Editing, Life, Pitch Wars, Publishing, Querying, Writing

Gladys Qin’s 2020 Pitch Wars Wishlist: PARTAY IN AUSTRALI-YAY

Another year is upon us, which means another PW wishlist. Whew. Now that I know what I’m doing more, I’m returning with a more monstrous wishlist than last time. I saw some of you stalking my 2019 wishlist, which is smort, but things are changing this year! Please read to the end if you are considering me as a mentor. I’m taking a lot more (read: a shit ton) subgenres this year.

If you saw my banner, I’m an adult category mentor this year. However, I am open to new adult submissions that err on the adult side of the fence. If you’re not sure which age category your NA manuscript is closer to, here’s a nifty blog post that breaks things down to help you.

Before we get to the fun part of the weird and wonderful things I want to see in my inbox, let’s go over some essentials.

My mentoring style and specialties

If you’ve done your extensive stalking (a useful skill in publishing, imo), you would have seen that I’m quiet on the writing front. Unlike most of the mentors here, I don’t have an agent or an upcoming book release. What I do have, however, is experience on the other side of the publishing machine.

I have a master’s degree in creative writing, publishing, and editing, as well as professional experience as a production editor, developmental editor, copy editor, and proofreader. I’ve been running my query package critiques for almost a year because I wanted to help people with the things I’ve learned on a literary agency internship. So, while I have to play a little catch-up with my own writing, I can approach your manuscript with the eyes of a publishing professional. If that’s more what you’re after in this mentorship, you should consider listing me as one of your four preferred mentors.

I also have academic background in business and engineering, so, first and foremost, my eyes will be trained on the internal consistency and logic. When I read, I have a little CinemaSins voice in the back of my head, especially about character development. If you’re after more big-picture overhauls (which I will also do) and are overwhelmed by nitpicking, maybe I’m not the best mentor for you.

My editorial comments can range from serious suggestions to holy shit, I had a dream about the main character’s beautiful dog last night (this really happened). If I pick your manuscript, I will be immersed in the story for many months to come, so expect a lot of inside jokes. I’m looking for a mentee who is a proactive problem solver. I would prefer someone who’s analytical and can look at their work from different angles so we can be on the same wavelength, but if this is a facet you’re willing to improve on, I’d be happy to offer you a different way to approach revisions.

As a mentor, I want to be your friend and cheerleader but also something like a personal trainer. I want you to take home skills you can use outside of this program. I will very regularly check in to make sure we’re staying on track, so I would prefer a lot of communication to be more instant than email. I’ve also found it’s useful to revise chapter by chapter so we can bounce off ideas for the next part and also stay motivated. We can do this with Google Docs or Word documents—I prefer Google Docs because we can chat in the comments, but whichever works better for you.

Ultimately, the way we work will be a collaboration, and what needs to be done will depend on the manuscript. Mentorship with me is a two-way street, and I need you to work with me and not for me. If you’re self-motivated and low-maintenance with a curious, open mind, please read on for my wishlist and see if we’ll be a good fit! I ask that you pay careful attention to what I want and don’t want. I don’t want you to miss out on a mentor application slot because of my personal preferences.

Now let’s get to my genres…

Science Fiction

Ah, the joys of having so many subgenres on your wishlist that you had to split SFF up. I’m aware sci-fi appears to be what I gravitate towards as a writer, but there isn’t a preferred order to genres I want to mentor, so please don’t read too much into it.

I’m basically taking any sci-fi subgenre: space opera, near future, post-apocalyptic*, cyberpunk, hard/soft, military, time travel, speculative fiction, with or without romantic subplots.

*just no dystopian or zombie apocalypse, please. Everything else is welcome. I am very partial to stories that straddle multiple genres, so if your sci-fi has elements of fantasy, thriller, or is something unique that’s not really been done before, I’m pushing in front of all the other mentors with grabby hands.

