The Cupcake Plan by Ana Maria Visinoni-Davidov
In THE CUPCAKE PLAN, a contemporary YA comedy complete at 65,000 words, slacker high school rocker Zach Pembrook is mistaken as a scientific genius and resolves to fight back for his reputation and self-respect.
Zach’s never come anywhere even close to fame before and right now he’s got the entire world believing he is the greatest bio-decoder ever. While everyone is busy dissecting and over-analyzing the lyrics to the shockingly nerdy song that made him an overnight sensation – instead of downloading and buying the thing – Zach teams up with the dubious up-and-coming business magnate and Malibu High jock Thomas, determined to make the best of his fifteen minutes in the spotlight. Zach’s aim: to make enough money to either lure music producers his way or, worst case scenario, start his own record label and market his music himself.
All the while, actual scientists are keen on publicly proving Zach is a fraud. Tessa, Zach’s agitated sister, also wants Zach’s farce to come to an end. Zach rocks the max out of in his celebrity status until his business endeavors with Thomas explode in scandal and a child gangster armed with a gun steps into his life.
When there’s nothing left to lose, Zach draws inspiration from his favorite treat on Earth and devises a surefire plan to set things straight again because no matter what’s happened to him, life is sweet.
The Book Doctors:
We really like the mistaken genius idea. And the fact that you put it in Malibu High. We can so see this as a TV series. We’re a little unclear though, what is Zach’s favorite treat on Earth? And we don’t want to know that everything turns out okay in the end. we want you to lead us to believe that everything is going to go wrong. Is there no love story in this book? It would be great if there was. And give us a little more description of the child gangster. It’s a very cool idea, but we couldn’t quite see it in our heads. We also really don’t quite get a sense of the action of the plot. Show us some word pictures of his YouTube video or the way kids treat him at school now that he’s a big sensation. We don’t get enough sense of how his journey from zero to hero changes him. And we don’t get a sense of the arc of this character.
The Asylum by Rebecca Ansari
The only thing more mysterious than the disappearance of Charlie and Ana’s siblings is the fact that no one other than the 12-year-old best friends even seems to notice. Every trace of Lily and Finn vanished with them – family photos diminished by one, carpet stains lifted, the baseball-cracked hallway mirror now flawless. Most disturbing are the blank and confused stares from their parents any time they bring up the subject. Charlie finds it hard to look for answers in a world full of adults that think he and Ana are either over-imaginative or downright delusional. But when Jonathon, their new 17-year-old baseball coach, catches wind of Charlie and Ana’s search, he not only believes them, he claims to know exactly where Lily and Finn are – and why they are there. With Jonathon’s help, Charlie and Ana can follow the same path as their siblings, possibly restoring the lives they used to have. They know Jonathon has no idea how to get them all back home. What they don’t know is that The Asylum’s keeper has no intention of letting them go.
The Book Doctors:
We like this pitch because it’s unexpected. And mysterious. The siblings just disappear, and no one remembers that they even existed. We like the detail that they’ve vanished from the family photos, and that the hallway mirror is suddenly not cracked anymore. Good details! We don’t know enough about our hero. We want you to show us inside him–how confused and sad and determined he is. We like this character Jonathan, but we’d like to know a little bit more about him, too. We do think it’s a little weird that The Asylum’s keeper just appears out of nowhere at the very end. It is mysterious, but it just doesn’t send a chill down my spine that it should because it’s out of left field. I want more of a sense of who they are and what their intentions are.
The Option To Be by Meghan K. Strapec
I’m not writing this of my own free will. You’re probably wondering how someone could be forced to write something like this. I was wondering that myself, and I made it pretty clear that I thought it was a fantastically stupid idea, but that only got me in more trouble. If you get yourself into enough trouble, they can force you to do almost anything to get out of it, assuming you want to. And I do. I didn’t really mean to get into it in the first place, but that’s just how my life works.
When you grow up in middle-of-nowhere Ohio, anything outside your God-forsaken, piece-of-crap town sounds exciting, especially when that thing is leaving for college two years early. But when you come from a backwards place with a mother who forgets you exist and a father you’re not willing to mention in polite company (or any company), it’s hard to start fresh. You’ll try pretty hard, but sanity hasn’t come easy since Noah left. And after the eighty-seventh person calls you crazy, you might just be driven to get yourself into some trouble with the dean that leaves the entire university talking, whether or not they’ve got the facts right.
THE OPTION TO BE is a YA epistolary novel about becoming who you are instead of what has happened to you and offers comedy, empathy, and hope to the awkward outcast in all of us.
