Tuesday, July 18, 2017

PICK ME, PITCH WARS! My YA Mentor Bio and Wishlist


I'm Aimee L. Salter, the author of Every Ugly Word (an Amazon #1 Book for Teens) and Dark Touchboth through Alloy Entertainment's newest traditional imprint. I'm a YA mentor, and I can't wait to fall in love with your book!

This video gives you a pretty clear idea how I work, what process I'll take a mentee through, and what's important to me. But before you spend the time with that, scroll down. Below this video is a list of things I don't want as a mentor. If your manuscript or process fits that list, then you can move on without me wasting your time!

I'm committed to offering as much information to potential mentees as I can at each step (including letting all applicants know if they're in the running before the announcement date--keep reading to see how). But I don't want to waste your time if we aren't a good fit. So first, let's figure out if you shouldn't apply to me:

I'm *NOT* the mentor for you if:

You're querying . . . 
  • An adult, NA, or MG novel. (I will consider YA with NA crossover.)
  • Anything with a tragic ending (All the Bright Places ruined me.)
  • Anything with a character battling cancer (too close to home in my personal life.)
  • YA Horror (or anything with more than a couple scenes of gore.)
  • YA Mystery/Thriller/Suspense (only because I don't have enough skills to help with plotting.)
  • YA High Fantasy or Science Fiction.
  • YA Historical--with the exception of Regency Romance (See below for more info).
  • YA Speculative Fiction--with the exceptions of romance-heavy paranormal, or magical realism (see below for specifics, but be certain that I'm not the mentor for urban fantasy/creature-centric worlds.)
  • If you're a committed pantser who doesn't like to outline, plan revisions, or use craft/structure to mold your story. Because all of my advice is going to center around how your novel can be refined by established story development techniques. (Check out some of my old blog posts on story structure and character development to see what craft approaches I advise writers to use to refine a story). 
Still reading? Awesome! Here's a little get-to-know-me video. But if you can't watch, don't stress!

All the information you need about my wishlist and preferences are written below. And I'm happy to take questions in the comments, or on Twitter (I don't bite, promise.)

I *AM* the best mentor for you if:

You're querying . . . 
  • YA Contemporary Romance, including those with NA crossover. (My favorites are The Sea of Tranquility, My Life Next Door, and Saint Anything.
  • YA Dark Romance Think Heather Demetrios's Bad Romance, or a firmly YA version of the Dusty duology, Innocents and Delinquents. (If you're not clear on what defines Dark Romance, check out the free Kindle sample of my book, Dark Touch. In short, it's when romance drives the plot, but the character(s) are dealing with extreme issues which are depicted in the story--abuse, addiction, crime, etc. NOTE: To be a romance, it can't have a tragic ending.)
  • YA contemporary "issue books" My favorites are my book, Every Ugly Word (though I may be biased), We Need to Talk About Kevin, 13 Reasons Why, and All the Rage by Courtney Summers. An issue book should have something to say to help readers understand an important issue, without preaching. Personally, I like to see a romantic sub-plot. But I will accept issue books without one.
  • YA Magical Realism I write these too! Read the free kindle samples on my books to get a feel for how magical realism works, (in short, it's set in the real world with a single, fantasy or magical element--usually a magic or power only accessible to the protagonist). Yours doesn't have to work like mine for me to enjoy it. Another excellent example is mentor Katy Karyus Quinn's Down with the Shine.
  • YA Paranormal Romance where the characters live in the real world, but there's a magic or power wielded by humans, not by creatures or fantasy elements. Good examples are Beautiful Creatures, or The Love that Split the World. (I am not the mentor for your creatures--vampires, werewolves, shifters, dragons, etc--however I will enjoy humans wielding dark powers as the antagonistic force).
  • My outlier is YA Regency Romance It must be genuinely witty, a la a YA version of Julie Anne Long's Penny Royal Green books--my personal favorites are How the Marquess was Won, I Kissed an Earl, and To Love a Thief. This is a harder sell, so don't send these to me unless you've really done your research, your manuscript is very polished, and your voice is funny!
  • Romance-centric anything as an #ownvoices, or young writer (under 25 years old). I'm always eager to assist these writers. So if you fit one of those categories and your book is a romance (i.e. the romantic relationship drives the plot), or has a strong romantic sub-plot, please send it to me!
  • You're an author who genuinely desires to work hard on a technical level to refine and improve your story. To my mind that means you regularly invite constructive criticism from people who aren't friends/family, and seek out opportunities to learn about the craft of fiction. Your book has been critiqued before, and you know the value of having someone else identify story flaws.
If you're still reading because you and your book might be a fit for me, give me a few minutes to tell you about myself, and why I can help you:

What I Can Do For You:

1. You'll (yep, that's my blue word) know ahead of the announcement if you're in the running to be my mentee (or not)

I'll be on Twitter a lot as I go through the process of narrowing down my pick. Yes, I'll tease, especially with queries. But I'll also offer solid, practical advice to help all potential mentees

Once I narrow my choice to 2-3, I'll be corresponding with those people to ensure I've got the right vision for each project. 

