Welcome, welcome, Pitch Wars hopefuls! We are Liz Lawson and Jeff Bishop and we’re so excited to be mentoring for Pitch Wars this year!
For those who aren’t familiar, Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one mentee to work with on a specific manuscript for an agent showcase that will be on February 7, 2020 (A WHOLE NEW DECADE!!! THE FUTURE!!! AGH!).
Meet Team BAWSON!
A little bit about Liz:
In my day-job life, I’m a music supervisor of film & television. I live in Los Angeles, but am originally from outside of Philadelphia and understand the east coast waaaay better than the west (even though I’ve been in LA for like 9 years now). I have my Masters in Communications and my Bachelors in English and Philosophy from Villanova University, so needless to say, I have read a LOT of books in my life.
I also have a bunch of editing experience from working at Paste Magazine, holding a position on the board of my college newspaper, and mentoring in this year’s Author Mentor Match. I love mentoring up-and-coming writers, and I can’t wait to see your work!
A Little Bit About My Work:
For fans of Thirteen Reasons Why, This Is How It Ends, and All the Bright Places, comes a new novel about life after. How do you put yourself back together when it seems like you've lost it all?
I’m repped by the phenomenal Andrea Morrison at Writers House.
A little bit about Jeff:
What’s up, Pitch Wars! I’m Jeff, I write contemporary YA fiction that typically skews a little older (*cough* NA *cough-cough*). I’m repped by the delightful Christopher Schelling of Selectric Artists, and my debut novel A HEAVY DOSE OF ALLISON TANDY comes out Summer 2020 from Putnam/Penguin.
I was a 2017 Pitch Wars mentee and this is my first year mentoring. I’m originally from Evanston, Illinois, a suburb just north of Chicago, and graduated from the University of Illinois last year with an Econ degree.
Do I remember anything I learned about Economics? No
Do I call myself an ‘Economist’ because there’s no rule that I can’t? Yes. Yes I do.
Currently, I live in Los Angeles (because I’m a cliche) where I work in music supervision for one Liz Lawson you might’ve heard of from the bio above this one. (As a mentor, I’d give here a 10/10. As a boss? TBD) Basically we’re responsible for the music you hear on shows like Love & Hip Hop, Black Ink Crew, and (my personal favorite) How Far Is Tattoo Far.
For anyone on the fence about submitting to Pitch Wars, I’d ask that you consider my story before opting out of this year’s program. I randomly stumbled onto Pitch Wars in the middle of the submission window back in 2017, and submitted my manuscript on a whim. I was slogging through the query process just like everyone else, worried that soon I’d be forced to abandon my manuscript, move on to another project.
A few weeks later I got the email from my eventual mentor, Alicia Clancy, that would change my life.
It really only takes one person (or in our case, two) who looks at your manuscript and sees the path forward. Maybe Liz and I are those people; maybe not. That’s why Pitch Wars has such a fantastic array of talented mentors). Regardless, I’d encourage everyone to apply, on the off chance your Alicia is amongst this year’s mentors.
Our Mentoring Style
We are 1) friends, 2) coworkers, 3) critique partners, 4) colleagues (which is maybe the same thing as coworkers), and now co-mentors, so it’s safe to say we work well together. Even our editors are besties. (Hi Ari and Krista!) We’re on the lookout for a mentee who can seamlessly mesh with our personal/professional dynamic.
What You Can Expect From Us:
Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
Query & Synopsis Review
Liz will tweet frequently at you during the editing stage
Jeff will email you pictures of his dogs
At the end of the day, this is your career and your book, and we think an ideal mentorship can only exist if both the mentee and the mentor acknowledge that. We might suggest changes that you don’t like — that’s fine! We’re more than happy to have someone push back on suggestions, ask us to give them reasons behind notes, and challenge edits. We want our mentee to be passionate enough about their writing and their book and confident enough in themselves to be able to do that.
That said, communication is key on both ends of this relationship. When we read your book, we’ll take notes and make line edits, and then send them on to you. After you’ve digested, we can chat over phone/skype/email/whatever, and make sure we’re on the same page. At the end of the day, our goal is to make YOUR book the best version of itself it can be — and work collaboratively with you to do just that.
What We Expect From You
Hard-Working: We’re going to ask a lot out of our mentee, and we’re looking for someone who’s just as eager to dive in and get to work
Receptive: There’s a good chance we’ll ask for wide-sweeping changes; a mentee should be willing
Communicative: If there’s something about our edits that doesn’t sit right with you, please let us know, so we can convene as a group and discuss. Ultimately this is your manuscript, and we just want to be the best stewards we can be
Team Bawson’s Wishlist
This year, we’re broadly accepting YA stories in the following categories:
Contemporary: Rom-coms; light/funny stories; serious or issue-driven; and dark (Liz’s debut is prettttty dark and one of her fave books of the last years is HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE DARK by Kathleen Glasgow so she’s all about the darkness).
