Success Story: Jackie Morera


We’re excited to share Jackie Morera’s #LatinxPitch success story! The PB author answered some of our most pressing questions about her experience with #LatinxPitch and her amazing picture books, with which Jackie signed with an agent shortly after the #LatinxPitch 2021 event. Congratulations, Jackie!

1. Tell us a little bit about your experience with #LatinxPitch – where did you hear about the pitch event from, how did you feel the day of the event in terms of expectations, and how did the event lead you to sign with your agent?

I follow many Latinx writers on Instagram and Twitter, so in the weeks leading up to the event, it felt like #LatinxPitch was everywhere! I believe the first I heard of it, though, was on the Las Musas Podcast (Ask A Musa, Ep. 10: LatinxPitch). I listened to the episode in the car and then immediately ran to my computer once I got home to research as much as I could about the event. I spent a lot of time on this very blog!

On the day of the event, I felt anxious! I was new to all things publishing, querying, and pitching and only recently rejoined Twitter about two months before. Thankfully, I had one round of Twitter pitch events under my belt (#PitMad) and had help from some friends in the writing community to refine my pitches by the time #LatinxPitch rolled around. I went into that day planning to make new connections with other writers, read great pitches, and have fun. I never expected the incredible response from agents, editors, and publishers alike! Tara Gonzalez liked the pitch for my picture book, THE MAGIC ISLAND, one of four projects I was pitching, and then later that day asked me to send her my other stories. I signed on with her in early December!

2. What was your recipe for the perfect pitch? 

There’s a lot of excellent advice out there about how to craft a strong pitch, and I tried to apply as many of those tips as I could, but what it came down to for me was asking myself two questions: 1. Is this clear? 2. Is this compelling? No small feat when you only have 280 characters, I know! But, what I found worked best, was to write multiple pitches for each of my projects, ask myself these questions, tweak them, and then ask someone else to read my pitches and answer these questions. I also played with formatting, white space, emojis, comps, and delivery, so I had a lot of variety in my pitches by the time the event rolled around.

The pitch that Tara liked was the least traditional of the group:

WHERE ARE YOU FROM x VIVO đź‡¨đź‡ş
A magic island đźŹťď¸ŹAn Abuela’s sacrifice âť¤ď¸ŹAn enchanted painting đź–Ľď¸Ź
When Abuela’s grandchildren ask about THE MAGIC ISLAND, she must decide if she wants to share the whole story–the sol y sombras of her magic home.
#LatinxPitch #PB

3. What would you say to Latinx writers who are querying?

Well, to start, please be my friend! I want to support your journeys and lift your voices!

But the honest advice is not too far off: lean into the Latinx community! Find other Latinx writers, join groups like the Kidlit Latinx Facebook Group, listen to podcasts like Las Musas, attend events like Latinx Kidlit Book Festival, try to find CPs who also identify as Latinx, and then engage with the people you meet in a meaningful way. All of this will take your mind off the emotional roller coaster that is querying while also establishing the foundation for beautiful friendships! 

4. What does an event like this mean to you as a Latinx writer?

Is “everything” too obvious an answer? Because it honestly means that, everything! Whenever someone asks about what led me to finally pursue publication, I often tell people that I was content to write for “an audience of one” for the rest of my life. While true, there’s a deeper layer there that I only recently unveiled. And that’s: is there even an audience? If I put myself out there, and I tried, would people care to read about Cuba, or about an Abuelo who sells flowers on the side of the road, or about Latinx princesses in space? Is there too much Spanish in my books? Does that Vivaporu reference make sense? And on, and on! So when I eased my way into putting myself out there, I was pleasantly surprised to find a community ready to embrace me and even more relieved to learn about events like this one! There is hope yet for the bookshelves of the future. 

5. Finally, tell us what you can about your manuscript and the stories that you write!

I mostly write picture books right now, but I enjoy writing YA and some adult fiction. The pitch that connected me to Tara, THE MAGIC ISLAND, is for a picture book inspired by my experience as a girl listening to my grandparents talk about their lives in Cuba and describing this special, seemingly mythical place with a heavy sadness. It’s very near and dear to my heart, as one might imagine! 

The first story Tara and I are working on, ABUELO’S FLOWER CART, is a picture book that gently explores grief and death. It was also inspired by my time with Abuelo visiting his flower cart in Miami. His home, his flower cart, the colorful Miami street where he lived—they all felt like an extension of “the sad place,” a beautiful gated garden across the way. The story is about understanding that these places, where we go to remember and miss our loved ones, can be beautiful too. 

