Hello hello! Welcome to the Pitch Wars wishlist for Team Goat (so called because we are at all times screaming, eating, or fainting, not because we are the greatest of all time). If you don’t know what Pitch Wars is and found your way here anyway, Pitch Wars is a mentorship contest/program for unagented authors. Mentees will work directly with a mentor or mentor team to improve their completed manuscript and get it ready for querying and a final showcase early next year. If you are an author with a completed manuscript looking to improve your craft before pursuing and agent and publication, this program is for you! If you are looking for an accessible version of our wishlist, you can find it located in a google doc here.
First thing’s first, here are the genres we’ll be accepting. Getting this out the way early cause you’ve got a hundred blog posts to read and we don’t want to waste your time! Like all good essays written at an unhinged hour the night before it’s due, our wishlist will begin with a thesis statement:
Send us your young adult science fiction or fantasy novel if it’s queer and it slaps.
We are only accepting young adult submissions! If you’re writing middle grade, new adult, or adult, head on over to some of the other talented mentors’ blogs! Please don’t send us your work unless it is young adult (or you are positive you want to age your new adult book down to young adult).
As for genres, we’re here for all things speculative! Sci fi and fantasy writers: stick around! We’ll detail our tastes below for a better sense of what we like.
We are looking for submissions that center LGBTQIA+ characters.
So, who are we?
Rosiee Thor (she/they) is a YA SFF author, garden enthusiast, and purveyor of puns. They are the author of Tarnished Are The Stars, Fire Becomes Her, and The Meaning of Pride. She loves genre bending stories that dig deep into complicated character arcs and relationships, and her favorite trope is found family. They are the big-picture part of Team Goat, with an eye for structure/pacing, a binder full of worksheets, and an arsenal of dad jokes. She is a Pitch Wars 2016 alum, and though this is her first time mentoring for Pitch Wars, Rosiee has shepherded nine mentees through the revision/querying process through other programs–including Emily! She is represented by Saba Sulaiman of Talcott Notch Literary Services. Find them on twitter and instagram.
Emily Grey (she/her) is an author of queer YA fantasy, dog mom, and enamel pin collector. She writes sapphic stories about messy girls who always get their happily ever after. Her favorite stories usually include a romance she can root for, and she loves anything that includes found family, only one bed, mutual pining, or forced proximity. She is an Author Mentor Match round 4 alum. She’s the small-picture part of Team Goat, with emphasis on line editing, emotional beats, and voice. She’s represented by Kiana Nguyen at Donald Maass Literary Agency and is currently on submission with a sapphic YA contemporary fantasy novel. Find her on twitter and instagram.
As a mentoring duo, you’ll have twice the agony! Haha just kidding, or are we? As a previous mentor/mentee duo, we’ve been working together for years, so we’ve honed our process a bit and hope to provide you with the best possible experience we can. Our mentoring style will be highly dependent on our future mentee! No two mentees are exactly alike or need the same things, so we plan to be flexible and figure out what’s best for everyone when the time comes. Before we begin the process, we’ll talk with our mentee about expectations, scheduling, and their specific needs and boundaries to make sure we’re all on the same page.
We plan to do at least two rounds of edits before the showcase: one for big picture and then one for line edits. Both of us will read and have suggestions for both rounds, but you’ll be working more with Rosiee for the first round and Emily for the second. We will both also provide guidance (and spreadsheets) for the post-showcase world of querying. We know how tough it is out there and we’d never leave you hanging.
Overall, much like the esteemed creature we’ve named our team after, we’re tough and loud, but we’re also kind. If we choose you, it’s because we love your work and believe in your skills, but we will expect you to be willing to put in hard work. Our feedback style is (ironically) straightforward. We believe in order to work on what’s not working, you have to know what is working. That being said, we’re both pretty to-the-point, and since being able to quickly process feedback is a critical skill in publishing, we’ll work with you on doing so during the mentorship period. We’ll do our best to help our mentee make their book the best it can be, which means listening to your vision more than enforcing ours. It’s your book, after all.