Genre-specific bonus points:

  • Feminist/female-led (especially in male-dominated subgenres like cyberpunk and military).
  • Nuanced antiheroes and antagonists on the moral fence—crush the good vs bad dichotomy in SFF. Oh yeah.
  • An internal struggle as big as external ones. Give me a deep dive into the psychology of “normal people”.
  • Avant garde voice/POV/concept.
  • Exploration of the post-human: give me the cyborgs, augments, mutants, AI, aliens, robots, human Transformers??? But not in a war against the humans that ends up making the humans look great because they have a heart etc.
  • Characters with quirky hobbies.
  • Engineers, so I can live out the life I never did.
  • Rich world building that I can see on the page but doesn’t overload the page.
  • Bonus points for everything that’s shiny in your manuscript. Double if colourful.


For fantasy, I’m open, but not limited to: high/epic, portal, urban/contemporary, magical realism, paranormal, historical, alternate history, steampunk, with or without romantic subplots. Don’t hesitate to ask if your specific subgenre isn’t in the aforementioned list!

Genre-specific bonus points:

  • Main characters who have slight psychopathy, which makes them unlikeable/immoral at times, but portrayed in a nuanced manner.
  • Again, I’m not looking for the struggles of good guys against bad guys as much as everyone is terrible.
  • Ancient lore and cultures (or inspired by), polytheism, anarchy instead of monarchy, unique and fresh world building.
  • Magic systems that are logical, “magic” treated as a branch of research or science.
  • Magic involving metals????
  • Sentient magic.
  • A post-apocalyptic situation.
  • Narration that spends more time on tension/action than description. I’m sure other mentors are looking for more of the traditional kind of fantasy prose, but this is not for me.


This is the genre I consume the most (books, TV, movies, etc), so if you’re looking for a mentor to help you with market positioning, I’m your person. I’m accepting the following subgenres this year: thriller, suspense, mystery (traditional, general, cozy). Again, these are just boxes Pitch Wars gave me to tick off, so I’m more likely to want you to submit than not. Do check if you’re not sure!

You might remember my mentee last year surprised me with a suspenseful historical women’s fiction manuscript that I loved. So, this year, I’ll also be open to historical manuscripts that have a strong suspense element. I only ask you to do your due diligence with research—history isn’t my forte, so I want to be able to trust that I don’t have to do much fact-checking during the mentorship.

Genre-specific bonus points:

  • Espionage. I love a good spy story.
  • I equally love a good psychological thriller.
  • Innovative plot twists.
  • A complex protagonist whose motivation isn’t a dark past that makes their whole world their job/mission and generally unavailable for anything else. I want to see their lives outside of the main plot too.
  • Unique settings.
  • Following that, um. IN SPACE.


I’ve loved the gothic genre ever since I heard about it. Send me a dark, eerie, and beautiful story to get completely engrossed in. Show me your own take on the genre and how gothic novels are still relevant/relatable in the modern era.

Genre-specific bonus points:

  • All the weird.
  • ATMOSPHERE and aesthetics that’ll put me in a trance.
  • Depth of main characters.


I’m adventurous by nature, so I’m always looking to be taken on an adventure with words. Surprise me with a setting I don’t know about (but please tell me it’s been thoroughly researched!) and will never want to leave.

Genre-specific bonus points:

  • A setting that’s rarely visited in books and other media, little-known quirks pertaining to that setting.
  • A dysfunctional team forced to work towards a common goal.


If you’ve read through my fiction wishlist and you think we’d be a good fit, but you’ve written a contemporary manuscript instead? Fear not, I’m accepting dark contemporary stories this year. I think it should be pretty clear what kind of stories I’m interested in by now, but if there’s something you’d like clarification on, please reach out to me via Twitter DM @ gladiusquintus.

