3 S.R. Johannes: It's time for the Agent Pitch Contest!

Monday, June 07, 2010

It's time for the Agent Pitch Contest!

Winner of the Arc of Sapphique is..


Congrads and email your address to sjohannes@bilaninc.com

Pitch Contest


1) You can only enter one query so pick your best one.
2) You must be a follower of my blog to enter
3) Follow Bree's blog. Bonus! (FYI you can also follow Bree on Twitter)
4) Leave your query pitch in the comments. It can be no more than 3 sentences and one sentence pitches are fine! Sometimes they are more effective than 3 sentences.
5) You have until June 8th, Tues 9 PST/12 EST PM to enter. I will go by the time stamps in the blog comments so check your clock!

Some Tips:

  • 1st place winner can submit the entire manuscript
  • 2nd place winner can submit a partial (first 3 chapters)
  • 3rd place winner will get a query critique

Now, here is Bree Ogden!

Hi Bree! Thanks for having fun with us this week! Tell us about yourself and how you got into agenting?

Hi Shelli, thanks for having me. I'm excited about the contest. Well let’s see…I’m a girl who loves books and everything about them. That is the number one most important thing about me (how is that for melodrama?) I have my masters in journalism and I left Northeastern University thinking, “Wonderful! Every newspaper in America is dying a slow painful death, and here I am with a shiny new certificate to work for these sinking ships.” For some reason (that I like to call kismet) I moved to the Seattle area, where I interviewed for an executive assistant position at Martin Literary Management. I fell in love with the business. I mean, head over heels, Prince Charming love. So here I am today!

What do you feel sets you apart from other agents?

I’m probably not all that different from other agents. We all love books, we all want to see this industry grow and improve, and we most definitely always have our clients’ best interest at heart. I’m a very hands on agent. If a book is great, with the exception of one little part, I’m not going to turn it down. I’m going to work with my client to better their book.

Tell us, so far in your submissions, what is your biggest pet peeve when receiving submissions?

I talked about this in another interview but I relish the opportunity to elaborate on it: I hate when I get a query letter that tells me everything BUT the plot of the book. And it happens more than you would think. The author will tell me about a character in the book, or tell me why this is a book I should represent. But there will be no plot line in sight. And I simply cannot ask for a manuscript if I have no idea of the plot. Which is unfortunate for both the author and myself…because it might be an amazing bestseller book. Your query letter is your KEY to opening up that magical door called ‘getting published.’ Put as much thought into the query letter as you put into the book. You won’t regret it.

What are your top 3 books of all time? And why?

Ahhh! I can’t answer this question! It’s so hard. I can tell you that Wuthering Heights is one of the greatest pieces of literature this world has ever seen. Heathcliff is the most profound character I’ve ever come across. He is complex and passionate, and not necessarily in a good way. Sometimes it is hard to breathe while reading Wuthering Heights. I love Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman. It’s a graphic novel about the Holocaust. The dichotomy of the comic book structure and the seriousness of the Holocaust is simply stunning. I love every Chuck Klosterman book and every Nick Hornby book. Okay, I know that’s more than 3 books. I cheated.

If you could have a special power, what would it be?

Awesome question. The little kid in me really wants to say, “fly!” Because, well, how amazing would that be?! But the 26-year-old me wants a special power to…yea, fly. I’m sticking with that.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.

I’m not really full of surprises. I wear everything on my sleeve. But I can tell you something that I am getting into that is surprising me. Recently I started taking Beekeeping classes. I have been deathly terrified of bees and wasps since I was a little girl. But I made a Bucket List, and darn it, I’m going to fulfill it! (Being a Cheese Connoisseur is also on that Bucket List.)

What are you looking for and how can authors submit to you?

I rep Young Adult, Graphic Novels, and Children’s books. So obviously, I am looking for books in those genres. I’m not looking for anything specific, per se, but I know that I am not looking for vampires or werewolves. It’s hard right now for YA writers to pull themselves away from the paranormal. But there are so many untapped territories. Also, it doesn’t hurt to utilize real life people with real life problems in real life situations. I have to believe that there are still teens out there that want to read about what can actually happen to them or what their life might actually be like.

Any writer in these genres should query me by sending a well thought out and creative query to Bree@MartinLiteraryManagement.com.

GOOD LUCK everyone!


storyqueen said...

You had me at Cheese Connoisseur!!

What a great interview.

And I love the idea of the contest. Can't wait to read all of the pitches.


Janet Johnson said...

Wow, beekeeping. That is dedication to the bucket list!

Okay, her's my pitch:

When his country is thrust into war, Prince Charming's little brother must overcome a traitor, mutinous people, and his own failure as a prince to prevent the downfall of his kingdom.

Amparo Ortiz said...

Great interview, Shelli!

Here's my pitch:

Chosen to protect solely the dead, seventeen-year-old Lexie Cruz colors outside the lines when her nemesis, the Skater Douche Lord, goes after an unborn Soul--someone who's still alive.

John Zeleznik said...

Outstanding interview. Here's my pitch for "Winter's Discord," a YA fantasy novel.

After an attempt on his life, Ben Grange and his friends are thrown headlong into a conflict that they don’t entirely understand, leaving them alone to deal with issues of loyalty, friendship and responsibility in this A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE meets THE HILLS young adult epic fantasy.

Candyland said...

Bree sounds ridiculously cool (beekeeping?! hells yeah!) and I love a good pitch contest, so here goes:

At 9:58 pm, a national broadcast of The Next Big Rock Band airs sixteen-year-old Thursday Night Scum rock starlet, Caty James Greyson, catching a bullet to the chest, but at 9:59 pm, she presses rewind.

Jennifer said...

Awesome interview! Thanks for doing this Shelli. Joined Bree's blog and now follow her on Twitter.

Here is my pitch: Teaming up with her reluctant science partners and her brother, Lizard-breath, eleven-year-old Jackie Barry sets out to solve a mystery that lands her knee-deep in frogs, turtles, ducks, and the most exciting balloon fight of her life.

Martina Boone said...

Great contest and fantastic interview! I'm going to go Tweet this right now. Meanwhile, good luck, everyone. Here's my entry:

When her forbidden supernatural powers endanger her human mother and release a vengeful goddess, a 17-year-old half-mortal must choose between her mother’s life and the safety of the human race.

And for anyone who wants more contest options, read the sidebar at Adventures in Children's Publishing for a preview of our upcoming Thursday contest! :0

Unknown said...

I wish I had a finished MS to query! Thanks for posting. :)

CL said...

Thanks for holding this contest, Shelli and Bree! What a great idea. And here's my pitch:

When a giant wave sweeps Mel into the ocean, she's transformed into a mermaid against her will. But, in this twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, getting a tail forces our heroine to swim against the current and learn to stand on her own two feet.

Larissa said...

I love pitch contests! Thanks for the fun opportunity, Shelli and Bree!

Here's my pitch:

When people in his small town begin obsessing over a book and literally reading themselves to death, thirteen-year-old Mitch must find a way to break the obsession before he loses everyone he loves.

Danyelle L. said...

Great interview! I'm following Bree's blog through email. :)

Here's my pitch:

After Esmeralda’s DIDs—damsels in distress—drive her to become a wicked fairy godmother, she never thought she’d pick her wand up again. When the fairy queen offers her a chance to redeem herself, she agrees to aid and abet a deserving young maiden once more. Little does she know that returning to the world of fairy godmothering will involve kidnapping a Prince Charming substitute, turning his rescuers into small woodland creatures, and dealing with loopholes in the standard fairy godmother contract.

Stina said...

I won!!!! I can't wait to read the book. :D

Wow, these are all great pitches. Glad I don't have to pick a winner.

Here's mine:

When a terrifying secret puts her best friend’s life at risk, seventeen-year-old Calleigh has to live a lie, and keep her new boyfriend from discovering the truth.

Unknown said...

An alien invasion isn’t always preceded by breaking news reports and world-wide military reaction. Sometimes, the only person who knows is a thirteen-year-old boy.

