Monday, November 26, 2012

Pitch Wars! Submission Time!

Submissions for Pitch Wars start today (11/26)! Right now! The cut off time to get your applications (query & first five pages of manuscript) in is 8AM EST on December 5. 

Today all the coaches are posting bios/wish lists on their blogs. So before choosing your top 3 picks, check all the coaches' posts in your category before deciding which coach to submit to. To jump from blog to blog, just click on our pictures below. 

Now my bio and wish list!

I’m a mother of three boys and owner of eleven hens. When I’m not collecting laundry or eggs, I write YA fiction. I’m represented by Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency, and I’ve worked with many published YA authors, such as Francisco Stork, Gretchen McNeil, and Kimberly Sabatini—among others. I freelance, too, and I absolutely love helping others hone their manuscripts.

Now I’m looking for YA mss—whether it’s fantasy, historical, contemporary, magical realism, or any other kind of YA. I especially love it when there’s some romance, though I probably won’t like it if there’s “insta-love.” I’m particularly drawn to writing with a strong voice that blends commercial fiction with a literary slant. I probably won’t take any dystopians or novels written in verse.

A few BTWs:

- Someone asked me on twitter what I meant by “literary slant.” I mean that: 1) I love evocative writing—to the point that when I come across it, I want to reread the sentences and paragraphs just to admire it. 2) I love it when characters are so fleshed out, I find it hard to believe they aren't real.  And when I say that I like it when there’s a blend of literary with "commercial" fiction, I mean that the plot has to be original, interesting, and well-developed, too. If you have all these elements, please send your MS to me! NOW!! What are you waiting for? ;)

-But why should you pick me? Because I’m going to make you work so hard, you’ll fall off the grid while revising your MS. Because I have lots of experience editing mss, and I can help you brainstorm. And because we’ll have fun in the process!

-I couldn’t finish without mentioning this: 
Three of the coaches have betaed my mss and they always have amazing notes for me. They are Krista (who’s looking for MG now), Stacey (who’s doing YA, like me, and is looking for kick-ass dialogue), and Shelley (Adult and NA). Also, even though she hasn’t critiqued my work, I know Brenda Drake’s comments are pretty amazing, since she’s worked with one of my CPs. Oh, and Erica Chapman is awesome too, and—hoo boy, I’ll better stop now if I want to convince you to pick me! :P (Because, come on, pick ME! ;D)

-Feel free to ask general questions on the comment section of this post.

Send your applications to Writers can apply for up to 3 coaches. The coaches' categories are set. Coaches can only consider the categories they've signed up for. Writers cannot apply for a coach that is not in their category.

For additional information about this contest go HERE.

·        This is open to finished manuscripts only.

·         You may only enter one manuscript.

·         Only the genres requested by each coach will be considered for the contest.


Subject line: Pitch Wars Application: Coach Name you want to apply for: Title (Example: Pitch Wars Application: Monica BW: GONE WITH THE WIND)

Name: Your Name

Genre: The genre of your manuscript

Word Count: The word count of your manuscript

Query letter here  (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.

First five pages of the manuscript here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.


REMINDER: You can send an application for up to 3 coaches.

Check back soon for a complete list of the amazing agents participating in the contest. There's over a dozen!

Our mentors ...
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Contest Announcement! Pitch Wars!!

We're extremely excited to announce an upcoming event where  agented authors, industry interns, and editors team up with aspiring writers to shine up their manuscripts and pitches to present to some awesome agents.

Here's the deets...

·         The teams will consist of 1 agented author or industry intern or editor (coaches) and 1 aspiring author.

·         November 26: The coaches (listed on the linky below) will post on their blogs what genre/category they want to coach. They'll be very specific genres. Aspiring writers will hop around and decide which coaches best fit their manuscripts.


November 26 through December 5 at 8PM EST: Aspiring writers will submit 3 "applications" to their top choices for coaches to the contest email ( That means, participants will send three separate emails to the contest email addressing each with one of their three top choices for coach.

