Pitch Wars 2021 Wishlist
Who We Are
We are long-time critique partners who first met in 2017 at the WriteOn Con forums. That same year, we participated in Pitch Wars together as mentees. Now, we're in our third year mentoring Pitch Wars together.
Adrianna Cuevas the author of the Pura Belpré honor book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez and Cuba in My Pocket. She is a first-generation Cuban-American originally from Miami, Florida. A former Spanish and ESOL teacher, Adrianna currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and son. She is represented by Stefanie Sanchez Von Borstel of Full Circle Literary.
Sarah Kapit is the author of Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! and The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family. Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! was a Schneider Family Honor title and received the Washington State Book Award in the Young Readers category. She lives in Bellevue, Washington with her family and a goofy orange cat. She is Chairperson of the Association for Autistic Community and a Board Member of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. Her work is represented by Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
How We Mentor
As your mentors, we have high expectations for you and will be tough and encouraging. We'll start off by sending you an edit letter that is broken down by plot, world building, and writing style. We invite you to ask a lot of questions as you read through your edit letter. We're here to help you brainstorm possible solutions. But ultimately, this is your manuscript and if there's a suggestion in your edit letter that doesn't feel right, we'd love to talk it out with you.
Together, we'll help you come up with a revision plan for your manuscript that you're comfortable with.
We'll be available to you during the revision process to provide any support and assistance you may need. We typically prefer to communicate through email or Twitter DMs. Once you've finished your revisions, we'll look at your manuscript again and provide additional feedback.
We'll also help you craft a query letter and pitch for the agent showcase.
We understand how tumultuous the author journey can be so once the agent round ends... we'll still be available for support. If you need cheering on, advice, or just to vent, we're still your mentors! We can give you advice on agents and querying strategy. Neither of us signed with an agent as a result of the agent showcase, so we understand that Pitch Wars is just one of many opportunities. We want to stick around and make sure your feel confident going forward in your career.
Sarah and Adrianna took a manuscript I already thought was strong and proved why good mentorship is key. They noticed mistakes I never would have, and helped me get to the heart of my story. All the while, we had a blast! Without my two mentors, I never would have landed an agent within a month of finishing revisions.
–George Jreije, Sarah and Adrianna’s 2019 mentee and author of Shad Hadid and the Alchemists of Alexandria (Harper Collins, 2022)
We are accepting submissions in contemporary, fantasy, and science fiction.
Across all categories, we want an irresistible middle-grade voice and one-of-a-kind characters that kids will love. We prefer fast pacing to a more literary style. Serious topics are fine as long as they are handled in a kid-friendly way. For examples, see our comp titles.
If your book deals with death or child abuse as a primary subject, we aren’t the best fit. Humor is always a big plus- the more kid-friendly, the better. Since this is middle-grade, we are totally okay with fart jokes.
Books with graphic elements are very welcome, as are other alternative formats. However we won’t be accepting full graphic novels or novels in verse.
We would love to see works from writers who have traditionally been underrepresented in publishing--BIPOC, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities (including neurodivergent people). If you are comfortable describing your work as #ownvoices that is fine, but please do not feel obligated to disclose anything if it makes you uncomfortable.
As authors who write books that tend more towards the commercial side of MG, we are very interested in books where the characters’ marginalization isn’t the major point of the story. We believe that marginalized people have so many stories to tell beyond stories of tragedy and pain. We want books that capture a spirit of hope and possibility.
We've included a list of some of our favorite books for each category. If you can comp your book to anything on our list, we would definitely be excited. We are also fans of each other's books, so if you can comp to them, we would be super-excited as well.
We want heart-warming contemporary stories! Some things we particularly love to see:
Family relationships--parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, and all the rest of it!
Stories showing the complexity of friendship
Coming of age stories of all kinds
Flawed, relatable protagonists
Kids with passionate interests--whether its arts, science, or sports
Kids who fight for what they believe in
Although we are not looking for “issue books” per se, a book that can discuss an important social issue in an accessible way would be very welcome in our inbox.
Some of our favorites:
Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert
The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy
Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim
Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy
Amina's Voice by Hena Khan
Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba Higuera
Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass
In the Role of Brie Hutchins... by Nicole Melleby
We are interested in light fantasy stories and contemporary stories with fantasy elements. We like fantasy stories that are set in the real world, whether it is our current-day world or a historical period. We especially love:
Unique magic system
Magic and myths from cultures that have been traditionally underrepresented
Contemporary stories with just a few magical elements
Character-driven fantasy stories that explore family, friendship, and other MG topics
New twists on old tropes
A sense of whimsy (think Amari and the Night Brothers)
Fantasy stories with elements of sci-fi
We aren’t the best fit for high fantasy/secondary world fantasy. If your book begins with a map, it probably isn’t for us.
Note that light contemporary fantasy is different from magical realism. Magical realism refers to a specific literary style rooted in the cultural experience of colonialism and post-colonialism.
Some of Our Favorites
Sal and Gabi Break the Unvierse by Carlos Hernandez
Love Sugar Magic by Anna Meriano
Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo
The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf
Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim
We are very open to science-fiction stories with memorable characters, fun adventures, and lots of heart. Some things we'd love to see:
Near-future tales of adventure
Anything that explores common MG themes from a sci-fi perspective (i.e. the first day of school, navigating family relationships or making new friends)
Some of Our Favorites
We're Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy by Gareth Wronski
What We Don't Want
Please do not send us books with any of the following elements:
Solving puzzles as a major plot
Death and grief as a major theme