My Pitch Wars Wishlist for 2021

September 11, 2021

Pitch Wars is Coming!

New to Pitch Wars or have questions about how it works? Check out the Pitch Wars website.
Here’s the official description:

Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine for an agent showcase. The mentor also helps edit their mentee’s pitch for the contest and their query letter for submitting to agents.

I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2014 (shout out to my awesome mentors Monica B. Wagner & Lindsey Sprague) and it was such an amazing learning experience for me. They helped me get my query and MS into shape and offered invaluable insight and feedback at every step along the way. I’ve since signed with my dream agent (Kim Lionetti from BookEnds Literary Agency) and sold seven books to Inkyard Press (HarperCollins) and Delacorte/Underlined (Penguin Random House), including the book I submitted to Pitch Wars If I Fix You. My other books include:

2021 marks my fourth year as a Pitch Wars mentor. My previous mentees include Madison Packer, Sammi Spizziri, who is represented by Jacqui Lipton at Raven Literary, and Rebecca Rode, whose Pitch Wars book, TIDES OF MUTINY, was just published by Little, Brown)! I cannot wait to team up with another author this year.

About Me

Abigail Johnson was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snowstorms for year-round summers and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip in a purple spiral-bound notebook that she still has, and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high-school production of Cinderella, and riding roller coasters every chance she gets. She is the author of several young adult novels including If I Fix You and Every Other Weekend.

Learn more on the About page or visit the FAQ page.

What I’m Looking For

YA! I write YA (Contemporary and Thriller) but I’m open to most YA genres. Here are a few things I’d love to see in any combination:

Romance! I’m always looking for a love story in just about every genre I read. It doesn’t have to be the central focus of the book but a little romance is never a bad thing as far as I’m concerned. I’m a sucker for a good rom-com with smart and funny characters, flirty banter, tropes galore, and plenty of swoons (think Kasie West, Becky Wallace, Emiko Jean, Debbie Rigaud, Lynn Painter, and Jenny Han).

I also love Contemporary stories where, if there’s romance, it’s part of a bigger story! Give me books with complicated family relationships, real-life problems, and resilient protagonists (think Deb Caletti, Renée Watson, Jeff Zentner, Jason Reynolds, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, and, well, me).

I’m craving a good Thriller! I’m a huge fan of action-adventure or survival stories, something with plenty of suspense, intrigue, or even a dystopian twist. Pacing is key in stories like this, so bring on those cliffhanger chapter endings and maybe a dash–or more–of romance (think Holly Jackson, Anna Carey, April Henry, Kim Liggett, and my book GIRL ON THE RUN)!

And even though I write contemporary stories, I read a TON of Sci-fi and Fantasy (I chose an alternate history pirate fantasy my first year as a mentor) including Magical Realism, Speculative Fiction, and Retellings (think Marissa Meyer, Andy Weir, Leigh Bardugo, Margaret Rogerson, Joanna Ruth Meyers, and Tricia Levenseller).

Have you written about vampires and things that go bump in the night? I’m looking for Paranormal/Urban Fantasy in the vein of Twilight/Buffy. I re-read and rewatched all the Twilight books & movies after reading Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer and I’m re-watching Buffy & Angel right now before In Every Generation by Kendare Blake comes out next year. I’m excited to find fresh new takes on supernatural stories (think Jennifer L. Armentrout, Stephenie Meyer, L.L. Mckinney, Cassandra Clare, and Richelle Mead).

As a wheelchair user, I’m very excited to see characters with visible Disabilities in stories that focus on more than just disability (see the What I’m NOT Looking For section below for more on this). I’d love to see disabled characters in all the genres listed above (really any genre) doing the same kind of things that able-bodied characters do (falling in love, experiencing heartbreak, dealing with family/friend struggles, exploring mysteries or action-packed adventures, maybe encountering an alien, magic, vampires or becoming one themselves)! Check out the description for my upcoming Contemporary YA, EVERY TIME YOU GO AWAY. for an example.

Some of my favorite (mostly) YA authors (in no particular order) include:

Sarah Dessen, Holly Jackson, Jason Reynolds, Tamara Ireland Stone, Jeff Zentner, Rainbow Rowell, Renée Watson, Robin Roe, Emiko Jean, Katie McGarry, John Green, Deb Caletti, Becky Wallace, Jenny Han, Kasie West, Stephenie Meyer, Debbie Rigaud, Joanna Ruth Meyers, A.S. King, Suzanne Young, Lynn Painter, E. Lockhart, Margaret Rogerson, Leigh Bardugo, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Tricia Levenseller, Diana Gabaldon, Ilona Andrews, Jennifer A. Nielsen, Mindy McGinnis, Maggie Stiefvater, Andy Weir, and Marissa Meyer.

Want to see more of the kinds of books I like and why?
I post weekly book recommendations with mini-reviews on my Instagram @abigailjohnsonya.

What I’m NOT Looking For

I’m generally not the ideal reader for stories that involve reincarnation, amnesia, politics, self-harm, suicide, rape, or horror/torture elements.

