Pitch Wars 2019 Wishlist

I am participating in Pitch Wars this year. Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months 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. If you’re reading this because you’re a fan of mine, then hopefully you’ll become a fan of my mentee once this whole process is over. And if you’re reading this because you hope to become that mentee, then here’s my wishlist!

Who I Am: My name is Tim Akers, and I write fantasy and science fiction. Over the last ten years I’ve published six novels, about a dozen short stories, and written nearly 100k words of material for various games, including Pathfinder, Malifaux, Wild West Exodus, and the Midgard setting for 5e. My first three novels were steampunk noir, mixed with a healthy dose of New Weird strangeness. My last three books form the Hallowed War trilogy, and are epic fantasy as influenced by Miyazaki, the Final Fantasy series, and a childhood fascination with knights and druids. I am represented by Joshua Bilmes of the JABberwocky Literary Agency.

What I’m Looking For: While I read broadly, I have focused my writing skills on producing entertaining, commercially viable stories that are fun and satisfying to the reader. For the purposes of this wishlist, I will only be accepting Adult pitches. For Fantasy, I’m open to epic fantasy, portal fantasy, low magic hijinks, sword & sorcery, steampunk, and New Weird. For Science Fiction, send me cyberpunk, space opera, milsf, and clever near future work that falls outside the typical climate change dystopia.

What I’m Not Looking For: Erotica, re-hashes of established tropes, a narration of your last D&D game, or time travel unless it’s particularly clever (See Hurley’s Light Brigade for a sterling example). Fantasy is a genre that depends on established tropes, but in order to stand out from the crowd you need to do something interesting with them. That doesn’t mean “the exact opposite of what’s expected”, because that’s not interesting, it’s just the opposite.

Caveats: If I think you’re good enough of a writer to be my mentee, it also means that I think you’re good enough of a writer to face hard criticism. I edit honestly, and directly. Writing is a difficult business, because writers put a lot of themselves into their work, and when that work is criticized it’s very easy to feel attacked. If I’m your mentor, I’m going to work hard to make your book the best it can be, but that means I’m going to take a knife to it. It’s going to be messy. If you don’t think you can face that, then save yourself the heartache and submit elsewhere. But if you seriously want to be a better writer, then I think we can work together.

Reading Lists: Here’s a comp list to give you an idea of the sort of books I enjoy.

Fantasy: The Dragon and the Coin series by Daniel Abraham, Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, The Red Knight by Miles Cameron, Name of the Wind by Pat Rothfuss, Blood of Ambrose by James Enge, The Scar by China Mieville, Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith, The Thousand Names by Django Wexler, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin, The Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb.

Science Fiction: The Expanse series by James SA Corey, Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan, Outriders by Jay Posey, Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos.

Final Notes: This is my first time serving as a PW Mentor. I don’t yet have best practices in place for reading submissions. If you submit to me, please be patient. Know that I’m going to give all the submissions my full attention and, if I choose you as my mentee, know also that I’m going to give your manuscript the same care with which I handle my own work.

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Thanks for your interest!

5 Responses to “Pitch Wars 2019 Wishlist”

  1. Hannah

    Hey Tim! As a fellow epic fantasy writer/enthusiast, I was wondering: what are your thoughts on monster manuscripts? (In my case, around 200k) Would that be a straight no for you as a Pitch Wars mentor, given the time constraints ? In my case, I’d be more than willing to take a chainsaw to the thing, though the problem seems to be getting to the point where someone TELLS me where to use said chainsaw. I realize 200k+ can be seriously intimidating for betas, editors, and publishers alike and was also curious if you have any tips for shaving behemoth manuscripts down? An author at a workshop I attended recently suggested splitting the thing in two, for example, though some things are easier said than done. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!

    • Tim Akers

      Welcome to the joy of epic fantasy. The average manuscript is around 160k words, which makes them a little unwieldy for new authors to master, because it takes so long to write you’re probably a better writer at the middle of the book than you were at the beginning, and better again at the end. Plus if you really screw up the beginning it’s a more monumental task to correct than for a shorter (say 80k) novel.

      That said, I would recommend against cutting it in half. The form requires longer narratives. Without reading what you have it’s difficult to say what the solution is, but you’re probably looking at cutting down to ~120k and then working your way back up from there. But that length wouldn’t stand as an obstacle to your application.

      • Hannah

        Awesome, thanks! Good to know. And your comments really resonate, haha. This is my fifth draft of this particular manuscript, and I definitely went through exactly what you describe in the original drafts. It was like the same manuscript was written by three different people.

        Ah, the joys of being an aspiring epic fantasy writer. XD

  2. Michael V. Colianna

    Ah! The Thousand Names was so good! Have you read the rest of the series?

    • Tim Akers

      I read book two and quite enjoyed it. Book three is sitting on my tbr pile. My endless, endless tbr pile.

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