·         December 5 through December 10: Coaches will read the applications and pick teammates.The coaches don't have to pick from their applications. If a coach passes on an application, it is then up for grabs and another coach, if they haven't connected to their applicants, can snatch it after notifying the applicant and if the applicant chooses the coach.

·         December 12: Teams will be announced. On the announcement post there will be instructions on how the winners must send their work.

·         December 12 through January 16: Each coach will read their teammate's manuscript and give general notes on any issues they find. The coach will help their teammate get his or her pitches ready for the agent round.

·         Note: The material for the agent round will be a 3 sentence pitch and the first 250 words of your manuscript. Coaches will read manuscripts and query letters only once and give notes. It is up to the writer to use the notes from their coaches to get the manuscript and query letter in as best shape as they can to send to requesting agents. The coaches will critique the three sentence pitch and first 250 words. The coaches will read them as many times as they deem necessary. In no way will writers expect the coaches to read the manuscript and query letter more than once or the pitches more than twice.

·         January 20: Coaches will submit shined pitches to the contest email.

·         January 23 and 24: Agents will read and make requests on the pitches they like (it is likely that not all participants will get requests).

·         January 25: We'll announce the team with the most requests and who will take home the winning prizes (an amazon gift card for each).

·         This is open to finished manuscripts only.

·         You may only enter one manuscript.

·         Only the genres requested by each coach will be considered for the contest.


Subject line: Pitch Wars Application: Coach Name you want to apply for: Title (Example--if you want to pitch me: Pitch Wars Application: Monica B.W. : GONE WITH THE WIND)

Name: Your Name

Genre: The genre of your manuscript

Word Count: The word count of your manuscript

Query letter here  (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.

First five pages of the manuscript here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.


REMINDER: You can send an application for up to 3 coaches.

Our mentors ...

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Interview with Literary Agent Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron & Associates

It's time for another interview! 
Today I’m interviewing the lovely literary agent Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron & Associates. She earned her BA from Nottingham Trent University in England, and an M.F.A from The Otis School of Art & Design in Los Angeles. For more information about her, you can visit her page on the company website, or follow her on Twitter at @FriscoDreamer, or read her blog at (Link)

1. How did you become an agent, and when did you start building your own client list?

    To be really honest, three years ago, I wasn't even aware that you needed an agent to submit your work. I was doing my M.F.A in Los Angeles, and my research into the publishing process introduced me to the profession. When I moved to San Francisco last year, I began applying for internships at a few Indie publishing companies around the area. I was always more interested in the creative process of writing, or helping writers to shape their work, I think my headspace was more into getting an editorial internship. Then one day, I came across Kimberley's Agency website. I absolutely loved the look and feel of the agency, so I decided to apply on a whim. I think my stars were aligned well, because I got a call from Elizabeth (Kracht) a week later, and after an informal interview, I got the internship. 
Once I began learning on the job, I realized that being an agent meant I could wear many hats. Not only would I be helping writers to polish/edit their work, I would also be selling their work to the right publishing houses. There was a double challenge here! A harmonious melding of creation and business, if you will. That appealed to me a lot. After almost a year of interning, Kimberley offered me the opportunity to work for her as an Agent. I took it without hesitation. With regards to my client list, I began building my list over the last three months, and already have a small number of great writers on my roster. I would like to keep a small list, because I tend to be a hands-on agent. Being a hands-on agent to too many clients can get a little overwhelming. Also, there are two things that matter to me when taking on a client. One, I absolutely need to love the book. Two, the writer and I need to have a connection. I'm happy to say that this has been the case for all the clients on my list.

2. From your agency’s webpage we know you represent fiction (literary, historical, commercial, and high-end women's fiction), fantasy with layered plots and good world-building, young adult fiction, and some non-fiction books, such as adventure and travel memoirs, journalism & human-interest stories, and self-help books. What aren’t you getting enough of? And what are the fiction genres you definitely wouldn't represent?

