Friday, July 15, 2011

It's Pitch Season

Batter up! Well, not exactly. While it is baseball season, it's also pitch season for writers. Many of us are getting ready to pitch to agents or editors at upcoming conferences and our nerves are a bit, well, frayed.

Yesterday, I read about a YA author who had a unique take on pitches. He writes a one-sentence pitch before he writes his novel. By doing so he stays true to his premise and he doesn't go through the agony of trying to boil down 300 pages to just one sentence. I think it's a great idea and it has already helped me come up with a pitch/premise for another novel.

Of course, that won't help with my current, finished women's fiction. I have to pare it down for my pitch. Luckily, Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner just blogged about pitching. Below is an excerpt from her post. You can find the rest at I'd encourage you to read the comments section as well. You'll hear some pitch horror stories and won't feel so alone.)

From Rachelle: Too often, people sit down and nervously launch into some kind of story and I find myself dizzy with confusion. I sit there like a deer in the headlights and then I say something like, “Let’s back up. What’s your name? And is this fiction or nonfiction?”

Here are some guidelines:

→ Don’t try to tell the whole story. Start with the plot catalyst, the event that gets the story started.

→ Then give the set-up, i.e. what happens in the first 30 to 50 pages that drives the reader into the rest of the book. Include the pressing story question or the major story conflict.

→ Fill out your pitch with any of the following: plot elements, character information, setting, backstory, or theme. You want to include just enough information to really intrigue your listener.

→ Finish by giving an idea of the climactic scenes and the story resolution.

→ Try not to tell too much of the story in the pitch. The pitch is supposed to get somebody interested, not tell the whole story.

→ Include only a couple of characters.

→ Include one plot thread, or two if they’re closely intertwined. You can hint at the existence of other characters and plot lines.

Be prepared to answer questions that could include things like:
→ How does your story end?
→ What published author’s style would you compare your writing to?
→ Who are your favorite authors in your genre?
→ Is this a series? And if so, what are the subsequent books about?
→ Have you worked with a critique group or a professional editor?
→ Have you pitched this to publishers in the past? If so, what was the response?

Again, this is just an excerpt, and I encourage you to hop over to Rachelle's blog and read her entire post.

Have you ever pitched? Are you going to pitch soon? Tell me about your past pitching experience or how you're preparing for one now.

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