PITCH WARS YA MENTOR: Aashna Avachat
Welcome to Pitch Wars!
Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months with revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more. For more information, please visit the Pitch Wars website or their FAQ page!
Who I am:
I’m so excited to be a YA mentor for Pitch Wars this year! My name is Aashna, and I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2019, so it’s huge for me to be able to come back and return the wonderful mentorship and community I found here.
I am a YA author represented by Laurel Symonds at The Bent Agency, and I am also an assistant at Helm Literary agency, so I’ve seen the querying process from both the author and agent’s perspective—and I want to make use of that perspective to support currently querying authors!
More quick things about me: I’m passionate about increasing opportunities for people of color in publishing, I’m always reading (my TBR grows every day), I love cooking/baking and spend a lot of time with my foster cats, I’m big on feel-good media but also love the thrilling, darker side of things, and my biggest flex lately is that my bookshelf is filling up with authors I met through the online writing community. I love having guests over and being able to recommend books like, “I know this author personally! I know this one too! We’re friends!” – and I can’t wait until my PW mentee’s books are up there, too.
What I’m Looking For:
Please note that for this mentorship, I will only be considering mentee applications from authors of color. Beyond that, here’s what I’m interested in seeing in your manuscripts!
YOUNG ADULT FICTION!
I am open to New Adult fiction, but I may ask to age it down during revisions!
Within YA, I want to see:
-ALL the ROM COMS!
I want to see swoon-worthy romance that reminds me what it’s like to have a high school crush. Give me anything that comps to: You Should See Me in a Crown; To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before; Happily Ever Afters; The Henna Wars; A Pho Love Story; etc!
-Give me every adorable cliché: fake dating, rivals to lovers, friends to lovers, there’s only one bed, YOU’VE GOT MAIL, everything.
-All the banter, please! Give me the YA dialogue version of People We Meet on Vacation.
-Love Interests that are kind to the protagonist! I want to ship healthy romance ❤
-I want to giggle and feel butterflies while I read—anything I can cozy up with some sweet treats and feel all the feels throughout. Eeeeek!
I love a good thriller, and I grew up on classic mysteries. Give me something that’s going to keep me at the edge of my seat, putting off bedtime because I can’t stop turning the page!
-If your MS comps to Knives Out, I want it. If it makes me feel like I did when I was younger and read And Then There Were None or any Poirot novel, I want it!! If it comps to the very specific The Invisible Guest on Netflix…I want it!
-So many twists and turns, please!!!
-Murder mystery books, Rich kids on an island vacation books, I know what you did last summer books, Terrible secret books, Secret society books, cozy mystery books, I want them!!!
-Freak me out with horrible realization twists like Ace of Spades or Get Out or We Were Liars.
-Morally grey protagonists & characters
-Give me something that has me guessing the entire time. I am so ready to eat it up!
-In general, I’m looking for fiction that is firmly in the contemporary category, whether that’s rom com, thriller, mystery, or something else.
-I love funny books that can make me laugh out loud and startle anyone else who’s also in the café I’m reading it
-I’m a big fan of feel-good fiction with happy endings – I love Ted Lasso, for example, and New Girl! Light-hearted, cozy novels make me happy!
-Conversely, I also love dark, thrilling fiction that keeps me on my toes and terrifies me. Psychological thrillers, anything that’s scary about the real world.
-I’m also open to hopeful issue-driven fiction!
-Retellings in the contemporary genre like She’s The Man have my heart!
-I love unique formats in epistolary / combination style as well, like Where Rainbows End & The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.
-Show me extremely-online teens! That’s how they are in real life! I love social media books, like Tweet Cute.
-Give me “unlikable” heroines, positive & healthy parent-child relationships, complicated friendships, books centered around holidays
-Intersectional representation: authors of color can face marginalization in intersecting ways, so please know that I am always looking to support books by/about QPOC, disabled POC, and otherwise marginalized authors of color.
I can’t wait to read all your amazing manuscripts!
What I’m not a good fit for:
- Fantasy/Sci-Fi – they have a special place in my heart, but I’m just not the best mentor for these genres!
- Historical fiction
- Horror/Paranormal fiction or Very speculative fiction (a little is okay, but should still be mostly rooted in the real world)
- Sexual violence on the page
- Child abuse/parental abuse
- Sympathetic/POV narratives about an oppressor
- Oppressor/oppressed romances
- Books focused on suicide (I’d love to see mental health rep in manuscripts, but if your book deals heavily and explicitly with suicidal ideation or on-the-page suicide, I’m unfortunately not the best fit. For mental health rep that I would be a better fit for, I really enjoyed Turtles All the Way Down!)
- Girl hate / “not like other girls” trope
My Mentorship Style & Why You Should Submit to Me:
I looooove editing and revising. It’s hard work, but I love looking at a manuscript and thinking of ways to make it even better. It’s like a puzzle, and it’s so satisfying to see a story grow into itself. I love writing edit letters for critique partners and agency clients, and I love receiving them for my own work. It is genuinely such a joy to get to help turn a story from imagination into a book.
As a mentor, I expect to be really hands-on, and I want to find a mentee I can have a fun and creatively supportive relationship with! I’ll always be available for phone calls, text messages, Zooms, what not! After mentees are announced, I’d love to do a Zoom to chat with you, gush about your work, and answer any questions! (Totally not required if you don’t want to do video/audio calls and prefer written communication).
You’ll receive at least one long edit letter from me at the start of the mentorship, and then another for round two of revisions, but I’m always down to brainstorm more ideas or give additional feedback whenever you need. This mentorship is about you and making your book as amazing as it can be, and I am here for you for everything that entails! Beyond that, I’m hopeful I’ll get to not only have a mentorship but also a friendship with my mentee. People think writing is a solitary activity, but community is so important to art. I’m excited to root for you through it all.
For more of the nitty gritty, I’m a really responsive communicator, have quick turnaround times, and love getting deep into the revisions process—don’t be surprised if you get an edit letter that just keeps scrolling—it’s not because the MS is bad; it’s because I’m so excited about it I have so much to say 😊. I’ve been known to write sagas in emails. We’ll do big picture & line-level edits.
My critiquing style will be to always lift up what I love about your work, and then dive into thoughts I have about making it stronger. We’ll focus on conflict, active characters, compelling narratives, sharp dialogue, and all other aspects of story-writing. I’ll try to point out moments I want to work better and offer ideas/solutions to those moments. We’ll take a: 1) what isn’t working? 2) how can we make it work better? approach to revising.
Of course, this is your vision, and your book, so we’ll always prioritize that, and ultimately, you’ll take the feedback that resonates with you and leave what doesn’t.
In addition to manuscript revisions, I’m so excited to help work on your query, your pitch, and support you through the querying process and beyond. I hope to be able to connect you with more folks in the literary industry and have your back through finding an agent—and ultimately getting your book into readers’ hands.
For more questions/information!
Feel free to reach out on Twitter @AashnaAvachat – I’ll be doing AMA’s and Q&A’s with Pitch Wars as well!
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