Why Choose Us?
At the end of the day, it’s not just about us liking your book–you have to want to work with us too! Mentorship requires a lot of trust, and we know that doesn’t always come easily. It’s also highly personal and what works for some people won’t work for others, so if you decide we’re not the right fit for you after reading our wishlist, we promise we won’t take it personally.
Our mentoring philosophy is mostly based on our experiences with failure. Overnight success is rare in this industry, and we’ve both faced our fair share of rejection. With our mentorship comes a lot of understanding and empathy for the position you’re in right now as well as (hopefully helpful) pep talks about how to keep going–and when to keep going. We believe that failure is part of the process and sometimes you have to do things wrong in order to then go on to do them right. We won’t dump you as a mentee just because your first revision didn’t meet our standards. We’re a team, and our goal is to make your book the best it can be and to set you up for the best querying experience possible. We were both mentees once too, and we know what it’s like to be on your side of things.
Now, if you’ll permit us to brag a little bit… between the two of us, we have a lot of experience with this industry…
Rosiee has worked with nine mentees before, many of whom now have agents, and she worked as an agent assistant for two years before publishing her own books. Her experience behind the scenes means she knows what agents are looking for, and she can help you craft a killer query. Rosiee’s editorial eye is also sharp as heck, and her edit letters will help you break your book down into manageable sections. There’s no one I (Emily) trust more to have editorial suggestions that line up with my own vision for my work. When I first became Rosiee’s mentee, I was a complete pantser and had no sense of structure, but my understanding of plot beats has gotten so sharp I plot things down to the scene level now. Rosiee’s spreadsheets will revolutionize your writing life.
Emily has years of experience in multiple areas of the publishing industry. She’s also been a critique partner for years, and several of her critique partners have gone on to sign with agents and/or publish their debuts. Emily is also an absolute word wizard, and I (Rosiee) always run my work through her if I can before sending it to my agent/editor. Her eye for detail and rhythm has taught me so much!
We both approach mentorship as a long-term process that doesn’t end when you sign with an agent or shelve a book. It’s about your career goals overall, and we’re happy to continue providing guidance for as long as you trust us to do so. (For what it’s worth, Rosiee worked with Emily on three and a half books before Emily signed with her agent, so there’s some proof for ya). What we’re saying is, we’re in this for the long haul.
Across all genres that we’re accepting, we’re primarily looking for narratives starring queer characters. As two queer people ourselves, we are passionate about working with other queer authors to bring a wider variety of queer stories to publishing. We are also eager to work on stories featuring queer characters with intersectional identites–disabled characters, neurodiverse characters, fat characters, BIPOC characters, Jewish characters, etc.
We are accepting submissions in pretty much all subgenres of science fiction and fantasy. We are open to both prose novels and novels in verse (Emily got her start writing poetry!) Our tastes tend to lean toward character driven stories with strong character arcs, emotional depth, and writing that blows us away. We love genre-bending stories with a firm sense of place and purpose, stories that ask hard questions, and stories that celebrate the whimsy, wonder, and wildness of magic, science, and friendship. *aww*
In contemporary fantasy, we love stories that combine literary writing and themes with magic. Give us your stories set in small, quirky towns with everyday magic; give us stories about teens working through messy feelings alongside messy magic; give us your narratives with small and selfish stakes that toe the line of imagination. We aren’t the best fit for contemporary fantasy with extensive world building and high stakes or traditional portal fantasy. Give us books like Nina LaCour’s but with magic, or with vibes like The Wicked Deep, The Nature of Witches, or Scapegracers.
Second World Fantasy
In second world fantasy, our tastes run the gamut. We love big concepts, worldbuilding, characters, twists–you get the point–but we also love cozy narratives set in new worlds. We’d love to see traditionally contemporary genres remixed for fantasy, like romcom or mystery. We’d love to see fantasy with a central queer romance, or fantasy that focuses on intense platonic bonds. We want to see layered worldbuilding with characters who might be out to save the world, or only themselves. Either way, they know what they want and are willing to do what it takes to get it. Give us all the high stakes, world shaking adventures and romance, misfits that turn into found family, and magic that takes our breath away. While we love deep worldbuilding and exciting plots, character is still at the core of what we’re looking for here. We’re open to almost anything in this genre, but we’re not the best fit for books that feature fae, or angels/demons. We’d love to see books that feature other mythological creatures, like dragons (especially dragons).
