A #DVpit Success Story:
Interview with M. M. Hoffman and Tricia Skinner

M.M. and Tricia, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview and congratulations on your partnership! To start, M.M., I’d love to know more about your book and why you wrote it.

M.M.: When I wrote THE ATLANTIC BOND, I really wanted to write a book with a biracial protagonist in the military. From there I built a world where humans are the endangered species due to an alien invasion. The society's sole mission is to populate the earth with genetically perfect babies only taking in consideration one's DNA and not the color of their skin (and of course, rid the alien threat.) And at the time, I was watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Data quickly became my favorite. I was determined to find a way to incorporate an Android created to emulate a human male into a fast-paced, action-packed plot with a little bit of mystery and teenage angst! Ultimately, I wanted to write a main character readers of color could look up to.

Tricia, what was it about this manuscript that sealed the deal for you?

Tricia: I adore science fiction, but I always found myself searching the screen or the page for anyone who looks like me. For so long, people of color weren’t represented very well. Maybe I’d see one black person in a throw away role. What THE ATLANTIC BOND did well was hook me with a strong main character who is slowly revealed to be biracial. I was on the adventure, living in that future, cheering on the protagonist. It was exhilarating to enjoy a manuscript where the author lived up to a diverse audience.

M.M., how did you prepare this manuscript for submission? Do you work with outlines, schedules, or deadlines? Do you have critique partners and beta readers?

M.M.: I got into a contest called Pitch Wars in 2015. I worked with a wonderful published author, Wendy Spinale. She whipped me and my manuscript into shape! We cut a few chapters, added in 1408's POV, extended the ending, and tightened the pacing. It was a lot of work, but worth it. My only deadline was finishing the manuscript before Pitch Wars’ submission window opened. I had my eye on the contest for over a year when I started writing THE ATLANTIC BOND. Prior to Pitch Wars, I had a beta reader and a few other critiques on the opening chapters.

And how was the #DVpit experience for you, overall? Expectations? Doubts? Disappointments?

M.M.: To be completely honest, I wasn't planning on pitching in #DVpit. At the time, I was at the end of the road with querying, and I had done several pitch parties on Twitter and nothing had come of it. I thought all of the agents had seen my pitches (granted I changed them up quite a bit with each pitch party) and I planned to patiently wait for the full manuscripts I had out with agents to resolve. But a couple of my friends at a conference suggested I throw in a few pitches. SO GLAD I DID! Tricia, along with 11 other agents/editors, favorited my pitches!

How was the experience for you, Tricia?

Tricia: I found #DVpit to be an overwhelmingly positive experience. There were so many great pitches; several were in genres I don’t cover but wished I did after reading the pitch. I also hoped editors at publishing houses would take notice of the wealth of stories available from marginalized voices. #DVpit proved there was no excuse for not offering a wider choice of stories for all readers.

M.M., did you receive pitch help? Any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along to future participants?

M.M.: I had received help from a fellow Pitch Wars Mentee with my pitches a few months earlier so I ended up using the majority of them, changing up a few words in each pitch. My suggestion, find the best comps you can. Strong comps can really make a difference in a pitch. A reader can instantly grasp the theme or tone of your book!

And Tricia, do you have any advice for querying authors and/or for anyone planning to participate in a future #DVpit?

Tricia: I implore authors to first finish the manuscript they plan to pitch during #DVpit. They’ll need this to get the most out of gaining agent or editor interest. I still have a handful of #DVpit pitches that haven’t come in because the manuscript wasn’t polished and ready to go. That hurts the author because once I fill out my client list, I’m closing to submissions.

Tell us about The Call, M.M.!

M.M.: The Call was amazing! When I got an email from Tricia and Laurie to set up the call, I couldn't have been happier! I knew almost instantly after the introductions, they were the perfect agents for me. They totally understood my story and their vision for my book and my career matched my own. A match made in heaven!

Give us the pitch that hooked your agent(s)!

M.M.: “I, ROBOT meets TOP GUN when 17yo Evie seeks truth behind her Android's sentient glitch, risking exile & her heart #DVPit #SF POC OWN”

Tricia, what was it about this pitch that caught your attention?

Tricia: Monica chose comp titles that easily supported the rest of the logline. I imagined the story as a whole, and it had so much potential that I couldn’t ignore her.

What else are you looking for these days? Is there anything specific on your wishlist that you’re hoping to find, maybe at the next #DVpit?

Tricia: I keep my wishlist updated on the Fuse Literary website. I change it rather frequently so I encourage people to keep an eye on it. One thing is certain, I will always want diverse stories.

Warm congratulations to M.M. and Tricia for finding one another! I’m looking forward to seeing where they go next. Follow them on Twitter so you can do the same!

Monica M. Hoffman is a Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy author, represented by Laurie McLean and Tricia Skinner of Fuse Literary. She is an active member of SCBWI and the writing community. She dislikes getting up early, but a good cup of coffee can usually motivate her. She enjoys any movie/book (especially fantasy and Sci-fi) that can make her cry, laugh, or gets her blood pumping from an adrenaline rush. She’s a Trekkie, Dr. Who, and Star Wars fanatic, and a PC gamer when she’s not writing or reading. You can find her tweets about all things YA lit & entertaining GIFs on Twitter and Facebook.

Tricia Skinner (@4TriciaSkinner) is an Associate Agent at Fuse Literary who specializes in all subgenres of adult and YA Romance. She is also a hybrid author of passionate urban fantasy (represented by Fuse co-founder Laurie McLean). As an agent, Tricia wants to represent authors who reflect diversity and cultures in their work.