Frequently Asked Questions
So what’s this about?
Publishing is a winding, twisty path to follow – often dark and fraught with uncertainty. It’s hard to find your way alone. Author Mentor Match was started by Heather and Alexa, two CPs who have helped each other along the publishing path. This program was born out of a desire to help other writers, the way Alexa helped me (Heather) when she was an agented author who knew the ropes, and I was a baby writer who knew woefully little. Her encouragement is what led to me sending the query to an agent I thought was too good for me – and ended up changing my life.
Alexa and Heather have gathered together debut and agented YA writers who are generously willing to donate their time to help lend a hand to a fellow writer. We’ve all been where you are now. Often, we’ve had to make our way alone, and have taken our share of of missteps along the way. Most, if not all of us, have found that a support group of other writers is invaluable in this often confusing, often heart-wrenching industry. We’d like to offer that support to those who are just starting out.
So it’s not a pitch contest?
Nope! We’re here to help you along your publishing journey as best we can by preparing you and your book for querying agents on your own.
The query slushpile might seem impossible to break out of, but just ask our mentors – it DOES work. Many of us found our agents this way, after all!
Is this only for YA?
AMM is currently open to YA and MG writers, though more of our mentors focus on YA than MG.
But why don’t you add mentors for adult?
They say one of the key factors that keeps non-profits and start-ups afloat and thriving is to never stray from their core mission/area of expertise/take on more than resources can handle. AMM’s core mission/area of expertise is Kidlit, because Alexa’s core area of expertise–and all of her publishing experience, knowledge, and networking connections–are in Kidlit. AMM is FULLY committed to providing the highest quality program possible, which means doing due diligence to personally vet mentors and use our networks to ensure a variety of mentor background/tastes, as well as providing community support, information, and specific advice to all AMM mentees about publishing. Adult is essentially EVERYTHING outside of children’s publishing, which includes every single genre, and many many markets–very few of which any AMM mods have experience in/expertise on/connections to. We don’t half-ass anything, which is why we have no plans to expand into adult at this time.
Who can enter?
Unpublished writers of young adult and middle grade novels, about to start querying (or have only queried lightly) who are looking to find an agent and/or traditional publisher for their manuscript.
Does it cost anything?
No! Author Mentor Match is 100% free. There are no fees to enter, nor any other costs.
How polished should my manuscript be?
We ask that manuscripts be nearly ready to query; this means different things to different people, so use your best judgement. We ask that at a minimum, you must have a completely finished manuscript and have done at least one full revision pass before applying. Our mentors are here to help you polish, not to give an overhaul of an early draft. Mentors will judge based on query and sample pages and choose the manuscript they feel they can best help. This doesn’t mean we’re looking for perfection, so try not to stress about it. Just make sure you’ve done the best you can on your own, first.
Can I enter this if I was previously agented but looking for new representation?
If you were previously agented but are currently querying again, yes, you may enter this with a new manuscript (not the one you originally found representation with.) However, we are especially looking to help writers who are about to query for the first time. It will be up to the individual mentors to make their own choices about who to they wish to mentor.
Can I enter this if I’ve already queried my current ms?
In order for us to maximize the amount of helpful advice our mentors can offer, we ask that you only apply if you’ve queried this current manuscript as little as possible. If your current manuscript has already been turned down by all of the agents who rep your genre, we won’t be able to help you very much – not all agents will take a second look at a manuscript they’ve previously passed on. The number of reasonable agents for a manuscript varies widely, however. We don’t have a hard & fast number that is “too much” (though over 100? Probably too much.) When in doubt, we say submit. You never know if an AMM mentor may be interested.
What if I’ve already self-published?
If you’ve previously self-published a novel, but are unagented and are looking to query a new manuscript, you are eligible to apply. However, keep in mind that some mentors may prefer to work with more inexperienced writers.
How many mentors can we apply to?
After reading each mentors’ bios and wishlists, if there is more than one mentor looking for a manuscript like yours, you may apply to up to 4 mentors.
Wait, I can’t find the mentor profiles?
Click on the Mentors page, and then click on their pictures. They link to the profiles/wishlists.
What happens if two or more mentors like the same manuscript?
In such a case, we’ll allow those mentors to respectfully decide between themselves who gets to work with that applicant. If they can’t come to an arrangement on their own, we’ll ask the applicant to choose which one they wish to work with.
If the mentors I apply to aren’t interested, will they share around my application with other mentors?
Yes, AMM does support mentors sharing promising manuscripts that aren’t a fit for them with other mentors. So it is possible to be chosen by a mentor you didn’t apply to! We always run it by the mentee before making a match, and thus far no one has said no. Thus, while you can only apply to 4 mentors, it is possible to have a shot with additional mentors.
