My wish list is here: http://yabookcase.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/mentor-wish-lists-pitch-wars.html
If you fall within my wish list categories, then read on to find out what will really rock my boat!
1) Regardless of genre, a little bit of mystery in the opening goes a long way. Tease me with something. Give me just enough to follow the thread to see where it leads.
2) Keep your writing tight. Eliminate passive writing, "that", "very", and a whole stack of adjectives and adverbs. Taking extra time to study your craft will help immensely.
3) Make your query straight forward and simple. Character + Conflict + Stakes.
4) Quirky, unique characters. Stereotypes turned on their heads. I want someone mentally fascinating. Good people who make bad decisions for the right reasons. Bad people who make good decisions for the wrong reason. Mix it up!
5) Read your work out loud and check how it flows. I WILL be reading your work out loud, so if it doesn't flow, I'll know!
6) Tell me why you want me to be your mentor. Don't blow smoke up my ass. I want concrete reasons why we would work well together.
7) Do your homework. Give me a comparison title in your query. Let me know where you see your work sitting on the bookshelf. And don't worry if I don't agree, my job is to help get you there.
8) Don't get description heavy (unless you're Historical, in which you have some leeway). Pick unique details to paint your world. Don't bombard me with the whole painting. I want to fill in some brushstrokes in my mind, too.
9) Start somewhere interesting. And I don't mean a huge action scene. I mean the moment when something changes for your MC. Inciting incident. If you don't know what this is, ask.
10) Show me you cared enough to find out more about the mentor you are submitting to than just blind "that'll do". Normally, when you query an agent, you would personalise the query. I expect the same. So, in light of that, anyone who has been dedicated enough to read this post, if you tag the word "Banana" at the end of your query, I'm gonna throw up a full 1st chapter critique on your work if you're not my winning entry.
I know the contest can make it feel like there's a lot of work to do, and, truth be told, there is. The same amount of work it takes to query an agent. But here's the rub, this writing gig is a hard, hard slog and if you're not prepared to put in the graft, then you're going to be disappointed.
I look forward to your queries and I can't wait to get to know all you wonderful writers! Happy subbing!!