I'll announce on Twitter as soon as I know for sure my mentee is in that pot, and I'm not requesting any further materials. So if you follow my feed, you'll know if I'm going in a different direction before the announcement date. (Or, if you're under consideration, you'll hear from me directly). 

2. I have studied the craft of fiction, so my critiques aren't guesswork--but I respect that it's your book, and your vision:

Fear not! I won't steal your creative mojo. I've just learned that all stories can be improved by known strategies, and all of my advice will revolve around the structures and techniques I've learned through study. Check out the first 500 word critiques on my blog for some indication how I would work with your manuscript.
    I plan to do at least two rounds of review with my mentee (an over-arching edit letter, followed by line edits.)


    - Pacing
    - Character development.
    - Romantic plot/sub-plot development and pacing.
    - Emotional connections with the reader.
    - Plausibility. Or the lack thereof. (I have a finely-tuned BS-o-meter. You won't get thinly veiled plot vehicles, or unrealistic character reactions/motives past me).
    - I'm also a naturally wordy writer who's learned to cut-down word count without losing story.

    But, the good news is, I won't just identify the negative, I'll also highlight what's working.

    3. I'm in this for the long-haul, and I'll always be honest with you

    We'll need to work really hard if you want to take the next step in your career. We'll set agreed deadlines for revisions, as well as refining your query. But I'm also here for you down the road with advice on everything from how and when to nudge agents holding your material, to how to conduct yourself on social media in a way that will appeal to publishers. 

    If we work together, I will do everything in my power to help you, even if we aren't successful through Pitchwars. 

    4. I understand what it feels like to be where you are, and I will be your cheering squad: 

    I was a Pitch Wars mentee and didn't get in.

    I got an agent in 2010--who left the industry in 2011. I got another agent in 2012 who later became an internationally bestselling author and stopped agenting. 

    I got my first publishing contract as one of three flagship publications for Alloy Entertainment's new PbA imprint in 2014 (then got a contract for a second book with them which was released last year). But I haven't had a new book out in over a year. 

    I know the ups and downs of this industry, (my own, and others with different stories) and I'll share my knowledge and experience with you. My advice will always be geared towards helping you take the next step--or finding someone who can, if you go further than I have!

    If you still have questions or need clarity on any of these points, I'm answering questions on the NEW Pitch Wars forum! My "Ask Me Anything" thread is here. Or you can tweet me.

    (Scroll down for query advice, or for the other mentor links to move on to the next blog.)

    I think that's everything! Jump on my Pitch Wars forum post linked above, or tweet me with your quesitons (I'm @AimeeLSalter - don't miss the "L" in the middle, it's easy to do). I'm here to help!

    And whether we work together or not, I'm really glad you're a part of Pitch Wars, 2017. It's an AMAZING community, and you're going to grow as a writer because of it.

    God bless,


    Query advice:
    The best query gives me a stunning blurb of no more than 250 words, followed by a brief summary of what is important to you in a mentor/mentee relationship.

    A "stunning" blurb, in my opinion...

    ...WILL: Introduce protagonist, antagonist, what's at stake, where the conflict lies, and ends with a sense of specific, impending doom. (i.e. I should be able to describe what will happen to the character if they don't succeed in their quest--or if the antagonist succeeds in theirs.) 

    ...WON'T: Try to introduce the whole cast, explain deeper themes, or summarize your twist ending. And definitely isn't vague.

    Example of vague, "Sarah's darkest secrets rise as she grows closer to Ethan and threaten their relationship . . . " Example of not-vague, "Sarah's trauma over the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her father makes intimacy with any man feel impossible . . . " That's not a great example, but it gives you an idea of what I mean.)

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    1. Hi Aimee, thanks for doing this! How do you feel about LGBTQ+ novels?

      1. It makes no difference what kind of romance you're writing. To me the litmus test is whether it engages my emotions and is well-written.

        It would, however, probably need to be #ownvoices. I know my gay friends meet different challenges in their relationships than me and my husband/former boyfriends did. Without having had that experience myself, I may not recognize what is truly authentic and what isn't and I'd hate to perpetuate stereotypes. So if it is #ownvoices, definitely mention that in your query!