#Team Smarties – Can You Survive The Study?

A murder most foul has taken place in the literary world, and it is up to our slush readers, host and co-hosts to ferret out the offending culprits, and put them up for agent interrogation.  Hot on the trail of those who fit the profile is #TeamSmarties – the smartest, most writing hungry, market savvy team on the Clue block.  #TeamSmarties can be found sneaking around the Study, where all good books reside and all aspects are studied – writing style, concept, pitch and marketability.  We’ve studied our agents, so we know just what they’re looking for.

Let’ me introduce you to the team:


Leading the team is host Sharon Johnston.  Smart as a whip, quick as a flick of a match, Sharon only picks the best of the best.  The shining diamond buried within a mound of gold.  If anyone can catch a sparkling gem, she can.


Tenacious and thorough, Fiona McLaren has an eagle eye for beautiful prose and fresh concepts, and works as co-host on #TeamSmarties.  Great discoveries will not go unfound!


 Meagan Rivers and Lauren McKeller are the support readers for #TeamSmarties and will be analyzing each and every submissions that comes through the Study.  They have exacting, high standards and will study each submission carefully, with a professionally trained eye.

Now, here’s a few sneaky tips from me in how to catch my eye in Pitch Madness.  But remember, you have the host and the support readers to impress too.  Right, let’s get on to these tips:

*  I will ONLY pick pitches with character, goal, and conflict, and stakes.  ONLY.  I don’t care how pretty your wording is, if I don’t know who I am going to read about, what their goal is, what stands in their way, and what they stand to lose, then I’m NOT going to choose your pitch.  Full stop.  (this is called tough love).

*  Clear pitches.  Seriously.  I need to know what your story is about (reference above).  I do not know what a “dune-hopper” or “darkened one” is (or any such variation).  Explain.  Concisely.  I repeat – I do not know your book, so please make it very clear.  Like talking to a five year old clear ;-).

*  I’m looking for fresh submissions.  Original writing.  Original concepts.  If you’re going to work with an over-done trope, tell me in your pitch what makes it original.  Why should I choose your book above everyone else’s?

*  Things I love – mysteries, very intelligent thrillers, YA & MG, historical, unique folklore, Shakespeare retellings, original non-Western myth rewrites, books based on true stories with a great platform.

*  Spelling and punctuation matters in a pitch.  If you don’t take the time to get it right in your pitch, how can I assume you’ve done it for your book?

*  A clear indication of genre in your pitch.

*  And I repeat for the millionth time.  A clear pitch.  I ran a pitch workshop on my last blog post.  Feel free to go and post your pitch.  For the love of all that is holy please send a clear pitch.  A HUGE percentage of pitches we receive don’t tell us what we need to know.

So, with that piece of tough love in place, I wish you all the best of success with this year’s Pitch Madness.  I look forward to reviewing your submissions as they filter in through the Study.  Though I do advise you check out our Host and Support Readers’ websites in order to glean what they like for Pitch Madness!

Fingers crossed everyone!!!

1 thought on “#Team Smarties – Can You Survive The Study?

  1. Fantastic advice for all writers, whether they're preparing to enter Pitch Madness or honing their queries for agents and editors. Good luck, Fiona & TeamSmarties! Have fun digging for diamonds next week.


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