“If you can’t describe a book in one or two pithy sentences that would make you or your mother want to read it, then of course you can’t sell it.”– Michael Kordon, editor-in-chief, Simon & Schuster (Wall Street Journal, June 26, 1984).
I don’t know about you, but if there’s one thing I really hate about writing, it’s the pitching process. Especially with that kind of pressure! Thank you, Mr. Kordon.
I know – it’s a necessary evil if you want an agent. I get it. But there’s so much to it. And the sad part is, I can write a pitch for almost any book I’ve read – but not mine. There’s something about self-aggrandizement that really gets under my skin and makes me want to rip my eyeballs out. Pitching my own book is almost impossible.
What do you leave in? What do you leave out? Is that secondary plotline really important? How much setting do you give vs. how much character development? Are you really getting the point across and grabbing someone’s attention? Every. Single. Word. Counts. Especially if you only have 250 words to do it in, like I did this past week.
Pretty much on a whim, I decided to try my luck at NaNoWriMo’s “Pitchapalooza,” hosted by The Book Doctors, Ariel Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. I haven’t seen a Pitchapalooza in person, though I know they do them at writing conferences and book fairs – basically, authors get 1 minute to pitch their book, not just in front of Ariel and David, but in front of a live audience. The best pitch wins a free consult with them, and hopefully will lead to a better book overall, and introductions to agents who are actively seeking something exactly like your book.
My friend Debra Dockter (debradockter.com) won Pitchapalooza at the Kansas Writer’s Association Conference a few years ago. They made suggestions and introduced her to her current agent. So I knew things could happen. You know, good things.
This Pitchapalooza, though, was online. You got just 250 words to convey the essence of your novel. In addition, the ideal pitch would:
- showcase your writing ability
- explain why YOU are the one to write it
- show what’s unique about this novel
- and create the same kind of “I have to know what happens next” feeling of a movie trailer.
Not hard, right? No pressure. None at all. So. After working with Deb on my pitch for my young adult novel (Nicky’s story!), I sent it in. They would choose 25 pitches at random to go on their website and be critiqued. The public would then vote and the ‘fan favorite’ would get a consultation.
Random + me = not a snowball’s chance in hell. But I sent it in anyway.
And surprise – I’m one of the 25!
The point of this whole thing is twofold.
One: here’s a chance to see 25 pitches, for all genres and in all kinds of writing styles and levels of expertise, in one place, complete with fairly in-depth expert commentary on what they like about them – and what needs improved. If you’re not good at writing pitches (like me), this is a GREAT learning opportunity.
And two: go vote for me and Nicky. 🙂 No, seriously, you should vote for your favorite, but if your favorite happens to be Nicky, that would be brilliant.
In the meantime, I’ll be frantically writing. Because Nicky’s story? It ain’t quite done yet. 🙂
http://www.thebookdoctors.com/2015-nanowrimo-pitchapalooza – The website for the pitches, and where you can vote.
Some helpful links for writing that pitch:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000755331 – the winning pitches for Amazon.com’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Awards.
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/pitching – the best of Writer’s Digest’s pitch articles, in one convenient location!