Michelle Sussman said...

I am so afraid of wasps. Bees? Not so much. :-)

Here's my pitch for my 50,000-word YA high fantasy Anathema:

Mina, gifted with powerful magic, is believed to be the focus of an ancient prophecy directing her to free her people from their oppressive conquerors. Unfortunately she’s a sheltered slave girl, surrounded by lies and manipulation, who doesn’t know how to believe in a destiny thrust upon her by people desperate for freedom.

Pam Harris said...

Wow, cool contest! And so many great entries so far. :) Here's mine:

Austin Hayden quits the football team, starts a band, and goes completely emo—and only Savannah truly knows why. So when she sets her sights on the new guy in school, so does Austin. Vengeance is a bitch.

Marquita Hockaday said...

Really cool interview. Beekeeping? That's my worst nightmare! Really unique pitches so far:

Just as Syl Houston's older brother goes off to fight in World War One, the Spanish Influenza runs rampant through the city and everyone and everything around Syl starts dying. What does Syl have left to hold onto?

Jessie Harrell said...

Thanks for the contest, Shelli, and for judging, Bree. Here's the one-liner for my 89,000 word YA retelling of Cupid & Psyche:

When Sadie destroys the one relationship she can't live without, she must journey alone through ancient Greece, and confront the goddess who would see her dead, if she wants to reclaim an immortal love.

Anonymous said...

Wow--I learned a lot from this interview. Thank you!

Here's my pitch:

Who needs time machines and tesseracts? Not sixteen year-old Jacey Grobe, who is about to learn that life in a small Idaho town is only one thread in an enormous skein of dimensions, and that she has the power to visit them all.

Gail said...

I don't have a pitch since I'm still working on the first draft of my MG book. BUt OMG! The pitches on here have been fabulous- I want to read some of those books right now!!!

Tabitha Bird said...

Awesome. I will work on my pitch and might come back and submit. Great comp. Thanks

Jordan Deen said...

What a great interview. Thank you for hosting Shehhi! It's nice to meet you Bree. Beware: No paranormal elements ahead.

Here's my pitch for my edgy/contemporary YA (73,000):

Seventeen-year-old Danny Cummings doesn't believe in fairytales or happy endings. But ditching his sinister ways and chasing Cinderella, is all he can think of after one wild night that doesn't go exactly as he planned or even imagined. Fifteen-year-old Lauren McIntosh can't see real life past the fairytale... too bad Danny is not Prince Charming.

Thank you!

Tess said...

Thanks for this interview Shelli and Bree .. it's always fun to get in the mind of an agent. I'm blessed not to need this contest, but think it is uber awesome that you are hosting it. good luck to all!

Kelly Polark said...

Shelly, you are the queen of fabulous contests!
I'm almost done with my mg, but not quite....so will have to wait to your next pitch contest to enter!
Love the entries! Great interview!

Stacee Himes said...

Hi everyone!

Here's the pitch...

Somewhere between the tick and the tock, Alex's life is changed forever. After fleeing his grandmother's funeral, Alex finds himself lost in the darkly mysterious land of "The Under". Before he can return home, he must defeat the Black King and fulfill his family legacy.

Michelle L. Brown said...

I'm already following Bree on twitter and now am following her blog via email. Thanks to you both for the contest!

Here's my pitch for my tween novel, REVENGE OF THE PINK GRANNY PANTIES:

When Chuck and posse pull one prank too many in their quest for revenge against a former friend, Chuck has to find a way to save their spots on the basketball team and cover their butts . . . literally.

D.M.Cunningham said...

I'm just stopping in to say how awesome Bree is. She hears it from me all the time.

The pitch - A vampire and werewolf walk into a bar. Each one of them is holding a copy of Wuthering Heights under their arms...

Just kidding! Good luck everyone, it will be a wonderful opportunity.

Unknown said...

Fun! Following Bree's blog via email (already a Shelli follower!)

