I'm so excited to be part of the Pitch Madness. Last year I was a contestant and had a lot of fun. I got a full request from Judith Engracia, and while she didn't offer me rep, she did give me valuable feedback that helped me make my manuscript so much stronger.
This year I'm on the other end, trawling through the entries that got the nod from our slush readers and I've peeked at the ones that our slushies passed on too. They've down a fantastic job of whittling down the entries.
I thought it would be good to provide some general feedback on my decision making process to help people for future pitches. So once I got the entries in my sights here's what I did:
The first thing I do is check out the genre. Anything that's MG gets me excited, along with Steampunk, Speculative Fiction and SciFi. Then I check out the word count. I've come across a few with excessive word counts and that's an immediate no from me because I interpret that as they writer doesn't understand their genre (which is a same as some of the pitches and openings were good).
Next I read the pitch and look for any red flags. One that jumped out was an MC being the wrong age for the genre. MG and YA is strongly defined by the age of their MC. I look at the hook - anything high concept stands out. If the pitch is weak and vague then it loses my interest quickly.
After that I look at the words. There was one that had fantastic premise, but the writing was weak so I didn't - though I wanted to so bad. It was in the maybe pile, so the slushies had gotten it right.
Finally, I look it over and think to myself, would either of my sons (they're 14 and 7) or I would read this, and if the answer is a definite 'yes' then it gets added to my pile. If it's a 'no' but I think it's too amazing to pass on and that the agents would scramble over it then it will still go in my list. Two of the five are like that so far.
I've been through the first window of submissions, but am still working through the second window. So far I have:
#1 MG Adventure: I was immediately drawn in as this one's premise is actually linked to my day job, but it was the hook that sold me. It has a kick-arse title too.
#2 Adult Mystery/Suspense: I don't read a whole lot of adult anymore with YA dominating my reading. The MCs job had me intrigued. The pitch was so strong that it won me over.
#3 MG Contemporary: Normally I don't read a lot of contemporary, but this one had scifi potential to me when I read it. I'd love to read this one to my youngest son.
#4 YA Fantasy: YA Game of Thrones - squee! How could I not pick it?
#5 YA Steampunk: *hyperventilates* This one combines my two loves...I won't say what the second one is cause it will totally give it away, but STEAMPUNK! And I think my 14yo would love this. I wasn't sold of the title, but STEAMPUNK. Um, you get the picture.
#6 YA SciFi: When I saw the sport in this one I went YES! Then I saw the hook and swiftly moved it into my folder. I don't get the title, but it wasn't a deal breaker.
#7 MG Fantasy: I loved the concept of this one. Even though it's a girlie MG that I probably wouldn't read to my son, I couldn't pass it up.