The Book Doctors:
We like the voice in this pitch very much. We really get a sense of what it will feel like to read the book. We also love the first sentence of this pitch. But we think the opening paragraph meanders a little bit after that. We’re not that interested in you speculating about what we’re wondering about. We want more facts about the situation. We are also very confused as to what’s the plot of your book. Part of the problem is that you use the second person. This makes it difficult to see what the action is that moves the story forward. What does this person do so that everyone calls him crazy? You tell me in the last sentence that there is comedy in your book, but I don’t see anything really funny in the pitch. I also see no comparable titles here, and I think this would serve you very well.
The Mirror by Lauren Harsma & Kate Dias
The mapmaker crushed the shard with his heel. The silver sand of it ground into the sole of his boot; the grit of his bottom molars ground into the faces of his top ones. His face was a ruby, the whites of his eyes the tan of the flesh of a nut as he gripped his foot in his palm and stared at the sole. For a few moments: nothing.
Then, in a celestial swirl, the glass rose up and plunged down to meet the glittering residue on the floor. The particles swarmed like bees, brotherly, and knit themselves back together into a flawless shard of mirror. Miles continued holding onto his foot, staring at the sliver of glass with his walnut eyes. He’d have to start again.
– – –
It wouldn’t stay shattered, so it had to be scattered. Broken into a hundred pieces, put into a hundred boxes, scattered into a hundred worlds, the Mirror remained a vengeful, dark thing, but it wasn’t whole.
A cartographer and a pirate captain must align themselves with artisans, riders, and rogues to spread the shards of the mirror across the world and over the years to keep it from reforming and wreaking havoc on the lives of everyone it encounters. But as they battle an ethereal evil, they’re being unwittingly pursued by a more corporeal one…
The Book Doctors:
We like how this pitch starts. We see the kind of magic you are going to be bringing us, and we get a sense of your style is a writer. But some of your writing feels a bit awkward. “the whites of his eyes the tan of the flesh of a nut” What exactly are you describing that is colored the tan of the flesh of a nut? We really don’t see a plot here. Or a hero who we know and love and are rooting for. A cartographer and a pirate captain are interesting, but we need more because we don’t leave the pitch I’m invested in them. And what is the nature of the evil, apart from ethereal? We need more of a description of this evil thing, so that it makes us shiver in dread. We also don’t really understand what the mirror does, what is the result of its vengeful darkness?
Body Parts by Jessica Hoefer
People would kill for her body. At least that’s what her trainers told her. But what 16-year-old Tabitha doesn’t realize is that’s exactly what they plan to do.
For the last decade, Tabitha has been part of an elite foster program molding kids into the epitome of health. She doesn’t know the island community outside her training facility is full of scientists who create drugs that can grow hair, erase wrinkles and give people superhuman strength. While citizens line up for pills, Tabitha waits for the day when she’ll be matched with a family longing for a disciplined, healthy teenage girl. But when she’s finally paired, instead of being taken to a loving home, she wakes up immobile on a hospital bed.
Moments before she’s sliced open for body parts, Tabitha’s rescued by a group of renegade teenagers and learns the real reason she’s been kept in perfect health. PharmWorld, the drug company that owns the foster home, is using her as a replacement factory for clients with failing organs. What’s worse, the only true family she’s ever known, her friends from the foster program, are also in danger.
Determined to save them, she joins the rescue team led by moody and mysterious Gavin Stiles. But when she finds out his dad is a scientist, she wonders what other secrets Gavin might be keeping—and if trusting him will put the entire team in jeopardy.
Complete at 93,000 words, Body Parts would appeal to readers of Neal Shusterman’s Unwind series.
The Book Doctors:
This is a very cool story. It is familiar, yet it’s unique, and again, this is what publishers, agents and readers are looking for. The double meaning in the first sentence is terrific. It gives us great confidence that you know how to turn a phrase. Again, rather than just telling us she has a body people would kill for, We’d like some description as well. We would also like to know if there’s any romance between the heroine and this moody and mysterious young man. If there is, it sure would help. The end is almost there, but instead of her team being put in jeopardy, we’d like you to tell us what the worst-case scenario might be. In graphic and visual terms. I don’t get enough sense of the environment, the place, the setting of your book. But overall a very nice pitch.
Spy Act by Keri Culver
MI6 operative Nathalie Qadir has the head of a terrorist financing organisation in her sights. But she’s bound and shackled on a cargo plane somewhere over eastern Turkey, and mocking her captors hasn’t gotten her anywhere.
After indulging briefly in self-pity and desolation (of the “Oh heavens, I’m going to die” variety), she hears an adamant voice in her head. This isn’t over, the voice says. You’ll survive, all right, and this time you’ll stop the organisation for good.