Here's a 3-sentence entry for 800-word picture book WHAT'S IN MY POUCH?:

From marbles to seashells, from purses to pockets—tiny objects and containers fascinate children everywhere. From the Tuareg of Mali to the indigenous Yukagir of Siberia, children carry needles, knives, herbs, and other treasures in pouches made of reindeer skin, twisted plant fibers, and even bird legs! In a peek-a-boo page turn format, young narrators from every inhabited continent offer young readers a glimpse into their treasured pouches—and their cultures.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the contest. Here's my pitch for THE THIRD TOWER, a 78,500-word middle grade fantasy.

When twelve-year-old Jasmine, adopted from China as a baby, and her best friend Austin follow a talking doorknob into a multicultural world, they are shocked to find out everyone believes she inherited her adoptive great grandmother’s magical powers. Their lives take a dangerous turn when they discover an evil man desperately searching for a hidden magical weapon needs Jasmine to use it to destroy the land’s magic. Realizing he’ll stop at nothing to make her help him, Jasmine and Austin must discover how her adoption unlocks her newly found magical powers or she’ll face a terrible choice: be forced into the man’s evil plot or lose Austin forever.

Jennie Englund said...

Thanks, Shelli and Bree!


Sixteen year-old Kat Atkins has been shuffled through foster homes her whole life; but in The Middle of Nowhere, Oregon, Kat is placed with the perfect people. It could be magic--if Kat's "gift" doesn't get in the way. Because when a school prank goes fatally wrong, when Kat Sees it before it happens, she has a choice that could cost her the only thing she's ever wanted.

Unknown said...

I love the beekeeping thing. Last week, I accidentally stepped into a swarm of honeybees and didn't get a single sting!

Thanks for doing this contest. :)


When wings of a murdered faerie fetch big bucks on eBay, a teenage girl discovers her kind aren't only being oppressed--they're being hunted.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You are both awesome - thanks, ladies!

Here's my pitch:

Scott is a mischievous 3rd grader with a messy room, bad manners, and a mind set on fun. But when Daddy sends him off to the Naughty Boy Factory for some fixing, it's all or nothing - take a stand and risk an encounter with the robot security guards and the B.A.D. center or be transformed into the perfect mama’s boy.

Lacey J Edwards said...

I would chose "fly" too. Spent way too many hours in NYC traffic.

Pitch for GREYSKIN, YA paranormal.

All sixteen-year-old Charlie Waite wants is some excitement in her small town life, and for Jack O’Donnell, the older guy with a fast car and a knife in his boot, to notice her.
When Jack goes missing, Charlie gets way more than she bargained for. Thrust into the underground world of the supernatural where everyone has a hidden agenda and no one can be trusted, it’s up to her to rescue Jack from a vengeful voodoo sorcerer, before it's too late.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Great interview! Here's the pitch for my YA Paranormal novel PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES.

As seventeen-year-old Faith Daniels gradually pieces together the forgotten events that landed her on the neurosurgeon’s table, she becomes haunted by her past — literally. And there’s nothing worse than being stalked by a bunch of your dead classmates, except perhaps becoming one.

When Faith eventually recalls the details of the catastrophe that lead to these unexpected and ghostly class reunions — and the horrific realization of her brother’s involvement in the death of her friends — she must make a heart-wrenching decision: hide the truth (and continue to be pestered by ghosts) or betray her family.

Cheyanne said...

Here's a pitch from my YA, DEADBEAT:

Losing his virginity was supposed to be the best night of Jeremy's life - until the condom broke. Now his parents are pissed, and his girlfriend has gone mood-swing crazy, so Jeremy leaves her. He can be a deatbeat, he doesn't care - or can he?

Jess said...

I love MAUS, too. :)

My pitch is for YA urban fantasy, CHANNELING TROUBLE:

The Agency monitoring channelers (magic-users) needs teenage mind-controllor Ronnie Casate’s help to find out who is selling channeling secrets to the People United Against Channelers (Pukers). When she ruins the mission because someone gave her false info, she’s forced to run away from the very people who enlisted her – straight to Adrian Latham, a handsome Puker. Can Ronnie find the spies before the Agency takes her down, Adrian discovers she’s a channeler, or worse, she fails out of school for not showing up since the Agency interrupted her life?