Jackie Morera is a second-generation Cuban-American writer who was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She lives with her husband, their son, and their two neurotic pups in Central Florida. Jackie writes picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction. When she’s not writing or spending time with family, she works as a Career Advisor for an online Business Apprenticeship Bootcamp where she helps young people take their first steps in their career journey.

Website

Twitter

Instagram

Success Story: Leslie Adame


We’re excited to share Leslie Adame’s #LatinxPitch success story! The MG author answered some of our most pressing questions about her experience with #LatinxPitch and her amazing MG, CHLOE VEGA AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS, with which Leslie signed with an agent shortly after the #LatinxPitch 2021 event. Congratulations, Leslie!

Leslie’s #LatinxPitch Tweet

1. Tell us a little bit about your experience with #LatinxPitch – where did you hear about the pitch event from, how did you feel the day of the event in terms of expectations, and how did the event lead you to sign with your agent?

I heard about #LatinxPitch last year when it first started! I’m a part of a Facebook group of Latinx writers and the founders promoted the event through that group. At the time, my manuscript was still going under revisions and I was preparing to submit it to Pitch Wars, so it was no where close to being query-ready. 

This year, I was barely in the process of querying agents when #LatinxPitch came around again. What I love about it is how well organized it is. On September 1st we were given the opportunity to practice by tweeting out our pitches during a certain period of time and incorporating feedback given to us by other authors. I was doing my eyelashes and had my phone on do not disturb when the event was going on and was SHOCKED when I looked at my phone hours later and saw a lot of supportive and helpful comments about my pitch! It gave me a lot of confidence and made me more excited about the event. 

A week after the practice pitch event, however, I received a R&R from one of the agents I had originally queried. They gave me feedback I strongly agreed with, so I put querying on pause while I worked on my revisions. I probably shouldn’t have done this, but I couldn’t resist being left out of #LatinxPitch for the second year in a row and participated anyway. I still had a completed, polished manuscript and figured it’d be fine as long as I communicated to the agents who requested that I was working on revisions and would send them my updated materials as soon as I finished. On the day of the event, I ended up receiving 15 agent likes and 3 editors likes. I was overjoyed and scrambled to let the agents know I would send them my materials soon. 

But then I got a call from another one of the agents I had originally queried, and they offered me representation. They were willing to work with me on my revisions. 

Internally screaming, I informed the agents who requested during #LatinxPitch and sent them the older, completed version of my novel. One of those agents ended up loving the book and offered representation too. I laugh now, but I was a mess. In the end, I chose to accept the offer of the first agent. I am thrilled to announce I am now represented by Patrice Caldwell at New Leaf Literary & Media! I can’t wait to work with Patrice, and I am grateful for #LatinxPitch for giving me the confidence I needed to get my book out there. 

2. What was your recipe for the perfect pitch? 

I really credit my film and television professors at UCLA for helping me write my pitch. My first pitch for Chloe Vega was written as an assignment for one of my screenwriting classes, and from there I modified it. My professor was a stickler for keeping it at one to two sentences, and not gonna lie, I struggled a lot. After doing a bit more research, I realized that the problem wasn’t my pitch, my problem was my manuscript. 

Pitches sometimes [sometimes] help identify problems in your manuscript, especially if you’re aiming for a more commercial concept. If you find that you’re struggling to find the three main components to a pitch: the main character, their goal, and the stakes (what’s stopping them from getting to their goal), then you should probably take a look at your manuscript. I quickly realized that I didn’t have any stakes and had to forgo a long revision process to add them. 
Be strategic about your comps. If you feel like the tone and message of your book is clear with the pitch alone and don’t have more space to write comps, leave it as it is. If you feel like your pitch could benefit from including comps, do your best to include them! You want to make the most of the space that you have. Every word counts, but don’t overdo it. Sometimes less is more, and if you feel like your pitch is good and you’ve still got a couple characters left, leave it! 

3. What would you say to Latinx writers who are querying?

Mi querida gente, our stories are SO important, and I really want to take this time to thank you all for rising up to be the literary voices of our community. I come from a low-income, primarily immigrant/first-gen community where we are constantly being discriminated against and exploited. For many of the people here and in other communities like this one, folks don’t have the time or knowledge to write about their injustices or happy experiences because they’re too busy trying to make ends meet. I’ve encountered many instances where I was told beautiful stories by the people of this community, and when I suggested they should turn those stories into novels, they shyly turned away and admitted they didn’t know how to read or write. 