She doesn’t know yet that her boss at MI6 has set up an ambush at the landing point, ready to steal the plane’s cargo and kill everyone inside – including her. But it’s better she doesn’t know. If she did, she would certainly leave the Service.
And what then? Go back to styling hair and acting in community theatre? That Nathalie died eight years ago, when she unwittingly aided a group of young Arab men (“my boys,” she had called them) in their three-pronged suicide attack on her native London. The little voice that had saved her then was just as insistent today: quit whinging, find a way out, and, for God’s sake, stop the next attack.
The little voice will have to get her through that ambush, too.
Spy Act is complete at 78,000 words. Fans of spy classics like 007 or Le Carré will barely recognise Nathalie’s 21st-century espionage, unless they can imagine Smiley crossed with one of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels.
The Book Doctors:
This is a really fun idea for a book and you clearly know the genre. We like your character by the end of the first paragraph and that’s really hard to do. But the pitch feels a little flat to us. It reads a bit like a book report. Your first sentence should be super exciting, but we don’t feel any real danger there. Like you’re describing action instead of showing it, and putting us in the middle of it. We don’t get a full enough sense of what the plot is and the twists contained therein. So the story feels a bit thin. You’re on the right track with your comparable titles, but Janet Evanovitch, James Bond and Le Carre are so giant that they can do more harm than good. It would be better if you dug down further into spy category to trot out how very much about the category you know. This kind of knowledge impresses agents and publishers and gives them the confidence that you know where your book fits on the shelf.
The Law Around These Parts by August Samuel Evrard
There is a planet out there that nobody wants to own. It’s been conquered, terraformed, deterraformed, exodused, colonized, armageddoned, recolonized, reterraformed, invaded again, turned into a prison, liberated, invaded again, become a drug factory, become a refugee camp, invaded again, and finally given up on. Oxygen’s not that valuable. This planet has a galactic registration, but everyone just calls it the Hole: home to drug kingpins, terrorists, mad scientists, corporate lenders, warmongers, weapons manufactors, and far, far too many refugees. Paid gangs police apocalyptic city streets while interstellar mercenaries wage politely secret wars and government agents help move the drugs that everyone wants, but won’t admit to using. Many have tried to own the land, to send their own police, even to turn the surface to black glass. Each has failed.
Harima Martina Lunch is a Detroit cop with a past. She’s been fired, rehired, shot, stabbed, broken, rebuilt, blown up, fired, rehired, sentenced to death, pardoned, fired, rehired, celebrated as a hero, burned, blown up again, and convicted of most crimes on the book. (But those last ones were all when she was a minor. That record’s sealed.) It’s not until she plays a crooked politician at his own game that she loses, and bad.
You can probably begin to guess where this is going.
One woman is sent to plant the flag, and make sure it stays waving. If it stays for ten years, she’s free to go.
Sheriff Lunch is:
The Law Around These Parts.
The Book Doctors:
We can tell from this pitch that you are a good writer. We love that first list. It’s wonderful! And you give us a real sense of location. Love the nickname of the planet: the Hole. It also has a very interesting Total Recall, Philip K Dick thing going for it, which we like. But look at how long it takes in the pitch to get to our heroine? She’s terrific once we get to her, but she needs to be moved up. You can still use everything you have beforehand, but the two can be folded together. We also couldn’t quite guess where this was going or what the plot is. This pitch centers pretty much on premise only. Most pitches (at least those intended for agents and editors) need to take us at least halfway through the book, and often two-thirds of the way through.
If I Dare by Bárbara Thomé
It’s Prudence Crawford’s sixteenth birthday, but instead of having a party, she gets to meet a creepy guy named Jeffrey Han, to help organize a new deal for her father – crime boss Lionel “The Enforcer” Crawford.
Prudence can’t stomach being a part of the family’s business, but she loves her father, and disobeying him isn’t something she dares to do. That is, until she inadvertently falls in love with Logan, the mysterious boy behind intense blue eyes who gives her the birthday celebration she has never had. Prudence has a strange connection with Logan, and by the time she finds out Logan is the heir of the Montgomery family, it’s too late, and she can’t seem to stay away from him.
The Montgomerys are one of the five families which, along with the Crawfords, split San Francisco among themselves, forming the Crime Cartel. Except the Montgomerys and the Crawfords are sworn enemies, and the peace agreement that has prevented war amid the families may easily be breached.
Now Prudence has to choose between true love and family, a choice made more dangerous by the involvement of members of the organized crime, her father’s pressing new deal and her continuous meetings with Jeffrey Han. When every person around you is ready to fight and carries a gun, it’s hard to know who to trust. Prudence must figure that out, and fast, before the lives of everyone she cares about are at risk.
In Prudence’s story, Romeo and Juliet meets The Godfather.