I mentioned that I’d like to see stories featuring characters with visible disabilities but I’m not interested in stories that are only about disability. I’m also not the reader for stories where disabled characters are inspirational footnotes in the lives of able-bodied characters or where disabled characters kill themselves.

I tend to prefer stories with a single or dual point of view.

I’m also not accepting New Adult.

What To Expect From Me As A Mentor

I love this process, I just do. I still can’t believe I get to be a mentor and help writers the way others helped me. So what can you expect from me as a mentor? I’m prompt and thorough. I will be your cheerleader and I’ll help you however I can, but I’ll also tell you honestly if something isn’t working for me and I’ll make suggestions that you can take or not because this is YOUR book. I’ll help you brainstorm solutions if you want or be a sounding board if you need it. I will never impose my opinion on you but I will explain why I think something needs work/further attention. I’ll help you polish/fix/rewrite your query letter and help you with your synopsis (I LOVE writing synopses). I’ll be providing a ‘Big Picture’ letter based on my first read of your MS, then further edits, including line edits, as we go. I’ll plan on reading your MS several times and working with you until it’s as shiny as possible.

I like to set up a video chat, if possible, for our first “meeting” so we can talk over your manuscript and my edit letter (which you’ll already have). After that, I’ll probably communicate primarily via email (unless we decide on something else). I most likely won’t bombard you with emails once we have a good revision plan in place beyond quick check-ins to make sure everything is going well, but I will always be quick to reply any time you reach out for any reason. Of course, we can figure out a communication style/schedule that works best for us, this is just typically what has worked with previous mentees.

What I’m Looking For In A Mentee

I’m looking for someone who is prompt and reliable, someone with drive and dedication who can take constructive criticism and meet a deadline. I plan on giving 100% to my mentee and I want the same in return.

Tweet me @Abigailswriting or DM me on Instagram @abigailjohnsonya

Head back to the Pitch Wars post to see the complete list of mentor wishlists or click through the links below.

Pitch Wars 2021 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Mary E. Roach (Accepts NA)
  2. Amelia Diane Coombs (Accepts NA)
  3. Diana Urban
  4. Susan Bishop Crispell (Accepts NA)
  5. TJ Ohler (Accepts NA)
  6. Laurie Dennison (Accepts NA)
  7. Justine Pucella Winans (Accepts NA)
  8. Zoulfa Katouh and Molly X Chang (Accepts NA)
  9. Sonora Reyes (Accepts NA)
  10. Abigail Johnson
  11. Rosiee Thor and Emily Grey
  12. Carlyn Greenwald (Accepts NA)
  13. M.T. Khan (Accepts NA)
  14. Sarvenaz Taghavian
  15. Emery Lee
  16. Margie Fuston (Accepts NA)
  17. Aashna Avachat (Accepts NA)
  18. Allison Saft (Accepts NA)
  19. Fiona McLaren
  20. Jessica Lewis
  21. Brianna Bourne (Accepts NA)
  22. Jamie McHenry
  23. Meg Long and Rochelle Hassan (Accepts NA)
  24. Laura Weymouth (Accepts NA)
  25. Natalie Crown and Angelica Monai (Accepts NA)
  26. Skyla Arndt and Alex Brown (Accepts NA)
  27. Charity Alyse and Cimone Watson (Accepts NA)
  28. Emily Thiede and Lauren Blackwood (Accepts NA)
  29. Anna Sortino and Annika J. Cosgrove (Accepts NA)
  30. Jenny Perinovic and Kyrie McCauley (Accepts NA)
  31. Carrie S. Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
  32. Jamie Howard and Meredith Tate (Accepts NA)
  33. KL Burd (Accepts NA)
  34. Jennifer Yu (Accepts NA)
  35. Hoda Agharazi and Lyssa Mia Smith (Accepts NA)
  36. Em X. Liu and Grace D. Li (Accepts NA)
  37. Carly Heath (Accepts NA)
  38. Kiana Krystle (Accepts NA)
  39. Sarah Underwood and Kat Dunn (Accepts NA)
  40. Joel Brigham (Accepts NA)
  41. Dante Medema and Liz Lawson (Accepts NA)
  42. Aty S. Behsam and Maedeh B. Saaina (Accepts NA)
  43. Kylie Schachte (Accepts NA)
  44. Gabi Burton (Accepts NA)
  45. Aaron Cole and Tamara Cole (Accepts NA)
  46. Hannah V. Sawyerr and Olivia Liu (Accepts NA)
  47. Bethany Mangle (Accepts NA)
  48. Lane Clarke (Accepts NA)
  49. Sunya Mara (Accepts NA)
  50. Karen Bao (Accepts NA)

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2021 Mentors’ Wish Lists. To view the wish lists by genre, visit this link.

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About Abigail

Abigail Johnson was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snowstorms for year-round summers and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip in a purple spiral-bound notebook that she still has, and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high-school production of Cinderella, and riding roller coasters every chance she gets. She is the author of several young adult novels including If I Fix You and Every Other Weekend. She is represented by Kim Lionetti at BookEnds Literary Agency.

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