What if my word count is above the number on the submission guidelines?
The guidelines are just guidelines! They reflect recommended industry standards for MG and YA word counts, and generally speaking most mentors will not take on a manuscript longer than 120K. But we recognize that with the emergence of upper MG, for instance, that your MG word count may exceed 60K. Don’t count yourself out because of a word count: when in doubt, just apply! We leave it to our mentors to evaluate which manuscripts are the best fit for them.
Can I submit more than one manuscript?
We don’t technically have rules against this, but we don’t advise it. It’s in an author’s best interest to submit one manuscript that has been nicely polished, and represents their most viable work in terms of quality and the market. We have space on our application to discuss other works as well as WIPs–you are welcome to describe other complete manuscripts there, and a mentor can always ask about that book if interested. But, as of now, no rule against it, so we can’t stop you! (we’ll change the rule if it gets out of hand)
What if I receive an offer of representation after I apply for a mentor?
If you’ve accepted an offer of rep before the mentors make their picks, congratulations! Please shoot us an email or a DM and let us know so that we can remove your application from the pool. That way, our mentors can spend their time assisting another writer with their query and manuscript. (Agents will often want to do revisions with their clients before submission, so we wouldn’t want to interfere with that.)
Can I participate in other pitch contests?
We don’t recommend participating in any other pitch events during the AMM submission window. Doing so can add complications that makes it difficult for a mentor to troubleshoot, should they be interested in working with you. Whenever possible, we try to ensure our application window doesn’t overlap with major pitch events, for this reason.
Can I enter Pitch Wars if I’m chosen for AMM?
AMM is not a stepping stone to be used to get into Pitch Wars. The vast majority of mentees understand this, of course, but it bears saying since we get this question a lot and it also comes up on mentee applications more than we would like. If you are chosen for AMM, a publishing professional will invest a lot of time into you and your manuscript. Your mentor will help you prepare to query, as well as to participate in non-mentorship based pitch contests–our mentees participate in #PitMad & #DVPit all the time! (We happily share many success stories with #DVPit)
But Pitch Wars is also an intense mentorship program, which of course culminates in a showcase (whereas AMM does not), and those mentors also are very dedicated to doing deep manuscript work and mentorship with their mentees. Both AMM and PW mentors want to guide their mentee, and share an editorial and pitching vision for the manuscript. After investing a lot of time and care into you and your book, it will hurt your AMM mentor’s feelings if you go to Pitch Wars for a “better” mentor, or just so you can enter the showcase. If the latter, you’re not being fair to the PW mentor either!
There are cases where AMM mentees don’t have luck with their first AMM manuscript, and after writing something new and consulting with their AMM mentor, both decide it’s a good idea to enter PW. (We have a success story from this, as well!) But this does NOT happen immediately. Meaning: if you are accepted into AMM R6, you will not be applying to Pitch Wars in the summer of 2019.
Is there a cap on mentee applications?
No. We will be accepting any/all applications from as many mentees as are interested and who apply within the submission window.
How many applications do you typically receive?
It’s been going up every round! At this point, we receive approximately 600 entries per round, and it goes up by 100-200 each time.
How can I keep up with updates?
How can I connect with other mentee hopefuls?
To connect with other mentee hopefuls, we recommend the mentee-run Facebook group Author Mentor Match Support Group.
If you’re on twitter, check the following hashtags: #AuthorMentorMatch (for general AMM fun), #AMMFam (what’s going on with our current AMM mentees/mentors), #AMMParty (the days of the month sharing around submission time), #AMMConnect (for prospective mentees to share about their novels to other hopefuls and mentors!).
Can I be a mentor?
Possibly! We are currently closed to mentor applications for Round 6, but will open a new application for Round 7 in Summer 2019. Please note that to be a mentor you must be agented and/or have a traditionally published book deal/book.
What if I have a specific question about one of the mentors’ wishlists?
Feel free to tweet questions at a specific mentor (just as long as you don’t, you know, bombard them.) Examples such as: “Your bio says you’re looking for sci-fi; how do you feel about a sci-fi retelling?” or, “Would you be interested in X meets Y?” types of questions are fine. We’d prefer such questions be public so that others might be able to see their questions answered also; thus we ask that you please don’t DM the mentors unless invited to do so.
What if I have another question that you didn’t answer here?
For more general questions, or ones that are too long for Twitter, feel free to @tag or DM Alexa (@AlexaDonne), or email the Author Mentor Match email found on the Contact page.