In historical fantasy, we’re primarily interested in stories that have a strong sense of time and place, stories that interact with mythology, and stories that carve out space for marginalized stories to be told. We’re not the best fit for historical narratives taking place during or after World War II. While we don’t claim to be experts by any stretch of the imagination, Rosiee studied history at university with a specific focus on medieval studies, so do with that what you will. Give us stories that feel like YA takes on Madeline Miller, or The Bone Houses.
In sci fi, we want your tightly plotted, pacey as heck, mysteries and adventures. Our taste leans toward lighter fare, focusing on character driven stories that transport us. We love sci fi with seamless worldbuilding that allows us to focus on the story and characters rather than the science. Give us space opera like Becky Chambers or M.K. England, post apocalyptic stories full of danger balanced with hope like This Mortal Coil, and sci fi world building that’s as sure of itself as Gideon the Ninth. We’re not the best fit for time travel narratives.
In science fantasy, we’re looking for stories where science and magic meet and might be indistinguishable from one another. We love stories that play in that crossover space where magic acts like science or science acts like magic, stories where they come into conflict, and stories where they work seamlessly together. Give us your science fiction plots with fantasy worldbuilding, your fantasy adventures with a science mystery at its center, or anything with elements of the “punk” subgenres (steampunk, cyberpunk, gearpunk, hopepunk…) We love a strong aesthetic!
In retellings, we love our classic stories with new, fresh spins. We’re partial to Greek myths, fairy tales, and remixed classics that put marginalized narratives at the center. When it comes to retellings, we like stories that stand on their own without leaning on readers’ familiarity with the original story, and narratives that really have something new to say about well-known stories. Give us classic stories in new times, places, and worlds; show us stories with fresh voices; send us stories that would have the original dead white authors rolling in their graves. Send us books like Cinderella is Dead, Once and Future, Iron Widow, or These Violent Delights, and for the love of god someone send us a trans Cinderella we’re begging you.
Our non-exhaustive MSWL
- First and foremost, we want to see queer books in our inbox! Every letter in the LGBTQIA+ acronym is on our wishlist, so if you’re writing anything queer in any SFF subgenre, we’re interested in seeing it! Please, don’t self reject if you’re worried your book isn’t “queer enough.” We’ve both had that doubt about our own books and Rosiee has chosen mentees in previous programs who self rejected because of this, so please please submit to us! We are open to stories that center queer romance, but romance is not a requirement for queer stories. We’d love to see narratives that focus on queer found family, narratives that explore the gender spectrum, and stories that speak to more than one type of queer experience.
- Magic that feels like science or has a strong internal logic system
- Science that exudes the whimsy or wonder of magic (like alchemy!)
- Weird stuff
- Seriously if you think your book might be too weird we would like to see it
- Anything that can comp to Howl’s Moving Castle
- Characters with strong passions/hobbies
- Characters with ambition (we tend to prefer princesses who absolutely want to be princesses over princesses who don’t, but also we love a swamp gremlin who wants to be a princess too)
- Boy characters who are allowed to be emotional
- Jewish inspired fantasy
- Found family narratives
- Complicated friendship stories
- If your book has an aromantic or asexual character, we want to see it!
- Characters who GARDEN or books set in a GARDEN or just no book at all but you just send us an actual GARDEN
- If your book has the same /level/ of energy as Gideon the Ninth, we want it (we know Gideon is a tough comp, so we don’t need you to be writing goth necromancers in space, but just like… if your ideas are deeply wild and weird and you present them with confidence and authority, we’ll be on board)
- Any book that could be described with the tagline “be gay, do crime”
- A trans or non-binary centered narrative set in a high fantasy world
- Disabled and neurodivergent characters (written by disabled and neurodivergent authors!)