Science Fiction: Near Future, Alternate History
Thriller/Suspense: Give us a twist we don’t see coming (which should be easy since Jeff never sees things coming)
Mystery: Traditional, Mystery - General/Other,
Historical: Preferably somewhat recent
Retellings (of any one or more genre(s))
Voice-Driven Stories: It’s true what they say about voice—it can’t be taught! So we’re on the lookout for stories with POV characters that have a strong voice that grabs us from the get-go. A voice that we fall into and won’t let us go.
Unreliable narrators: Here for them!
Unlikeable protagonists: Who gets to claim what is likable and unlikable anyway?? Bring on the unlikable girls who kick ass and don’t apologize for it!
Upper YA: We both write stories featuring teens on the back end of high school, and are hoping for more of the same from our mentee. That also means cursing, drinking, and drugs are kosher with us. (The more, the merrier—Jeff).
Jokes/Dark Humor: We tell some pretty lurid jokes around the office, so if your sense of humor skews darker, we’re here for it. Regardless, any book that makes us cackle to ourselves then furiously text “you gotta hear this line!” to each other will rocket up to the top of our pile
Witty Banter: Always.
Enemies-to-lovers: Especially if done with a unique spin to it.
Innovative Formatting: Think books like Sadie or Daisy Jones and the Six.
Contemporary Music: It is my (Jeff) personal crusade to champion YA books that feature the popular music teens are actively listening to that often get overlooked in young adult fiction. So if your character listens to Rap Caviar, for the love of god, I AM THE MENTOR FOR YOU. (NOTE: If your character listens to the Smiths, Mountain Goats, Sleater-Kinney, or a band of this ilk, don’t worry! That won’t disqualify you! I’ll just give you a hard time/create a Spotify listening syllabus you’ll be expected to engage with.)
Want EVEN More??
Stories that explore friendships
Boarding school stories
Books set in Chicago or Philadelphia or Los Angeles
If you’re still in doubt, ask. We’re both active on Twitter, so feel free to @ us at the links listed below. It’s really important to make sure the mentors you’re subbing to are a good fit for your story’s main elements (but please don’t pitch us your book).
Some of our favorite recent titles:
We are NOT looking for the following:
Unfinished Manuscripts: This is a general Pitch Wars requirement, so any query that starts with “it’s almost done” will be dismissed.
No hard Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal: Neither one of us reads much from these genres, and with so many amazing mentors fiending for them, you’re better off submitting elsewhere.
Pure Romance: Look, we love love as much as the next guy, but if your manuscript is a capital R “Romance” we probably aren’t the best fit.
Talking animals: (Liz HATES animals) (No I don’t, shut up Jeff) (Make me) (You’re fired)
Relentlessly Dark: Comic relief is your friend (or in this case, OUR friend) so books that are singularly dark aren’t right for us.
Stories only about sports (we don’t mind if your character plays a sport but prefer it to be in background of the greater story).
Where to find Team Bawson:
Entering Pitch Wars is a leap of faith, for mentors and mentees alike. We appreciate this fact, and promise to keep it in mind while considering the projects each one of you has no doubt poured time and love into.
Thank you for considering us, and good luck!
If you have any other questions feel free to reach out to us on twitter!
Pitch Wars 2019 Young Adult Mentors' Wish Lists
- Aiden Thomas (Accepts NA)
- Kelsey Rodkey and Rachel Lynn Solomon
- Nancy Werlin
- Olivia Hinebaugh
- Abigail Johnson
- Rebecca Schaeffer
- Rebecca Coffindaffer (Accepts NA)
- Laurie Dennison
- Sam Taylor
- ST Sterlings (Accepts NA)
- Brenda Drake and Kyle T. Cowan (Accepts NA)
- Carrie Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
- J. Elle
- Andrea Contos (Accepts NA)
- Raquel Vasquez Gilliland and Sandra Proudman (Accepts NA)
- Ayana Gray (Accepts NA)
- Susan Lee and Auriane Desombre
- Julia Ember (Accepts NA)
- SA Patel
- Kat Dunn (Accepts NA)
- Sonia Hartl and Annette Christie
- Jesse Q. Sutanto
- Ray Stoeve
- Aty S. Behsam and Kylie Schachte
- Cole Nagamatsu
- Rachel Griffin
- Adalyn Grace
- Adrienne Tooley and Kelly Quindlen (Accepts NA)
- Ciannon Smart and Deborah Falaye
- Kristin Lambert, Sasha Peyton Smith
- Kimberly Gabriel and Dawn Ius
- Lyndsay Ely
- Jamie Howard
- Jenna Lincoln (Accepts NA)
- Jen Marie Hawkins and Anna Birch (Accepts NA)
- Judy I. Lin
- Leila Siddiqui
- Zach Hines (Accepts NA)
- Hoda Agharazi
- Michaela Greer (Accepts NA)
- Liz Lawson and Jeff Bishop (Accepts NA)
- Lindsey Frydman (Accepts NA)
- Chelsea Hensley (Accepts NA)
- Isabel Ibañez