Jess Tudor

Susan X Bradley said...

Great Interview. I'm now following both of you.

Here's my pitch for a 56k word YA mystery.

All sixteen year old math prodigy, Autumn, wants to do is read about serial killers and dream about becoming an FBI agent. When her older sister is murdered, she begins her own investigation using the techniques and forensics she’s read about. When the evidence points toward her sister’s boyfriend, Autumn offers herself up as bait by dating him and sets a dangerous trap to obtain his confession for her sister’s murder.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

holy crap yo guys - these are awesome pitches!!!! good luck! :)

Unknown said...

When Rachel falls for a hunky Civil War ghost, she's sure she's setting herself up for heartbreak. But when she finds herself facing death, her ghost comes back from the dead to save her. Now, the shadow people want to know how they cheated death.

Sara {Rhapsody and Chaos} said...

What a fun contest, Shelli! And a great interview with Bree =)

Here's my pitch for SHATTERED, a YA urban fantasy:

A girl who discovers she can move things with her mind falls in love with a boy who can fly--too bad his jackass parents want to steal their powers and rule the city.

H. Pinski said...

Great interview, great contest. Thanks, Shelli!


Calvin Price was a normal kid—until a mad scientist started borrowing his brain. He wears bow ties now, has developed a propensity to launch things in the cafeteria and in the course of a week has gone from being a kid so bland even the school bullies couldn’t be bothered with him, to the most wanton criminal ever to walk the halls of Clearmont Elementary.

Christina Lee said...

WOWEE-- great interview with Bree (who sounds sooo cool) and some great pitches here!

Here's mine:
Holding hands should be a rite of passage, except if you’re fifteen-year-old Callen Frasier, who sees a person’s death upon contact, and sometimes, even a murder.

C.R. Evers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C.R. Evers said...

Another insightful and awesome interview!

UNSEEN: YA fantasy

An escape slave encounters forbidden love and an unseen enemy,yet her greatest battle is knowing that a successful quest means becoming what she despises most.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great contest! Thanks, Shelli and Bree!

Joyce and Gina walked through the streets of Leek with little hope of getting picked, host families usually only took in one evacuee. With dirty clothes and matted hair their chances to stay together were slim to none. But then Phyllis and her Mum saw them…

Heidi Willis said...

These are amazing pitches! Makes me thankful I write women's fiction so I don't have to compete against them! :)

jpetroroy said...

Seventeen-year old Sally O'Brien has just left a residential treatment facility for eating disorders, having been deemed 'recovered.' But what happens after recovery, when Sally has to juggle a new crush, college pressures, her dad's unemployment, and all the self-esteem issues that led to her eating disorder in the first place? Can she hold back from the lure of relapse and finally discover who she really is?

Rebecca Gomez said...

Can't pass up this contest! Here's my pitch:

YA novel-in-verse

When 15-year-old Sharra's link with animals makes her the target of an invading army, she realizes that there is more to that link than she ever imagined and must quickly learn to use it against them--or be forced to use it against those she loves.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mame said...

Best of luck to all!

Claire Daniels and Toby Reed were never supposed to meet, but they have, and now one is fated to kill the other. Their fabricated destiny takes it's toll on the people they love, so it's up to them to stop the hands of death before everyone gets squeezed.

Unknown said...

I love pitch contests! Thanks Shelli for hosting this and thanks Bree for judging!

My pitch:

When reluctant sidekick Connor "The Temper" Thomas assumed the identity of his fallen superhero, he never expected an actual villain would come to town and put both his lie and his life in jeopardy. Unfortunately, Blaze Blitz is the real deal: ruthless, determined, diabolical-- and he has his sights set on Connor.

Kim said...

Thank you for giving us this opportunity. Here is my pitch:

Obsidian, the reluctant dragon king, receives instructions on how to survive his human experience and understands that if he violates the number one rule, “Don’t fall in love,” he will be stripped of the throne and die. Then, he meets Aspen.

Robyn Campbell said...