Writers, querying is hard. Rejection sucks. But we owe it to the people of our community who don’t have the privilege to write to keep going. If we don’t tell our stories, who will? There is not a single person on the planet who can write a Latinx story better than a Latinx writer, and I’ll take that to my grave. If there’s one thing we Latines are, it’s resilient. No se detengan. Keep going. ¡Si se puede! 

4. What does an event like this mean to you as a Latinx writer?

Y’all remember that graphic from 2018 that showed the percentages of representation in children’s novels? The one that indicated that only 5% of children’s novels in 2018 had characters that were Latinx? When I saw that graphic for the first time, I was distraught, and I couldn’t stop asking myself why. It’s not just publishing, it’s the film industry too. We need more Latinx representation across the board, and I really appreciate organizations like #LatinxPitch that create bridges for Latinx writers to get their foot in the door. Keep it up #LatinxPitch staff! Your work is important! 

5. Finally, tell us what you can about your manuscript and the stories that you write!

Here’s the extended pitch for CHLOE VEGA AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS, my middle grade contemporary fantasy!

When her undocumented parents are taken by a sorcerer disguised as an immigration officer, twelve-year-old Chloe Vega joins a magical resistance academy to get them back. But things take a turn when she realizes the resistance will sacrifice everything to defeat the sorcerer— even her parents.

Growing up, I always admired the resilience of immigrants, both documented and not. They’re hard workers and in my eyes, heroes. They are the backbone of this nation, working jobs most U.S. citizens do not want to work. No matter what the job is, immigrants will get the job done.

As a child, I wondered why there weren’t as many fantasy books centered around not only Latinx/e people, but immigrants and their first-generation children as well. Why can’t we wield the wands, fight the dragons, or lead a magical resistance to victory? The day five-year-old Leslie asked herself these questions was the day the very first seed of this story was born.

CHLOE VEGA AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS is a love letter to mi gente. My people. It’s written in a way that is informative for folks who aren’t familiar with the struggles mixed-status families experience, but also not heavy enough to be painful to read for those families in question. My hope is that this book makes you smile, laugh, cry, and overall, makes you feel warm inside. Thank you so much #LatinxPitch!

Leslie Adame is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Film, Television, and Digital Media. Along with writing books, she invests most of her time mentoring historically marginalized students and preparing them for a higher education. She strongly believes in the importance of representation in books, and has volunteered in events like the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival to put a spotlight on Latinx/e authors. Leslie grew up in the Inland Empire, specifically Ontario, California. She hopes to one day publish a middle grade fantasy centered around a first-generation protagonist and her undocumented parents. You can follow Leslie on Twitter @lesliepadame, on Instagram @leslieadame, and her website, leslieadame.com.

Rules to Participate in #LatinxPitch

LatinxPitch is around the corner! We hope you are preparing your pitches for September 15, 2021.

Here is a reminder of who can participate and how to participate.

ELEGIBILITY

  • All UNAGENTED and AGENTED Kidlit LATINX authors, author-illustrators, and illustrators are welcome to participate. Kidlit includes board books, picture books, chapter books, middle grade, graphic novels and young adult.
  • Anyone who self- identifies as Latinx with cultural ancestry in Latin-America is encouraged to participate. If you’re a bilingual Latinx creator not living in the US but are interested in publishing in this market, you are eligible to participate.  If you are married to someone who is Latinx or your subject matter includes Latinx heritage, but you are NOT a self-identified Latinx creator, we ask you to refrain from participating in this specific event. 
  • Latinx creators are welcome to submit any type of story or topic that falls under the Kidlit umbrella. There is no expectation that pitches should only cover Latinx themes as we fully recognize the diversity of talent, interests, and knowledge of our community. Our goal is to showcase these talents and promote Latinx expertise and skills to the wider community.
  • Agented authors and illustrators should check with their agents and agencies before the pitch.
  • If you’re an illustrator pitching work-for-hire/commissions include work samples from your portfolio and your topics of interest. 

