• Image of the Pitch Wars logo. Established in 2012. Into the publishing trenches with you.

    Pitch Wars 2020

    Wish List


  • What is Pitch Wars?

    Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published / agented authors, editors, or industry professionals choose one writer and spend three months helping them revise their manuscript.


    Starting in November with revisions, Pitch Wars ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more from the writers. It’s one of the toughest programs a writer can participate in but the skills and community are well worth it.


    This year, Xiran Jay Zhao and I are teaming up to mentor a Young Adult writer!


    From September 27th - 29th, unagented / unpublished YA writers will be able to submit their manuscripts through the Pitch Wars website for us to read and we will choose one to become our mentee!


    If you're not sure whether you should submit to us, read on for all the details on what we are looking for and what our mentee can expect from us.

  • #TeamFireNation

    Sounds like firebending is back on. 😈

    Why You Should
    Submit to Us

    Xiran and I are both former Pitch Wars mentees (2018!) so we’ve been in mentee shoes before. And neither of us found success through the showcase but rather stuck it out and wrote whole new manuscripts that earned us agents and publishing deals (COLD THE NIGHT, FAST THE WOLVES with Macmillan / Wednesday Books and IRON WIDOW with Penguin Random House / Penguin Teen Canada)


    Pitched as Mad Max meets the Iditarod sled race set on Hoth, COLD THE NIGHT, FAST THE WOLVES follows 17-year-old Sena Korhosen after she crosses a notorious gangster on her frozen planet. To pay her debt, Sena is forced to help heal a feral fighting wolf. When Sena tries to escape her fate, she's left with no choice but to flee with the wolf, Iska, in tow and join a group of scientists as they compete in the infamous sled race across the icy tundra, the same sled race that killed her mothers five years ago. Sena will have to discover whether she's strong enough to survive the wild -- whether she and Iska together are strong enough to get them all out alive. It will be released by Wednesday Books in 2022 with a sequel to follow.


    IRON WIDOW is a YA Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale retelling of the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history. The duology will follow an 18-year-old re-imagining of Zetian as she avenges her sister’s murder by an intensely patriarchal military system that pairs boys and girls up to pilot giant magical mecha based on creatures from East Asian myth (Nine-Tailed Fox, Moon Tabbit, etc.), but in which boy pilots are treated like celebrities, while girl pilots must serve as their concubines. It will be out from Penguin Teen / Penguin Random House Canada Fall 2021, with book 2 to follow in Fall 2022.


    As you might can tell from our books, here's where we can really help your story shine:

    • Developmental / big story edits
    • Strengthening main character arcs
    • World building
    • Voice and consistency
    • Being generally awesome
  • The Wishlist

    In a nutshell, we want:

    Diverse and innovative YA / NA fantasy & sci-fi.

    We will be accepting New Adult but will probably ask you to age up or down.

    (Sorry, it’s the market, not us!)

    What Excites Us

    Image of a smiley face emoji
    • Non-European myth and history!!
    • Anything that can be described as “anime-inspired” (Our Favorites: Yugioh, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z)
    • Beautiful, atmospheric prose
    • Fast or tight pacing
    • High concept hooks
    • Tired old tropes done in refreshing ways / Twists on familiar concepts
    • Cunning female protagonists (bonus for straight up villain protagonists! 😈)
    • Intelligent masterminds with master plans to match
    • Soft, respectful bois
    • Romance where the dynamic is 😏 vs 😒
    • Queer found families
    • Anything about smashing gender roles and the gender binary

    What is NOT a Good Fit

    Image of a frowing face emoji
    • Anything with wolves, ice planets, mermaids, or giant mecha.
      (Not because we don’t love those things but our books are about those things and it’s probably best if we keep our distance from that.)
    • Space operas, unless it mostly takes place on an interesting planet
    • Court drama / intrigue (unless you've done something real wild with it)
    • European-centric fantasy worlds
    • Fae or faerie stories
    • Stories about angels and demons
    • Love interests you would unironically describe as “Alpha Male” (Doesn’t respect protagonist’s boundaries, is extremely pushy, has volatile emotions)
    • Actually, no Alpha Male protagonists either!!

    Please DON'T Send

    Image of a warning exclamation mark
    • Stories that revolve about rape and incest
    • Stories that are racist, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ+, anti any marginalized groups
    • Books that support right-wing politics
    • Biblical retellings
  • What Our Mentee Can Expect

    First, we will read through your manuscript and write an edit letter addressing the big developmental edits that we think will make the story stronger. We definitely will want to talk (in whatever form of communication works best) about the edit letter and discuss any changes to be sure you feel confident about tackling them.


    Communication is key so if there’s a point where you get stuck or need extra eyes or just want to talk about your manuscript, we’re very open to having those discussions. We do however, have high expectations of our mentees. I rewrote 2/3rds of my entire book and Xiran revised while attending university full time. We know how tough revisions are and we definitely will guide you through them, but the hard work is up to you. That's us in a nutshell.


    We can't wait to see what you've got in store! 😁


    Check out the rest of the YA Mentors' Wish Lists below.


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