Overall bonus points for fiction

  • Strong friendships and found family.
  • Witty humour.
  • Independent, clever characters who mostly lead with their heads.
  • Overall fast pace, but with wholesome moments of downtime.
  • Stories that leave questions that have difficult or no answers: for example, philosophical or ethical musings. No leaning to one right side in the story when this is the case.
  • Strong psychological realisation of characters.
  • Cinematic visualisation of scenes.
  • Unreliable narrators.
  • d i v e r s i t y done well, not to tick boxes. Own voices encouraged!


A BIG change to my wishlist this year is that I’m taking memoir submissions! I want to hear about your fascinating lives and big wins.

If you’re a memoir author applying to me, I hope you won’t take editing personally. It’s one thing to edit a fiction manuscript and another thing to edit someone’s life story, I know, but there are still similarities between the two that warrant hard work to be done.

Genre-specific bonus points:

  • Gripping voice.
  • Tight pacing and buildup of tension.

What I’m not looking for

  • A cast that doesn’t pass the Bechdel test.
  • Religious allegories.
  • Toxic angst that isn’t acknowledged or worked on.
  • Fate-based plots.
  • BDSM/power imbalance relationships, alpha males, misogyny, relationships where someone has to be “fixed” at the expense at the other person.
  • Setups of oppression.
  • Manuscripts over a 120k word count and the author isn’t willing to cut it down if the manuscript is around that length.

Any other questions?

If you need something answered regarding my wishlist, please reach out on Twitter DMs or send me an email in the Contact section of my website. If you want a lively community to get you through the final stretch, feel free to ask me for the link to my Pitch Wars hopefuls Discord.

That’s about it for now. Check out the other mentors’ wishlists below!

Pitch Wars 2020 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

    Mia P. Manansala and Kellye Garrett (Accepts NA)
    Rochelle Karina (Accepts NA)
    Ren Hutchings (Accepts NA)
    Mary Ann Marlowe
    Rachel Lynn Solomon
    Anna Kaling
    Gwynne Jackson (Accepts NA)
    Kristen Lepionka and Ernie Chiara
    Rachel Howzell Hall
    Lyn Liao Butler
    Michael Mammay and AR Lucas
    Paris Wynters (Accepts NA)
    K A Black (Accepts NA)
    Heather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla (Accepts NA)
    Hudson Lin (Accepts NA)
    Sonia Hartl and Annette Christie (Accepts NA)
    Taj McCoy (Accepts NA)
    Ian Barnes (Accepts NA)
    Keena Roberts (Accepts NA)
    N.E. Davenport (Accepts NA)
    Elizabeth Little
    Anne Raven and Janet Walden-West (Accepts NA)
    Charish Reid and Denise Williams
    Kalyn Josephson and Kat Enright (Accepts NA)
    Gladys Qin (Accepts NA)
    Tanen Jones (Accepts NA)
    Clay Harmon (Accepts NA)
    Jake Nicholls (Accepts NA)
    Layne Fargo and Halley Sutton
    Denny S. Bryce and L. Penelope
    Roselle Lim and Farah Heron (Accepts NA)
    Morgan Rogers (Accepts NA)
    Samantha Rajaram
    Rob Hart
    Damyanti Biswas (Accepts NA)
    Maria Heater
    Cynthia Pelayo (Accepts NA)
    Gia de Cadenet
    Nicole Glover (Accepts NA)
    Rosie Danan and Ruby Barrett (Accepts NA)
    Cole Nagamatsu and Sequoia Nagamatsu
    Carly Bloom and Sam Tschida
    P.J. Vernon and Kelly J. Ford (Accepts NA)
    Matthew Quinn Martin (Accepts NA)
    Stephen Morgan (Accepts NA)
    Alex Segura and M. J. Soni
    Roma Panganiban (Accepts NA)
    Tricia Lynne (Accepts NA)

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors’ Wish Lists

15 thoughts on “Gladys Qin’s 2020 Pitch Wars Wishlist: PARTAY IN AUSTRALI-YAY”

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