navigate the industry, to brace yourself for the hardships, and that emotional support that’ll help you survive the upcoming querying process (because that process really is killer).
That being said, I won’t lie to spare your feelings. If I think your book would benefit from a ground up rewrite, that’s exactly what I’ll tell you. I believe in open communications and not shying away from what needs to be addressed. If you dislike a critique I give, tell me why. Let’s work out where the disconnect is happening. Once we’re working together, I can meet you however you like (text, dms, video chats, phone calls, etc.) and since I’m almost always on my phone, I’m usually a quick responder. I also expect that you’ll commit yourself as much as possible to doing what’s best for your book (otherwise, why would you be here?)
And while I can be a hardass, I’m also a lover of fun and chaos. I’ll likely send you outlandish memes that remind me of your book, potentially draw corny fan art, or send you playlists and aesthetics. I’m a big fan of finding new and creative ways to look at stories, crossing genres, inspirations, etc. At the end of the day, I think one of the hardest yet most important things to do as a writer is find a balance between the work of writing and the joyful play that makes us want to write, and I am fully committed to helping you do just that.
So if I seem like the kind of chaotic that works for you, here’s what works for me.
If your story fits all of these elements, I’m happy to hear from you! (If it doesn’t fit one of these, we’re not a match at this time.)
- I’m looking for YA (any kind of Scifi/Fantasy/Contemporary/Horror/Romance or some derivative of these preferred) or New Adult (where the character is 19 or younger or can be aged down to 19 in the above genres)
- I’m especially eager to read stories that challenge oppressive defaults and feature authentically diverse characters and perspectives.
My Cup of Tea
If you fit all of the above criteria, feel free to submit to me, but if you want to know exactly what I love seeing in a project, any of the below will likely pique my interest.
- Character-driven stories
- Enemies to lovers (or any variation of friends/rivals/lovers, enemies to friends, etc. tropes)
- Ownvoices stories (especially QPoC stories that don’t center oppression or marginalization-specific trauma)
- Stories that incorporate music into some broader plot
- Contemporary stories with soft magical elements (ie magical realism or fabulism) or quiet SFF books (ie THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE)
- Unreliable narrators, unconventional main characters, or large casts
- Forced proximity trope
- Demons (nice demons, himbo demons, killer demons, all the demons)/The Fair Folk
- Assholes with a heart of gold (really deep down)
- Books that incorporate graphic narrative elements (or graphic novels)
- Short novels (60-75k)
These are things that just aren’t right for my palette. If your story fits into any of these categories, I think you’ll do much better with a different mentor, so please don’t submit to me.
- Rape stories (characters who have been raped are fine, but if rape is a large part of the narrative or is described in detail on-page, I’m not a good fit for this)
- Stories based entirely around marginalized oppression
- Slavery narratives (or slavery-allegory narratives)
- Any story that vilifies any marginalized identity (race, gender, mental illness, etc.)
- Any story that ends with a magical cure
- Grimdark books/books where all or most of the characters die
- White character learns to not be racist narratives
- Novels in verse
- “Girl-Power” Narratives – Don’t get me wrong, I love books with awesome female casts/characters, but I just don’t do the traditional “girl power” narrative with “strong female characters” combatting the evils of masculinity in a binarist world. (I *do* enjoy stories with general feminist themes or Magical Girl stories though)
- Covid stories (stories involving “a plague” are fine, but I only want stories that feel distinctly different than the current pandemic)
- Anything with detailed, on-page sex (fade to black or sex scenes where the genitalia of the characters aren’t described is fine)
The Perfect Toppings
None of these things are required to make me enjoy a book, but these are a couple of super-specific bonuses that really make a story sweet for me. If you have any of these, I’d love to see your query!
- A core ship like Kiribaku from My Hero Academia (sunshine himbo meets asshole with a soft spot for sunshine himbos)
- An ownvoices anime-inspired story featuring Japanese characters
- Any story that could use a Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas song as an opening/closing theme
- The “person who was trained to be a weapon and feels unlovable finds love” trope or the “character who was always great at everything learns they’re actually just mediocre and goes through a crisis to become better” trope
- A story that takes place in and authentically portrays Florida (especially Miami)
- I have a bit of a “tea” brand going on, so if you have a story that incorporates tea in a cool or fun way, I’d love to see it!
- If metalcore/post-hardcore/electronicore/or pop-punk are integral to your story.
- Allusion to the musical “Spring Awakening”
If you can comp your story to any (or multiple) of the following, I’d love to hear from you!
- More Happy Than Not
- The Rest of Us Just Live Here
- Don’t Date Rosa Santos
- Cemetery Boys
- The Devouring Gray
- Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
- The Prince And the Dressmaker
- Yuri on Ice
- My Hero Academia
- Hunter x Hunter
- Bungou Stray Dogs
- Blue Exorcist
- One Day at a Time
- The Magicians (TV Series)
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at Emery.L.PitchWars(at)gmail(dot)com
Pitch Wars 2020 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists
- Aiden Thomas (Accepts NA)
- Sarvenaz Tash (Accepts NA)
- Chloe Gong and Tashie Bhuiyan
- Abigail Johnson
- Kit Frick and Carlyn Greenwald
- Sonora Reyes (Accepts NA)
- Laurie Dennison
- J.Elle and Emily Golden
- Andrea Contos (Accepts NA)
- Emily Thiede (Accepts NA)
- Amanda Panitch
- Allison Saft and Ava Reid (Accepts NA)
- Emery Lee (Accepts NA)
- Carrie S. Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
- Shannon A. Thompson and Sandra Proudman (Accepts NA)
- Adiba Jaigirdar and Gabriela Martins
- Michaela Greer (Accepts NA)
- Tash McAdam
- ST Sterlings (Accepts NA)
- Maiya Ibrahim and Ayana Gray (Accepts NA)
- Meg Long and Xiran Jay Zhao (Accepts NA)
- Margie Fuston
- Jamie Howard
- Nova McBee
- Amelia Diane Coombs and Sophie Gonzales (Accepts NA)
- Rachel Griffin
- Susan Lee and Auriane Desombre (Accepts NA)
- Ciannon Smart
- Sasha Peyton Smith and Kristin Lambert
- Lane Clarke (Accepts NA)
- Lyndsay Ely (Accepts NA)
- Anna Sortino (Accepts NA)
- Jennieke Cohen
- Bethany Mangle (Accepts NA)
- Sunya Mara (Accepts NA)
- Kat Dunn and Daphne Lao Tonge
- Sheena Boekweg and Alechia Dow (Accepts NA)
- Liz Lawson and Dante Medema (Accepts NA)
- Sarah Dass (Accepts NA)
- Zach Hines (Accepts NA)
- Hoda Agharazi (Accepts NA)
- Dawn Ius and April Snellings (Accepts NA)
- Kara McDowell and Kimberly Gabriel
- Kylie Schachte (Accepts NA)
- Deborah Falaye
- Rona Wang (Accepts NA)
- Becca Mix and Grace Li (Accepts NA)
- Aty S. Behsam (Accepts NA)