    Funnily enough, in terms of adult fiction, I haven't been getting that many multi-cultural projects. Writers like Jhumpa Lahiri, Isabel Allende, Adiche Chimamanda, Ben Okri, Gabriel Garcia, Paulo Coelho, Khalid Hosseini, Lisa See, Orhan Pamuk, etc (I could go on)- have blown me away, time and again, with their stories. Their prose has been a joy to read, and for the days when I'm reading their books, I'm not myself. This would also include multi-cultural historical projects. In terms of YA, I would like to get more projects in the following genres: contemporary, historical, mystery, and psychological thrillers with an edge. I'm also looking for great non-fiction in both Adult and YA categories. In terms of what I do not represent. I do not represent Middle-Grade (which is not a genre, but I've been getting plenty of submissions from this category), nor do I represent epic science-fiction. Apart from that, I don't really like to limit myself. If it's great (not good) writing, I'll be stoked.

3.  Could you tell us about your agency and your role as a literary agent there?

     Well, we're a small boutique agency based out of Tiburon. There are four of us, each with our own subjective tastes, which is wonderful because writers have a great selection of agents to choose from. The Senior Agent, as well as founder of the agency, Kimberley (Cameron) has been in the book business for more than 20 years. So, not only has she built a solid reputation in publishing circles, she's also seen the industry change and grow over the years. It is this experience of hers that makes me very fortunate to be under her wing. She's a wonderful mix of the world of publishing as it once was, and the world it is evolving into today. Working with her, not only do I get to hear about the 'good old days', but I also get sound advice from someone who has weathered every storm that has hit the industry in the past decade or so. Truly, she's been a great teacher. As an agent working for KC&A, I have free reign to choose my own projects/clients. And although we work independently, which is how all agents work, my colleagues and I discuss each other's work frequently, and give suggestions as and when needed. As Kimberley says, her door is always open (we don't have separate offices, but you know what I mean). :)

4.  Are you an editorial agent? If so, what are your strengths? Do you like to focus more on the overarching elements of a manuscript, or do you prefer the line-by-line edits, or both? What part of the editorial process with your clients do you like the most?

     I am an editorial agent, but I do not take on huge developmental projects. As agents, this would mean working with an author on revamping the most basic aspects of her story- premise, characters, arcs, climax moments, etc. If a writer hasn't thought this out well enough, even if her final vision for the story is great, I will have to turn her down. If it's a project I really like, where the writer has been doing her best (working on draft after draft, using original ideas, submitting her writing for critiques), then I will give her/him revision notes and ask her/him to resubmit. However, if I read a project that I love, with a premise that is spectacular, and a story that has been well-written, but is still in need of edits, then, not only will I sign her on, but I will also roll up my sleeves and get into structural as well as line-by-line edits with gusto. In terms of what I enjoy the most about the editing process with my clients, that would be the process of brainstorming, trading ideas back and forth and having them think of different ideas that are much better suited for their story. As an agent, I'm here to give my authors' a reader's perspective, and to bring up discrepancies and questions that need to be dealt with. Who better than they know the inner worlds of their stories? 

5.  You say that the best way to query you is: “Please send email queries to pooja [at] Include a one-page synopsis and the first 50 pages in word attachments. I will get in touch with you for extra pages or a hardcopy. In the case of nonfiction, please submit a well-crafted proposal and the first three chapters of your work in similar format.” Is there anything you’d like to add? Are you a no-answer-means-no kind of agent? And, Nowadays, how long (approximately) do you take to read a query and then a full? 

     That's a good question. My advice to authors would be to spend some time crafting their query letters. I receive a lot of queries that are so long and exhaustive to read-expounding on the plot of their story, and how the author thinks his or her story is different and unique, and how so-and-so person from here said it is riveting. To be honest, unless that person happens to be some well-known writer or editor who has shown an interest in your manuscript, it does not make much of a difference. Instead, focus on giving us a line or two about why you chose us specifically, a summary of the word count, category, and genre your book falls under, as well as a short, interesting pitch for your novel. The last paragraph should contain your credentials, and you should end it with a positive note. That is more than enough.