The Book Doctors:
We love the idea of this book–the starcrossed lovers of Romeo and Juliet and the organized crime of the Godfather. Fabulous mix! But we don’t quite get a sense of your voice in this pitch. It all feels generic. At the beginning of the pitch, you tell us our heroine is around some guy who’s creepy. We don’t know what that means. Show us with word pictures. Dazzle me with your ability to put words together to show me a creepy guy in a way we’ve never seen before. And try to avoid clichés like, “intense blue eyes”. Again, this is your opportunity to dazzle us with what a brilliant writer you are. In many cases, the pitch is the only piece of writing agents/editors will see because if they don’t like your pitch, they won’t ask for me. Lastly, your stakes are really high, but there’s not enough detail at the end to give us a sense of just what kind of danger she’s in. Gives us some deets!
The Night Butterflies by Sara Litchfield
In a dark, poisonous, post-apocalyptic world, the surviving community of a university town in England is divided. The Men separate from society and make their home The Facility, where they develop medication to combat the radiation that would otherwise kill those left alive.
Ellie and Danny are products of Project Eden, an operation devised by Leader for the survival and betterment of the human race through engineering of the next generation, seeded in The Mothers without their consent.
Looked upon as a failed experiment, the first batch of mutated babies is burned. Ellie is confined to life in a bunker – the sole, secret survivor of the burning. The Batch-2 triplets that follow are perfectly formed but impossible to control. Danny is different from the rest. Seeking to learn why, he accidentally uncovers Ellie’s existence. When The Men come for Ellie’s Mother, her last act is to send the pair of ‘monsters’ into hiding.
But when the triplets develop disturbing abilities that sign their own death warrant and the cull begins, can Danny and Ellie remain on the run? Or will they be forced to turn back and fight the system that brought them into existence?
The Book Doctors: I just can’t tell you how many stories we get about “dark, poisonous, post-apocalyptic worlds”. Those words have become clichés. We’ve seen them so many times that you have to prove to us right from the beginning that yours is going to be different, unique, and shows things we’ve never seen before. Much better to show specific word images of what this world looks like. Build this world for us. This is all the more important because the marketplace is so saturated on this shelf right now. That said, we do like this idea of genetically engineered babies–Project Eden–that’s cool. And the fact that the first batch of mutated babies is burned. That’s really creepy in the best sense. And that these triplets have some kind of abilities is very interesting, but you don’t give us some kind of clue as to what those abilities might be. We can’t see it in our mind’s eye. And we’re not quite sure who these heroes are that we’re rooting for. You don’t give us enough of a glimpse into Danny and Ellie for us to fall in love with them.
A Tree of Pearls by Tiffany Vora
More than 1000 years after Cleopatra, a ruthless Islamic queen fights to rule Egypt on her own terms … .
In 1249, the dying sultan entrusts his empire to his beautiful wife, Shajar al-Durr. Determined to protect her power and her life, Shajar conceals his death and draws three ferocious war leaders, all former slaves and foreigners like herself, into a deadly conspiracy against the head of a powerful, ancient Egyptian family. But when the sultan’s heir by another woman arrives to confront the Crusaders, Shajar discovers that she alone can safeguard Egypt against invasion and genocide.
Facing threats to her rule from all sides, the world’s only Sultana is torn between her dangerous passion for her husband’s dashing confidante and a political marriage with a rival that would cement her place in a man’s world. Worse, a terrifying enemy approaches from the east, leaving mountains of skulls in its wake. In the midst of a murderous intrigue stretching from the sands of the Silk Road to the blood-soaked banks of the Nile to the opulent palaces and perilous alleyways of medieval Cairo, Shajar longs to share her ambitions – and her heart. But who can she trust?
The Book Doctors:
This book has a lot on its mind that is of lots of interest. We particularly like the themes of this book: femininity, motherhood and ambition in the last real-life queen of Egypt. Anne Boleyn and One Thousand and One Nights. We haven’t seen those ideas put together like this yet. There’s also a lot at stake, right from the beginning, in this book. There’s a great love triangle. But we would like more sense of your voice in this pitch. For example, we don’t like the phrase “dashing confidante”. That’s an example of where we believe the language settles for the ordinary instead of wowing us with how beautifully you can put together words. You’re also taking us to an extraordinary world. Please show us more about this world. Instead of saying “opulent palaces” let us know what this opulence is made up of. Instead of “perilous alleyways” let us know what’s in these alleyways.
In A TREE OF PEARLS, Tiffany Vora explores femininity, motherhood, and ambition through the enthralling story of the last real-life queen of Egypt. Complete at 100,000 words, this work of historical fiction transports the world-shaking audacity of Anne Boleyn into the exotic splendor of “One Thousand and One Nights.”