- Retellings but make them gay (or bi or trans or lesbian or ace or…)
- Books that have a strong aesthetic/vibe
- Humor! We love jokes, we love puns, we love snark! Let’s gooo!
- Writing that makes us want to lie down because it’s so good
- Marginalized reimaginings of basically any trope (give us the queer take on dystopian matchmaking, give us a non-westernized space opera, give us a story about a fat princess punching the patriarchy in the face, give us disabled characters surviving the apocalypse… etc. Reclaim the stories that have never centered someone like you <3)
- Writing with strong narrative confidence (this might sound weird, but what we mean by this is prose that feels purposeful, whether it’s super straightforward or super stylistic.)
- Settings that feel like characters
- Sentient magic of any sort, especially if it’s working against your characters
- Anything and everything sapphic (seriously, we are begging you, please)
- Carefully constructed, thoughtful lore
- Unique twists on classic fantasy creatures
- Animal companions
- Once more, with feeling: queer stuff!!!
This list is non-exhaustive, though, so if your manuscript aligns with our general wishlist but you don’t see your exact comps or pitch on our wishlist, please still send! This is just a random list of things we thought of off the top of our heads and is indicative of our general taste, but we’d love to see things we haven’t listed here as well. Please don’t feel limited by our MSWL list if your work is in one of our mentoring genres and you feel we’d be a good fit!
- Nazis of any sort or nazi imagery
- Rape/sexual assault (on page)
- POV characters who experience on page childbirth or pregnancy
- Sick lit (we are very interested in ownvoices stories about disabled characters and chronically ill characters, but this genre is not for us!)
Please understand that some of these items are triggers for one or both of us, not simply preferences. Thanks!
And finally here are some assorted favs just to give you a sense of our taste and vibe, but remember we’re only accepting YA SFF submissions so keep that in mind (So for example we’ve listed some adult books here, but if you’re comping one of them or you feel like it’s got some similar vibes to your MS, please make sure your MS also fits our genre and age category!):
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- In The Ravenous Dark
- Cinderella is Dead
- Gideon the Ninth
- This is How You Lose the Time War
- Beyond the Ruby Veil
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
- Song of Achilles
- The Scorpio Races
- We Set The Dark On Fire
- The Bone Houses
- The Mere Wife
- Honey Girl
- Magic for Liars
- Down Comes the Night
- The Night Circus
- Each of Us a Desert
- Red Rising
- Everything Leads to You
- The Weight of the Stars
- Summer of Salt
- The Midnight Lie
- Girl, Serpent, Thorn
- Howl’s Moving Castle (yes, both)
- National Treasure (no not ironically)
- Road to El Dorado
- Steven Universe
- Adventure Time
- The Expanse
- Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra
- Rise of the Guardians
- The Wilds
- Breath of the Wild
- Stardew Valley
- Kingdom Hearts (all of them but especially KH2 and Birth by Sleep)
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- Final Fantasy (all of them but especially X and X-2)
- Tales of series
- Dragon Age
A note on Ownvoices
We’ve mentioned several times that we are most interested in working on books about marginalized character written by authors who share those marginalizations. However, we understand that not everyone is comfortable sharing parts of their identity publicly. If you are not out and do not wish to be, we support that. We will not ask you to disclose your identity publicly or to us. If you would like to share your identity with us but not publicly, we will not out you! Your privacy is important to us.
Remember to check out the other mentor wishlists too! If you want to know more, you can follow us on twitter, instagram, or comment here on this post! We’ll be happy to answer your questions about our wishlist. We request that you ask questions publicly on social media and don’t utilize our DMs, as we don’t routinely check our DM requests from people we don’t follow. If you have a question you’d rather ask privately, you can use the contact form on the website here.
Pitch Wars 2021 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists
Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2021 Mentors’ Wish Lists. To view the wish lists by genre, visit this link.