Second Chance Pitch Slam is here! Please read below for rules, and information on how to participate!
If you have already participated in Pitch Slam 2, Second Chance Pitch Slam is a chance to be seen and read again, only this time, by a group of great small presses interested in reading your work whether historical, contemporary, paranormal, science fiction or something of a mash-up! Judges hail from InkSpell Publishing, Tribute Books, Magpie Eclectic Press and Month9Books!
For a list of participating publisher bios, click here!
PLEASE DO NOT COMMENT, ADD PITCHES OR OTHERWISE UPDATE, DELETE, REMOVE, INCLUDE, ADD, REVISE, RESPOND, ETC. to any of the below pitches unless you are one of the participating judges. All of the rules of Pitch Slam 2 apply to Second Chance Pitch Slam. Please be sure to read the rules prior to posting. All comments not made by judges will be deleted.
If a judge/small press wants to see more of your submission, they will reply with a note asking you to send it. Judges may not comment on your submission, or they may give their opinion about how to improve. PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND TO COMMENTS, QUESTIONS, RHETORICAL QUESTIONS.
Judges will read your pitches July 1-14, 2012. For those of you who did not originally participate in Pitch Slam 2, you will have a chance again in September when we hold Pitch Slam 3.
The pitches will be 5-6 sentences in length and should be pasted in the COMMENTS section with your full name and title of the work. No pitch longer than 6 sentences will be considered. The pitch should give the reader an idea of what the story is about, including the major conflict. For example, below is a pitch for Harrry Potter.
"Harry Potter is the most miserable, lonely boy you can imagine. He’s shunned by his relatives, and forced to live in the cupboard under the stairs. Harry’s world gets turned upside down on his 11th birthday, when an invite to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry arrives. He learns of the evil Lord Voldemort who killed his parents, and then tried and failed to kill Harry when he was an infant. Harry later learns he was saved for a reason." -- from Wiki Summaries
Members will enter pitches beginning Monday May 28, 2012 at 9AM EST. You may post pitches (as many as you have) any time between Monday May 28, 2012 and Monday June 4, 2012. YOU MAY ONLY POST PITCHES FOR TITLES THAT ARE COMPLETE.
Agent judges may read and respond pitches at any time.
During the week of June 4-11 however, agent judges will read and respond to/comment on pitches.
Judges will be looking for their top 5 pitches (per judge). A total of TWENTY (there are 4 judges) members will have a chance to revise and resubmit based on agent feedback. These are the TWENTY finalists. You may ONLY revise and resubmit IF a judge requests that you do so in the comments they make to you. Judges are instructed to ignore any revise and resubs which have not been approved.
Upon completion of pitch review, judges will POST their top 5 pitches by author and title, establishing the top 20 finalists ON June 22 no later than 3PM EST. So be sure to check back then!
Once posted, those finalists will have a chance to revise and repost during the weekend of June 22-30, 2012.
Judges will review the revised pitches and choose 1 (each judge) as winners: 1. The best and 2. A second best, and 3. Runner up, by July 15.
The four who win the top designation will be awarded a full manuscript critique from whichever judge has chosen them. However, judges may request more than one manuscript from members of the top twenty, or from ANY pitch they like, regardless of whether the pitch itself made it into the top twenty.
Pitch Slam 2 Agent Judge Profiles
Tamar Rydzinski worked at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates prior to joining the Laura Dail Literary Agency. She graduated from Yeshiva University in 2003 with a major in literature and a minor in business.
Tamar is not interested in prescriptive or practical non-fiction, humor, coffee table books or children’s books (meaning anything younger than middle grade). She is interested in everything else that is well-written and has great characters, including graphic novels. A fantastic query letter is essential – “you need to make me want to read your book, and be excited to read it,” she says, “with those first couple of paragraphs.”
Pam van Hylckama Vlieg joined Larsen Pomada as an Associate Literary Agent in 2012 to represent young adult and middle grade children's book authors. Over the past four years Pam has become one of the top YA book bloggers in the country at Bookalicious.org. She partners her blog with Hicklebee's, a children's bookstore in San Jose, CA.
Pam writes fantastical YA and MG fiction and is represented by Laurie McLean, also of Larsen Pomada Literary Agents. She lives in the Bay Area of California with her Dutch husband, two children--a boy and a girl the perfect set--a Jack Russell terrier, a bulldog puppy, and a small guinea pig. It is her greatest dream to own a menagerie.
