I’m thrilled to return as a mentor in Pitch Wars 2016, and delighted to be co-mentoring with my 2016 mentee, Michael Mammay. He’s taken the initiative and written our mentor bio/wishlist for this year. Read on!
Koboldt/Mammay Pitch Wars Wishlist
Hi. Michael here. On behalf of Dan and myself, thanks for considering us as potential mentors for Pitch Wars. We will be mentoring the adult category, and accepting submissions in Science Fiction and Fantasy. If that sounds like you, read on for more information. I’ll offer some thoughts on what we are more and less interested in, but at the end of the day, if it goes on the Adult SFF shelf, we’ll take a look.
Dan is the author of three books with Harper Voyager: The Rogue Retrieval (January 2016), The Island Deception (February 2017), and The World Awakening (February 2018). This is his third year mentoring Pitch Wars; both of his past mentees have landed literary agents. He’s also the founder of #SFFpit, and hosts a long-running blog series Science in Sci-fi, Fact in Fantasy. He has an excellent grasp of platform and the SFF market. He is represented by Paul Stevens of Donald Maass Literary. By day, he’s a genetics researcher.
I (Michael) participated as a contestant in Pitch Wars the last two years (I got in this past year) and write SF/F, usually with military themes. My strength is as an editor and critique partner. I have extensive experience doing critique for both published and unpublished authors in multiple genres. I’m represented by Lisa Rodgers of JABberwocky Literary.
Basically you’re getting two for the price of one. We will work as a team to help you take your book and your career to the next level. Dan was my mentor this past year, and we decided to combine our talents this year. We enjoy the same books, are critique partners, and we both recognize and appreciate the strengths of the other. If you’re worried about two mentors giving conflicting opinions and overwhelming you, don’t. We will speak with one voice, and discuss our feedback with each other so that we’re presenting you with unified advice.
What you should expect
We will do selections together. If we select you, you’ll get a developmental edit letter from me, and I’ll work with you on structure, pace, and plot. Once you revise, I’ll do line edits with you, to polish your book into agent shape. Once we’ve revised, Dan will provide another read with final feedback. During the process, as you have time, Dan will work with you on the querying process, synopsis, and building/improving your platform.
What we want for submissions
Remember what I said up front. We’ll look at any SF or F. Everything I say from this point to refine that is to help narrow down what we’re more likely to pick. There are certain sub-genres where you’d really have to write something that grabs us before we’d take it on. The further you are outside our wishlist, the better you’re going to have to be. We are looking for a certain level of writing, and that will be as important, if not more important than the premise. We can only do so much in two months, so we need to start from a pretty decent place.
More than anything, we’ll be looking for something special in your work. Something that jumps out, whether it’s voice, pace, super dialogue, exceptional tension, or whatever. We want to see that one thing that makes your stuff stand out. We want to see that one thing we’re going to build on to make your book something special.
This is simple. Send it all. This should be a really easy decision for you. We may not be the best mentor for your adult SF, but we’re almost certainly in the top four. We’re not big fans of SF/Horror, and if you write near-future dystopian, it will have to be something unique and interesting. But send it all.
Definitely more complicated here. We’re both big fans of epic fantasy in all of its permutations. We’re good with grimdark, but if you kill all your characters, that’s going to be a tough sell for us. While we’d be okay with certain urban fantasy, it’s going to be a very small subset (and if you look at the other mentors, we definitely shouldn’t be your top choice there). We’re not a good fit for vampires, werewolves, or fae, as neither of us have read canon and couldn’t properly advise you. If you write in multiple POVs, each POV needs to have its own voice and that character needs to be the main character in his or her own arc. We can handle unlikeable characters, as long as they interest us. If they just exist to be an ass, that’s probably not going to work for us.
Word count. With a debut SF, you’re helping yourself if your book is between 75K and 100K. For Fantasy we’d like to see it between 80K and 120K. The further outside of those counts you are, the more an entry is going to have to blow us away. Also, if you’re outside those norms, we’ll want to know that you’d be very amenable to us moving toward them in editing. So while we’ll look at your 160K word epic fantasy, it’s going to have to be something really special for us to select it.
Diversity. We are 100% open to diverse authors and characters. If you are writing from a perspective outside of your own, we’re likely to insist on sensitivity readers.
I need to say this somewhere. If you’re looking to submit to Pitch Wars, have someone tell you that your book is great, fix a few commas and get ready for the agent round, you’ve probably got the wrong guys. We don’t work that way. We both work hard, and want to choose someone who will do the same. If your structure needs work, we’ll work on it. If you need more tension, we’re going to cut and add and move things and do whatever it takes to get your book where you want it to be. Obviously all changes are yours, and you make the final call. But if you’re not going to at least consider changes, then why waste your time or ours?
Frequently Asked Questions
You are some of the only male mentors in the adult category. Does that mean you’re going to pick a guy? No. Dan’s selection in 2014 was a woman, and both Dan’s and my primary CPs are women. We’ll pick the best book that we think we can help.
What about fantasy romance? What shelf do you see it on? If it has romantic elements, but you see it on the SFF shelf, then we’ll take a look. Who’s your dream publisher? If you’re thinking Tor, then we’re probably good. With that said, I do CP Colleen Halverson’s Aisling Chronicles (and I love it) so I’m pretty comfortable on the romantic side of the fantasy genre.
Are you open to thrillers? Probably not. Neither of us have read in the genre much lately, and don’t want to put you at a disadvantage. But if you’re desperate for a fourth mentor pick, throw us on there and if we don’t find a great SF/F, we might consider it.
What’s your best advice for entrants? Participate. Join the community of writers. Keep an open mind and be willing to learn. Listen. There are a lot of talented people involved in this endeavor, both as mentors and as entrants. You can learn things from all of them.
Our Scavenger Hunt letter is R.
Pro tip: If you want some inside info during #PitchWars, you should join Dan’s mailing list for fellow writers.
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