Hey Shelli! I get back at EXACTLY the right time, don't I? =)

I signed up for email subscription to Bree's blog. Also, following her on twitter.

Here's my pitch:

In their world, thirteen-year-old best friends, Anna (a diabetic) and Claire have almost perfect lives, until their world is blown apart. They're lost in the mountains--by themselves and darkness is coming.

Lauren Marie said...

Silk Skirts & Bluegrass

In 1986, after six aborted siblings one lucky little girl is born in a conservative southern city to an 18-year-old ex-model and recovering cocaine addict mother and her high school sweetheart whose entanglements in organized crime leave her with only a faint idea of what father means. She grows up alone inside her books, she falls in and out of love, she finds herself, she fucks, she writes, and she dreams of something better. This is a mixed vignette and free verse journey of life, love, sex, drugs, friendship and one woman searching for her place in a country where the primary emotion of my generation is disillusion.

Mindy Hardwick said...

Great interview!

Here's my pitch for a 293-word picture book:
Five-year-old Charlotte creates art…everywhere! But Charlotte’s family does not like her art…everywhere. So, Charlotte declares an “an art time out” and heads across the fields to Aunt Ellie’s cottage where messy is never bad, and the two can create art…everywhere. Best compared to Fancy Nancy and Eloise, the story celebrates the artist.

Unknown said...

What a great contest! Thanks. :)

Sixteen year-old time traveler Bree hates heading home empty-handed after she encounters a minor snag (and annoying boy) on a routine class assignment to the 21st century. Determined to finish what she started, she sneaks back to the past only to discover the boy is now three years older, smoking hot, and convinced Bree is in danger. Oh yeah, he's crazy about her, too --Bree's future self that is.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Thanks for running this contest!

Here is a pitch for my MG novel, Drats! Foiled Again!

No matter how bad he tries to be, Robert doesn’t fit the villain stereotype at Dark Academy, and his evil twin, Rupert, won’t let him forget it for a minute. He’s been tip-toeing the tight-wire between Good and Evil so long, Robert can’t remember the last time he took out the garbage, even though one right-eyed wink would see it done. When a formidable super villain crosses the line from evil to diabolical, Robert must choose at last where his loyalties lie, and how to use his growing powers, either to save himself, or everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Here's a pitch for my 84,000-word manuscript, THE SPECTER OF AVERY HILL:

In an ancient chamber beneath a haunted inn, a teenage girl helps a professional treasure hunter search for proof that medieval Celts settled in America, but has to defy him when she discovers the exploration endangers the mysterious boy she's falling for.

E. Kristin Anderson said...

What a great contest, Shelli! And of course, a lovely interview as well! Here's my pitch:

Myself Behind Myself is a story of obsession and loss, following high school senior and self-described “art freak” Jody Newmeyer as she writes a GPA-determining history paper on her Iraq-vet ex, trying to keep her project a secret from her loyal boyfriend, her long-time best friend, and even her family

Amber Keyser said...

"Give any boy a stick and some string, and I’ll bet he comes up with a bow."

"Esmé’s Bow" is a middle-grade adventure novel about friendship, a father’s betrayal, and the discovery that true heroism is about commitment to the ones we love. It reads like a Gary Paulsen survival story with a first-person narrator, Liam, who self-deprecating and funny like Percy Jackson but with more self-doubt and less camp.

Rebecca Mahoney said...

All right, I'll give it a go! This is my YA urban fantasy novel GRANDMASTER DRAW.

When fourteen-year-old Liam walks through a door no one else can see, he finds a dark forest that never ends, and a woman named Mary with a pretty face and rows of sharp teeth. She helps him escape, but in return, he must play the king in her chess game - but Liam quickly learns that in chess, the only thing the king controls is when the game ends.

Jessie Oliveros said...

When sixteen year-old Tess visits Belize, she travels back in time to a fifteenth century Mayan city that is under a deadly curse. She discovers it is up to her to stop the ancient Mayan end-of-time prophecy from being fulfilled, but can she betray the Spanish soldier she is falling in love with to prevent the pending Armageddon?