Michelle Witte* is an agent at the Mansion Street Literary Agency. She is interested a variety of YA & MG fiction, including: Magical realism (think Sarah Addison Allen for teens/tweens), Obscure fairytale retellings (Just say no to 12 Dancing Princesses!), Fantasy, Supernatural (creatures you run from, not date), Sci-fi, Mystery/Suspense, Adventure, Contemporary realistic, Historical. Michelle is a bit weary of Paranormal Romance and Dystopian at the moment. She would love to find a great manuscript that is:
Elana Roth* is an agent at Red Tree Literary. She's a Brooklyn-based creative type, specifically of the word variety. After 4 years of agenting at other people's companies, she opened Red Tree Literary to continue working with a select list of children's and young adult authors on her own.
How she fell in love with children's content is a long story that begins by sheer dumb luck with an internship at Nickelodeon Magazine. Books followed when she began working as an editor at Parachute Publishing, where she spent 5 years learning the publishing ropes on series for kids of all ages (and that includes some adults). She switched to agenting in 2008.
Educationally, Elana is a graduate of Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she earned degrees in English literature and Bible. Surprisingly, it's that second degree which comes more in handy when trying to make conversation at cocktail parties.
* YALITCHAT.ORG member
ADVICE FOR A SUCCESFUL PITCH
Pitches are open to members of YALITCHAT.ORG, regardless of tier. Do encourage friends who aren't members to join, and pitch their Young Adult or Middle Grade titles.
DO pitch only Young Adult and Middle Grade titles. May be speculative, contemporary, historical, non-fiction.
DO test your pitch out in Query Kick-Around or First Pages for feedback from other YALITCHAT.ORG members.
DO have a friend or colleague read your pitch for clarity, spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
DO use as many lines are as needed to form a fully-realized pitch.
DO sample pitches online for the proper format. Google is your friend.
DO NOT present the same pitch more than once.
DO NOT delete a previous pitch that was commented on by an agent judge, because it had errors, and replace it with a new one. The new one will NOT be read.
DO NOT PITCH AGENTS OUTSIDE OF PITCH SLAM. That means, on twitter, on Facebook OR on YALITCHAT.ORG.
DO NOT RESPOND TO PITCHES thanking agents for commenting or asking for clarity. DO NOT RESPONG TO PITCHES AT ALL, UNLESS ASKED TO DO SO.
DO NOT SEND EMAILS TO GEORGIA MCBRIDE ASKING IF YOU CAN REPOST YOUR PITCH, REGARDLESS OF THE REASON. YOUR REQUEST WILL NOT BE READ.
DO NOT pitch a title that has not been written, or in is the process of being written, or you are considering writing, etc. YOU MAY ONLY PITCH COMPLETED, fully revised, and edited titles.
DO NOT PLAGIARIZE another's idea, pitch or story, or in any way present it as your own. Our staff will troll the forum during pitch slam to remove and disqualify vastly similar stories.
DO NOT ask an agent judge about the status of your pitch.
DO NOT add anything other than your 6-line pitch to the comment, except your full name, work title, genre, category. For example: Georgia McBride, YA Fantasy, BEWARE THE GODS, Pitch: Greatest book ever written by a human. You know you want it.
DO NOT claim to have the greatest book ever, or that your title is like another well-published title. Just pitch your book.
DO NOT post questions or anything other than pitches in the comments section. DO NOT COMMENT ON OTHER pitches, or offer feedback or support below. COMMENTS ARE FOR JUDGES ONLY.
Wishing you all the best of luck. This forum will open for comments on Monday May 28, 2012. If you have any problems pitching, or posting, please contact member support at firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone will respond to your note within 48-hours.
While I think I could like the concept, there's not enough here to shove me from iffy to heck yeah! So, I'll give you a few pointers, then let you revise and resubmit.
Oh, and writers, pay attention, cause this is the only time I'm gonna show you this: How you make your query stand out.
So Gretel getting stuck in the witch's house is old hat. We know that. But here you're introducing the witch's back story. That's good—but you don't tell us anything about it in the query. What did Gretel learn about the witch's past? Was she a circus clown? Does she know how to tango? It could be anything, because you haven't given us even a smidgen of a hint. Honestly, lots of people make bad deals. Fairytales (and reality TV) are chock full of them.
Give me some specific yet intriguing details & examples that will make me sit up and say, "More please!"
Perhaps the witch—homeless, ugly, and hungry—traded some magic beans for an edible house and a boob job. I might be a little concerned about a story like this, but at least it got my attention.
So, the lesson for today is: get rid of the generic flap copy and tell us the most fascinating/bizarre/twisted thing about your story. Don't hold back the good stuff for us to discover later, cause there might not be a later if we're not intrigued by the boring buzz words.
