My name is Dan Koboldt, and I’m a mentor for Brenda Drake’s #PitchWars contest. Thanks for stopping by to check out my bio!
I’m a genetics researcher at one of three NIH-funded large scale DNA sequencing centers in the U.S. My group studies the genetic basis of rare diseases, like retinitis pigmentosa, and common diseases like heart disease and cancer. If you want a taste of what that work is like, read today’s post on MassGenomics. I’m married, have three kids (a daughter and twin boys), and obviously, I don’t sleep much! I’m also a bowhunter, which is something you learned if you watched the PitchWars Mentor video.
I write what I read: science fiction, fantasy, and thrillers. My favorite authors in those genres are Scott Lynch (The Lies of Locke Lamora), Ernest Cline (Ready Player One), Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park), and Tom Clancy (Red Storm Rising). I’ve written about 8 or 9 short stories and 4 novels. My most recent novel (The Rogue Retrieval) is about a Vegas stage magician who takes high-tech illusions of magic into a medieval world where they have the real thing. I’m represented by Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary Agency.
If my name seems vaguely familiar to you, it might be because I host #SFFpit, the twice-annual Twitter pitching event for sci-fi/fantasy authors.
What I’m Looking For
As a PitchWars mentor, I’m looking primarily for submissions in these categories:
- Science fiction
Officially speaking, I’m looking for books for adults (not MG, NA, or YA). I do love reading YA, and my WIP is a YA fantasy, but honestly there are many other #PitchWars mentors who specialize in YA. You’re probably better off with one of them.
This is a very subjective business, so I’m going to do my best to tell you about my own taste in books and writing.
- I prefer high/epic fantasy over modern/urban fantasy, and light over dark/gritty.
- I’m open to all forms of sci-fi, but if there’s a genetics component, it had better be spot-on.
- I like both first person and third person POV, but not second person POV. It’s just weird.
- I don’t care for present tense. Yes, Divergent and The Hunger Games use present tense, but it’s just not for me.
- I like happy endings. There. I said it.
Why You Should Want Me
If you’ve read this far and still think I’m a good fit for you, that’s fantastic! There are many mentors to choose from in #PitchWars. Why should you choose me? Let me offer three reasons:
- I know what it’s like. In terms of progress towards publication, I’m right in front of you: I have an agent and I’m about to go on submission. It’s good to have a mentor who still remembers what it’s like in the trenches.
- I know querying. For my own book, I sent about 30 queries and got 6 full requests (20%). Believe it or not, that’s a good ratio.
- I will work hard as your critique partner and advisor to help you get the book ready for an agent’s eyes.
If you want a taste of what I might be like as a critique partner, see the query/1st page critique that I did along with Pitch Wars host Brenda Drake.
Tips for #PitchWars Submissions
This is my first time as a #PitchWars mentor, but I’ve been around the block to a few of these contests. If you’re interested, I’d offer these bits of advice:
- Follow the submission instructions exactly. I’m lending Brenda Drake some of my technomancy by setting up the submission form and all of that. I’m good, but there will still be ways you could screw the pooch. For example, you might forget to include your writing sample as an attachment. Like literary agents, we mentors will have tough choices to make. When you don’t follow instructions, you make it a lot easier because we can automatically DQ your submission.
- Polish, polish, polish. Please don’t mistake #PitchWars mentorship as a substitute for spellcheck. Or proofreading. Your query and your writing sample should be the best that they can be. Edit, revise, find a critique partner, read it out loud. Read my post on how to write a good opening. Study the tips from #PitchMadness slush readers. Give us your very best.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to submit. Technical issues do arise, even (especially?) when I’m at the reins. Last year there was some kind of Gmail meltdown, or so I’m told. You’ll minimize the chance of a technical difficulty if you make your submission at least an hour before the window closes.
- Know the market, please! I’m looking to mentor an author whose book won’t be an auto-pass in the mentor round. Your book should have an appropriate word count for the age category and genre. Vampires, zombies, and mermaids are tough sells right now. If that’s the only book you’ve written, I do feel for you, because you face an uphill battle and it’s not really your fault.
You’re A Writer. I’m a Writer. Let’s Be Friends!
Even if we don’t match up during #PitchWars, I still like meeting new authors. So give me a shout on Twitter and tell me what you like to write.