HOW

FOR WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS

  1. Post your pitches using #latinxpitch from your personal Twitter account. You are not required to register for this event. 
  2. Add your genre #BB (board books) #PB (picture books) #CB (chapter book) #MG (middle grade) #GN (graphic novel) #YA (young adult)  #Art to make it easier for agents and editors to find you.
  3. Add a subgenre if desired:  #AuthorIllustrator,  #NF (Non-Fiction),  #OWN (Own voices), #DIS (Disability), #Romance, #Fantasy, #LGTBIQ, #WFH (Work-for-hire)
  4. Artists will use hashtag #Art and submit a link to their portfolio or 4 individual illustrations. You may mention what are your sources of inspiration or what kind of projects you are interested in working.
  5. Agented authors and illustrators must include the hashtag #Editor to indicate they are looking for an editor and not an agent.
  6. Pitch each manuscript/art project only ONCE in the morning and ONCE in the evening. Each project can have a total of two pitches during the event. Only pitch completed, unpublished manuscripts or samples of a complete proposal for artwork. Self-published projects are not eligible. 
  7. You can post up to 4 manuscripts/art proposals in the morning and 4 manuscripts/art proposals in the evening, for a total of 8 pitches during the day. You can only post the same project twice during the event. 
  8. Remember do not like fellow creator’s pitches. As a creator you can show your encouragement to work you like by commenting on pitches. We are looking for ONLY Agents and Editors to FAVORITE and RETWEET pitches. A retweet from an editor will be a signal for agents, they are looking for this specific type of project (#MSWL). A retweet means interest, a like means request.
  9. Please note if an editor likes your pitch, but can accept ONLY agented submissions, do not submit your work directly to them. However, you can note their interest when querying agents.
  10. If you receive interest from agents or editors accepting unagented submissions, we recommend you do your research before submitting. You have no obligation to submit your work if it’s not a right fit for you. 

FOR AGENTS AND EDITORS

  1. Please visit our event from 8 am to 8pm on September 15th. Writers will post up to 4 original pitches in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. The same project will be posted a max of 2 times.
  2. Post your guidelines for submitting on your twitter page.
  3. Please LIKE pitches you would like to request. Agented writers will use #agented as a hashtag. Unagented writers will not have that hashtag. If you prefer only agented submissions, you may RETWEET to signal agents you are interested. A retweet means interest, a like means a request.
  4. We hope you find many voices to enrich your book lists and we appreciate you for opening a door to the Latinx community.

Add Your Voice to #LatinxPitch

Hey fellow writers and illustrators, we want to hear from you. What does REPRESENTATION mean to you? Has the lack of Latinx representation in children’s literature affected you personally in any way? As a creator of kidlit, why are you committed to lift up Latinx voices? What are some experiences that have shaped your commitment to represent through your writing or illustrating? How are your children or students affected by the lack of representation?

Please share with us a short video (1 to 2 minutes) where you respond one or all these questions. We want to hear from you whether you are a super-well-known author/illustrator, a debut author/illustrator, or a pre-published creator. Your voice is important.

HOW?

  1. Record yourself on your phone or favorite device. Make sure you are recording in a well-lit space.
  2. Upload to your Twitter account.
  3. Tag @LatinxPitch and use hashtag #LatinxRepresentationMatters . We’ll RT from our account.
  4. If you want us to post from our account send us your video via DM. We’ll post from our account tagging you.

WE CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Thanks, Gracias, Obrigado!

LatinxPitch would like to thank all our donors for their time and their commitment to boost Latinx representation in children’s publishing. We couldn’t do it without your support.

Also, a big thanks to

Julie Downing – https://www.juliedowning.com/

Alex Giardino – https://www.alexgiardino.com

Adria Quinones – http://adriaq.com

Donna Muñoz – https://donnalynn26.wixsite.com/donnamunoz

and Renee Beauregard Lute – https://www.reneebeauregardlute.com/

What’s a Twitter pitch?

A Twitter pitch is a short and catchy “what my book is about”. Think of it as an elevator pitch but with the word count constrains of Twitter. For our event, #LatinxPitch, you also need to leave room for hashtags for your genre (#PB, #CB, #MG, #GN, #YA) or if you are #Agented.

Quick tips:

  • Remember to add our hashtag #LatinxPitch either at the beginning or end of your tweet.
  • Your manuscript should be ready to go when you participate on this event. Sure, you could still polish it and make revisions, but the story has to be finished. We’re not pitching ideas, but complete manuscripts.
  • Write your pitch several days in advance and include hashtags to see how many characters you have. Twitter allows up to 280 characters including spaces.
  • You may want to use Twitterdeck to keep track of likes and retweets of your pitch. Learn more HERE
  • Polish your pitch and keep it simple. Your tweet should capture the heart of your story and present it in a compelling way.
  • When an agent or editor favorites your tweet, go to this person’s page and look for their guidelines for submission.
  • Keep in mind that even if an agent or editor picks your pitch, there’s no guarantee they will offer you a contract. But at least you would have a opportunity to show your work.
  • Have fun! Get to know other Latinx writers, follow their work, and if you can, buy their books (or request them at your library). Representation works only when we work actively towards it!