Pitch Wars 2020 Wishlist

Hello, Pitch Wars Hopefuls!

I’m thrilled to be a mentor this year. Finally, I get the chance to pay it forward after participating in the program as a mentee in 2017. For those of you interested in submitting to me, I encourage you to carefully read through this Wishlist. Keep in mind I’m mentoring contemporary Young Adult fiction. I will accept contemporary New Adult submissions, but only under the condition that the mentee is willing to lower the age category to Young Adult during revisions.

What is Pitch Wars?

A mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and request to read more. If you are not agented, have a completed manuscript, and may be interested in participating, check out pitchwars.org for more information.

My Pitch Wars experience

I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2017. My awesome mentor Lizzy Dent (The Summer Job, 2021) worked with me to improve my manuscript and prepare for the Agent Showcase. Through the experience, I learned how to extensively revise a novel in a short period of time and it led to me signing with a literary agent a few months later. My debut Where the Rhythm Takes You, a young adult contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion will be published by Blazer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins in May 2021.

What will the mentorship / revision process be like?

When it comes to my own revisions, I’m not afraid to dig in. I hope to find a mentee that is just as open to revising. If you seek a heavy-handed approach, I’m not the mentor for you. Compliment sandwiches are my method of choice for feedback.

After I read my chosen mentee’s manuscript, I will send them an edit letter with details about what I liked about the story and the elements that I believe can be improved. Once they’ve had a chance to process the feedback, we will have a discussion (through email, skype, etc.) where we figure out a plan for revision. After they complete the new draft, I will have another read of the manuscript, adding tracked comments to highlight any areas I think need another round of quick edits before the Agent Showcase.

Throughout the process, I would encourage my mentee to feel free to contact me with questions and concerns. I hope to be as available as possible within the limits of my own writing deadlines. Email, Twitter DMs, and Skype are my primary form of communication.

At the end of the day, it is my mentee’s manuscript and I will defer to their vision for the book. However, I do hope for a mentee with an open mind, who understands feedback is not personal. Someone who is willing to get down to work.

Now on to the Wishlist!

What I’m looking for…

Contemporary young adult fiction. Basically, that’s it! To give you a better idea of my tastes though, I’m including a few of my favorite sub-genres, tropes, and books. If your manuscript falls into any of the categories in this section, or if it’s similar to any of the titles listed, send them to me!

1: Romantic Comedies

Funny, sweet love stories. Clever banter is appreciated. Happy endings are a must.

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

2: Contemporary Romance

I’m alright with a slow burn. Bring on the angst. Make me swoon. I also love it when there’s a feeling of fate/inevitability/something larger than the characters at work.

  • You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn
  • The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

3: Contemporary with speculative elements

Stories with a dash of science fiction, fantasy, or horror.

  • Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
  • The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

4: Contemporary with mystery elements

Mysteries where there is more focus on the characters than the plot. They can have a speculative twist.

  • Trouble Is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly
  • Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
  • Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

5: Contemporary Retellings

Classics, myths, folklore, and fairy tales retold in a modern-day setting.

  • Pride by Ibi Zoboi
  • Geekerella by Ashley Poston

6: Extra elements I appreciate

  • Diversity
  • Own voices
  • Caribbean voices!
  • Marginalized experiences
  • Humor
  • Stories about artists or people who are really passionate about their work/hobby
  • Found families
  • Tight friend groups
  • Female friendships

What I’m NOT looking for…

I enjoy reading some of the genres mentioned below, but I do not think I would be the right mentor for them. (CW WARNING: This may contain triggering themes)

  • Anything not YA (With the exception of New Adult where the mentee is willing to lower the age category to YA in revisions)
  • High fantasy
  • Hard Science Fiction / Space Opera / Dystopian / Post-apocalyptic
  • Horror
  • Historical fiction
  • Westerns
  • Action/Adventure
  • Thrillers/Suspense
  • Supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, etc.)
  • Plots centered around sports
  • Novels-in-verse
  • On-page sexual or physical abuse
  • On-page sexual assault
  • On-page self-harm
  • Suicide
  • Animal abuse
  • Gore/Body horror
  • Manuscripts longer than 100k words

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my Wishlist. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message on twitter (@sarahdassauthor).

Pitch Wars 2020 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Aiden Thomas (Accepts NA)
  2. Sarvenaz Tash (Accepts NA)
  3. Chloe Gong and Tashie Bhuiyan
  4. Abigail Johnson
  5. Kit Frick and Carlyn Greenwald
  6. Sonora Reyes (Accepts NA)
  7. Laurie Dennison
  8. J.Elle and Emily Golden
  9. Andrea Contos (Accepts NA)
  10. Emily Thiede (Accepts NA)
  11. Amanda Panitch
  12. Allison Saft and Ava Reid (Accepts NA)
  13. Emery Lee (Accepts NA)
  14. Carrie S. Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
  15. Shannon A. Thompson and Sandra Proudman (Accepts NA)
  16. Adiba Jaigirdar and Gabriela Martins
  17. Michaela Greer (Accepts NA)
  18. Tash McAdam
  19. ST Sterlings (Accepts NA)
  20. Maiya Ibrahim and Ayana Gray (Accepts NA)
  21. Meg Long and Xiran Jay Zhao (Accepts NA)
  22. Margie Fuston
  23. Jamie Howard
  24. Nova McBee
  25. Amelia Diane Coombs and Sophie Gonzales (Accepts NA)
  26. Rachel Griffin
  27. Susan Lee and Auriane Desombre (Accepts NA)
  28. Ciannon Smart
  29. Sasha Peyton Smith and Kristin Lambert
  30. Lane Clarke (Accepts NA)
  31. Lyndsay Ely (Accepts NA)
  32. Anna Sortino (Accepts NA)
  33. Jennieke Cohen
  34. Bethany Mangle (Accepts NA)
  35. Sunya Mara (Accepts NA)
  36. Kat Dunn and Daphne Lao Tonge
  37. Sheena Boekweg and Alechia Dow (Accepts NA)
  38. Liz Lawson and Dante Medema (Accepts NA)
  39. Sarah Dass (Accepts NA)
  40. Zach Hines (Accepts NA)
  41. Hoda Agharazi (Accepts NA)
  42. Dawn Ius and April Snellings (Accepts NA)
  43. Kara McDowell and Kimberly Gabriel
  44. Kylie Schachte (Accepts NA)
  45. Deborah Falaye
  46. Rona Wang (Accepts NA)
  47. Becca Mix and Grace Li (Accepts NA)
  48. Aty S. Behsam (Accepts NA)

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors’ Wish Lists

Sarah Dass