To be honest, I do my best to reply to each and every query that comes into my inbox. But that sometimes takes time. Which brings me to the second half of your question. The amount of time I take to read and respond to a query depends on the amount of queries in my inbox. If it's a slow week, then my response time will be much faster. But if I'm doing client work and haven't had a chance to get to my inbox, then it can take up to month or two.  

6. Where do hope to be in five years from now?

     Five years from now, I would like to be in a Barnes & Noble, sipping on an Iced Mocha, perusing the shelves containing all of my clients’ manuscripts, and seeing them sailing off the shelves towards the checking counter. I would like to see people picking up my client's books in a nervous frenzy. Most of all, I would like to see my client's getting the recognition they deserve.  

7. Is there anything you’d like to say that hasn't been mentioned in this interview?

    Actually, there is one piece of advice I would like to give. Recently, I sent a rejection letter and got a very depressed email from the author. She had been trying to get an agent for the past two years, with no luck. Suffice to say, that was a difficult email for me to read. My two cents to writers would be this: I know the publishing industry is a tough one to break into. I am also aware of how frustrating it can be to meet one closed door after another. But here is what everyone should know. All the great writers out there have had to face the same challenges before they got their big break. Instead of accepting defeat and giving up on your dream, focus on the bigger picture. You're writing not to get published. You're writing because you love the act of doing so, and you cannot imagine doing anything else. Sometimes it may not be your first book that gets an agent or gets published. Sometimes it may not even be your second book. It could be your fifth. But do not be disheartened. Keep forging forward. If one book has failed to get noticed, do not get bogged down, move on to the next project. Research on what the market is already saturated with, then do not touch that concept with a ten-foot pole. Unless you have a totally different angle, that is. Participate in critique groups were people are not afraid to give you honest feedback. Do your bit, and one day, you'll be paid back ten-fold.

8. Can you tell us why writers would be thrilled to have you as their agent?

    Because I'm absolutely fabulous, of course! (Just kidding, maybe.) :)  Jokes apart, because I am committed to my authors a 100%. This profession is not a hobby for me. It is a passion. I've always been a boring bookworm who would rather be curled up with a book than be out there streaking through town. As an agent, I am the sort who might turn into a nightmare for my authors. I might demand a lot from them in terms of perfecting their manuscript. Even though they might think it's ready to be sent out. My policy is that we cannot leave even the slightest reason for an editor to reject us. Of course, tastes are subjective, so we might be faced with rejections anyway. But if we can minimize the chances from our side, then we've done our work. I'm also the sort that has my eyes peeled out for interesting ways my authors can market their writing or their books, and I love brainstorming with my clients on future projects they have in mind. All in all, as a writer, first and foremost, I am very attuned to the challenges a writer faces. Writing is a lonely, frustrating job. I do believe this makes me connect with authors on a different level. 

Now the fast five for fun!
Guilty pleasure? Chocolates, watching cop/detective series (Castle, NCIS, Bones, The Mentalist, Elementary) despite not being much of a crime book buff, and pretending to myself that X-Men, Cat-woman, Black Widow, etc really do exist, and that I am secretly one of them-except my powers haven't kicked in, yet.

Dream vacation? This is super hard. I love traveling, and there are so many places I have yet to see. Right now, I cannot wait to visit Africa. Something about how wild and unpredictable the place and people are fascinates me.

Random and funny fact about you that we probably don’t know? I am a total fanatic about order. Which means, my books have to be aligned on the bookshelf according to height, my living-room rug & dining table have to be aligned just so, and I have an elephant memory about what goes where and where everything has been kept, which is terrible for my husband. The poor man. 

Professional food spiller or spick-and-span lady? Spick-and-span lady, I can make Monica (from FRIENDS) look like a light-weight.

What makes you laugh? Everything. I laugh fairly easily. Of course, never in inappropriate situations. 

Thank you so much for doing this interview on Love YA!