GRETEL, MG fairy tale re-telling
Locked in the witch’s house, Gretel meets Annika, a small grey mouse who knows the witch’s secrets. She tells Gretel how her sister, devastated by their mother’s death and the loss of the life she had promised her, made a deal with a witch to trade all she had for the power to reshape her life. Only instead of taking the stolen jewels she had gathered, the witch took her youth and beauty. The dark magic changed her and in a rage she turned Annika into a mouse, and eventually holed up in the woods luring in children and eating them to keep herself alive. Now she intends to eat Hansel, unless Gretel is willing to make a new deal. Will Gretel endanger the lives of countless other children, and risk turning into a wicked witch herself, to save her brother?
I don't see anything wholly original the witch's backstory—it actually just sounds like Snow White with a touch of The Witches. Why does this knowledge change Gretel's course of action? Why does Gretel need to make this deal? It's not adding up for me unfortunately.
The Freak Emporium - YA pscyh-fi Gayle C. Krause
Seventeen-year-old Jill Cimmons discovers strong emotions awaken her inherited extrasensory gift after her mother’s death. It starts with grief and moves to anger when her father yanks her from her hometown and enrolls her in a strange school, where freaky kids send her telepathic warnings and ‘silent speech’ is the chosen method of communication. Her gift accelerates when she learns Nicky DeAntonia, a boy, who annoyed her with his attentions in 4th grade, is also a new student, but now he isn’t poking her in the back with a pencil, he’s using his gift to make her fall in love with him. What Jill doesn’t know is that Nicky hides a secret that puts her life at risk. Kidnapped by a dangerous telepathic organization connected to Nicky, fear causes Jill’s powerful gift to surge to its full potential when the leader threatens to kill her unless she reveals a family secret she knows nothing about.
This sounds fabulous. Great pitch. However the use of psych-fi for YA confuses me a bit. I've never heard of that genre and if it were to be published it would be paranormal/speculative/scifi.
There aren't enough specifics in this to make it stand out from the glut of paranormal romances out there. While it's labeled as psych-fi, it really comes down to paranormal elements (telepathy) and mysterious boy showing up as things get freaky, and I'm really burnt out on PNR.
One question: Is psych-fi a sub-genre I just haven't heard about before?
Are emotions italicized for a reason? Is this supposed to help kids learn about the psychology of these emotions in some way? Because it just distracts me as I read. And I feel this pitch has a few too many cliches: the girl discovering a power who then has to go to a school for kids with powers, the boy who used to tease her who only did so because he liked her, the love interest with the dangerous secret...
I feel like this pitch is trying to do too much, and it's all throwing me off. I agree with Tamar about the emotions being highlighted—what's the purpose of that? To retool this, I'd consider focusing in on what the real crux of the story is and chuck the rest of the details for the sake of the pitch. I don't need every element of the story—I need the hook.
As for the actual hook...that also needs focus. Dead mother. Family secret. Awakened ESP. School for special kids. Dangerous organization. Surprise romance? Too much.
The Eye of Darwin – Gayle C. Krause - MG/YA Sci-fi
Fourteen-year-old Kiara Swain is a prima donna of the highest order; pedicures, designer labels and combat boots, the later not her idea of fashion. Her fanatic father insists she and her older brother, Ryan, become familiar with survival strategies in case of terrorist attacks, thus the Army gear. Kiara performs the techniques half-heartedly, trying not to chip a nail, but when terrorist bombs strike Miami, her minimal skills help her survive a nuclear winter in Florida, alone. What she doesn’t realize is that it’s computer generated and her every move is being studied by scientists and psychologists. Nearly frozen to death, she arrives at a hidden glass dome bustling with vibrant life where cryptic messages lead her to discover the society’s horrific secrets; the leaders are manipulating the genetics of orphans to develop a league of perfect children. Kiara becomes enmeshed in a web of deceit that is tied to her in ways she never imagined, and if she succeeds in saving the children she’ll be changed forever, if she doesn’t, she’ll be dead.
I would love to see the first ten pages and a synopsis pasted into the body of an email and sent to email@example.com
While the premise is intriguing, the first few sentences make me wary, as Kiara comes across as a stereotype that falls into a well-worn trope.
I'm not a fan of "cryptic messages." Who sends these cryptic messages? Why do the characters believe a word of them? I also think that saying that Kiara will be changed forever if she succeeds is redundant. Any book has to have a character arc where the character grows and changes in some way, so please be specific.