First off, congratulations on finishing your manuscript! This is a huge accomplishment in itself, and I hope you’ve celebrated accordingly.
Secondly, I’m thrilled that you’re considering me as your mentor. To help you make your decision, I’ve included some information about who I am, what I’m looking for, and why you should (or shouldn’t) submit to me. So let’s dive in!
Who Am I?
I’m Kristin Rockaway, and I write commercial women’s fiction with romantic elements.
My debut novel, THE WILD WOMAN’S GUIDE TO TRAVELING THE WORLD, was released in June 2017 from Center Street / Hachette. It received a starred review from Library Journal and was selected by Hudson Books as one of the Best Books of Summer 2017.
My next book, HOW TO HACK A HEARTBREAK, will be released from Graydon House / Harlequin / HarperCollins on July 30, 2019.
I’m currently represented by Jessica Watterson of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency for books and Lia Chan of ICM Partners for film.
For those of you who like to read official bios, you can see mine here.
Why Should You Submit to Me?
I have experience critiquing. Both with informal critique partners and formal classroom settings.
I lead with positive feedback. I know how hard it is to put your work out there and have other people judge it. I’m not out here to crush dreams; I’m here to help you get published. Before I start telling you what to fix, I’m going to tell you all the things I love about your manuscript just the way it is.
I’ve been around the publishing block. My first novel was published in 2017 with a Big 5 publisher. Shortly thereafter, my imprint stopped publishing fiction. A few weeks later, my agent quit agenting. I was orphaned, twice, in the span of a month, and for a second there, I thought my author career was over. Fortunately, it wasn’t – I found a fabulous new agent and got a fabulous new book deal with a different Big 5 publisher – but I learned a lot in the process. So when it comes to navigating the publishing world, I have tons of advice for you.
What Am I Looking for in a Mentee?
You have a complete, polished manuscript that’s between 60,000 and 100,000 words. You’ve had other people read it and you’ve edited it. You feel that you are submitting your best possible work.
You’re open to feedback and willing to make changes to help sell your book.
You like to laugh and have fun, but you also know how to be professional.
You’re persistent. This is a tough business. You will hear “no” a lot more than you will hear “yes.” You need to be okay with that.
You’re nondiscriminatory. Under no circumstances will I work with someone who is bigoted, racist, or xenophobic.
What Should You Send Me?
Contemporary women’s fiction. Specifically, I’m looking for lighthearted women’s fiction with romantic elements that takes place in the present day (formerly known as chick lit), but I’m really open to all types of contemporary woman-centered fiction. Which, to me, just means your story is about a woman (or women) embarking on some sort of life experience that leads to personal growth. There can be a romance, but it doesn’t have to be the central point of the story. There doesn’t even have to be a romance at all!
A lot of woman-centered fiction is marketed as mainstream, literary, or sometimes even romance. (Why? I don’t know. Publishing is largely a mystery, even to the published.) So here are some examples of the kinds of books I’m looking for:
- Anything by Sophie Kinsella
- THE ASSISTANTS by Camille Perri
- WHEN KATIE MET CASSIDY by Camille Perri
- THE IDEA OF YOU by Robinne Lee
- OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES by Abbi Waxman
- DO THIS FOR ME by Eliza Kennedy
- THE REGULARS by Georgia Clark
- SARONG PARTY GIRLS by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
- SOMETHING BORROWED by Emily Giffin
- WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger
- HELLO SUNSHINE by Laura Dave
- THE WOMAN WHO STOLE MY LIFE by Marian Keyes
- The QUEEN OF BABBLE series by Meg Cabot
Good writing is the most important thing. A strong voice and a captivating plot are the most important elements to me. So if you’re not sure if your manuscript is women’s fiction or romance or mainstream or upmarket or commercial (what do these terms mean, anyway???), but you think I might be a good fit – send it on over! (Just a note on this: I am open to NA with relevant themes, but I will ask you to recategorize it as Adult.)
I’m prioritizing underrepresented voices. The publishing world – and women’s fiction, in particular – is very white, straight, cis, abled, and neurotypical. This needs to change. I’m excited about receiving submissions from everyone, but I’d really love to see submissions from #ownvoices authors. (Please see here for a description of what #ownvoices means.)
If your manuscript contains any of these topics of personal interest to me, then that might just shoot you to the top of my pile:
- Humor. I love a good rom-com, but any story that makes me laugh is a winner.
- Women in STEM. Particularly techies. (Computer science major here.)
- Iran. I’m part Persian, so I love reading stories about Iran, or the Iranian-American experience. Bonus points for scenes including Persian food (I make a killer ghormeh sabzi).
- Brooklyn. I was born and raised in Canarsie, then lived in Bay Ridge, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Boerum Hill. I love reading stories set anywhere in my home borough.
- Motherhood. I’ve got a 5 year old. I live in the suburbs. I get it.
- Cardi B. I love everything about her. Her music, her style, her personality, her Instagram. If you’ve written an MC that’s reminiscent of Bardi, I want to read all about her.
- Intersectional feminism. If you don’t know what this is, we’re probably not a good match.
- Girls Trip, the movie. Have you written a novel that’s reminiscent of this film? Please send it to me.
- Travel. Domestic or international. Hotels. Hostels. Airports. Cruise ships. Tour buses. I love it all. Let me live vicariously through your manuscript.
What Shouldn’t You Send Me?
Please do not send me:
- Historical fiction set before the 1980s. This is best for everyone. My history grades were atrocious.
- Science fiction or fantasy. (Magical realism is okay, though!)
- Inspirational fiction or stories with religious elements.
- Thrillers, though a mysterious subplot is cool with me.
- Books about cancer, unless they are done in a lighthearted way (like LIFE AND OTHER NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES by Camille Noe Pagan). I can’t deal with descriptions of illness or treatment or death; sorry, this is a personal trigger for me.
- Stories with rape or sexual assault.
- If you wrote a tearjerker, I’m probably not the right mentor for you. This means no sad, serious stories that revolve around tragedy or death. And while I don’t require an HEA, a book needs to at least end on a hopeful note for me to connect with it.
Any Other Questions?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter and I’ll try my best to answer them. (But please, please do not pitch me.) My handle is @KristinRockaway. To return to the main Pitch Wars wish list post, click here.