Pitch Wars 2021

Hi there! I’m Sarvenaz Tash and I'm very excited to be back in my second year as a Pitch Wars mentor in the young adult category. The main thing I'm looking for in submissions is humor and the off-beat. I’m accepting a variety of genres, including: romance (particularly rom-coms), contemporary, historical, and mystery.

(You can download a plain text PDF of this wishlist below.)

Sarvenaz Tash Pitch Wars 2021 Wishlist
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What is Pitch Wars? 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.

About me:

Picture of Sarvenaz Tash
Photo by Kimberly M. Wang |

I’ve been in publishing for over a decade and have published six full-length novels in middle grade, YA and adult. My titles include The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, Ghosting: A Love Story, Virtually Yours,The Mapmaker and the Ghost and more. I’m a bit of a genre floozy: four of my books are contemporary, one is historical, one is slightly futuristic sci-fi and one is light fantasy/mystery. So I like to putter around in lots of different sandboxes, though I think the things that bind my work together are probably voice and humor.

Author Sarvenaz Tash with her family, including her two young children jumping on the couch.

Some other facts about me:

- I was born in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to the US when I was five. I've lived in Brooklyn, NY for the past 18 years.

- I’m a mom to one newly minted four-year-old and one newly minted six-year-old. If you happen to also be a parent and a writer…I have a lot of thoughts/feelings/commiseration about that (especially during the pandemic).

- I went to NYU film school and wrote many screenplays before I ever tried my hand at a novel, though I’ve wanted to be a children’s author since I was about seven years old and devouring any Roald Dahl/Beverly Cleary/Ann M. Martin books I could get my hands on.

My wishlist:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make me laugh.

I’m a YA mentor this year so I’m only accepting young adult submissions. Probably where I’m most comfortable is romantic comedies, especially where the comedy pulls as much weight as the romance. But because I have genre-hopped a lot myself, the biggest thing I’m looking for is HUMOR in general, be it light-hearted or dark, slapstick or absurdist or anything in between. I also love, love, love anything quirky or off-beat. Do you have the YA book version of Harold and Maude or Beetlejuice or Russian Doll or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? Please consider submitting to me!

I’m comfortable with both contemporary and historical. Wrote a good mystery with funny elements? I'd love to take a look. If you have a big, epic sci-fi/fantasy, I may not be the best fit for you in terms of world-building but—again—if humor is a driving factor and you’ve written the next Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, then I just might be. Diverse and marginalized voices are most welcome and I have a specific interest in neurodivergent voices as well.

I also want to add that the manuscript I ended up choosing last year was not something I would have ever thought to put in my wishlist (a paranormal rom-com!). So I am very open to being swept away by the unexpected.

Two of my favorite, I-think-they’re-absolutely-perfect, rom-coms of all time are Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Some other favorite YA reads:

Working with me as my mentee:

Because of my screenwriting background, I do tend to lay a lot of store by three-act structure, so this is something I would probably look for and try to hone in your manuscript. I’m also very, very big into character arcs as well as stories (and comedy) that are character-driven. I often feel like I need to know where a character has been in order to see where they are going and I might try to persuade you to dig into a character’s history, even if it doesn’t end up on the page. So we might work on some character or beat sheets if I feel they would be helpful. Getting your elevator pitch and comp titles right are other things I’d work on with you.

Of course you’ll get an edit letter from me as well notes within the manuscript, along with help with your query and Agent Showcase pitch. My goal would be to get your manuscript spit-shined to be its best self. Which also means that—much like any relationship with a professional editor—everything I say will be a suggestion and it will ultimately be up to you whether to take it and/or how to implement it. Aside from editorial comments, I’m also available to talk about my experiences with the business side of publishing if that’s something you’d like to discuss or get my take on. I’ve had multiple agents, editors, and publishers during my time in publishing, so I have a variety of experiences/personalities to pull from.

Communication-wise, email will likely work best for me. Because I am a parent to two young children, and because school is still so uncertain at this time (CRY), my availability might vary on a day-to-day basis but emails will never go unanswered. I’m also open to scheduling occasional phone calls or video chats. Last year, my mentee and I had three different video chats at various points in the Pitch Wars process and that worked really well in terms of touching base during key moments (at the beginning, after the first edit, and right before showcase). But, of course, I’m open to adapting the communication style and schedule so that it works for both of us.

I should also mention that I tend to really like schedules and deadlines. My goal would be to create an agreed-upon schedule right at the beginning of our mentorship so that we both have a good idea of what’s expected of each of us when.

In conclusion:

Ultimately, my goal for this relationship is pretty simple: it was my lifelong dream to be a published author. Achieving that has come with many ups and downs (as all dreams do), but I have never stopped being grateful for achieving it or for all the people who helped me along the way—as well as proud of all the hard work it took to get here. I would love nothing better than to use my experience to help someone else along their journey to achieving their own dream.

So, go on. Send me your funny and quirky books!

Check out the other YA mentors' wishlists: