Spin, Pitch, and Roll

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More on Bait and Hook, or, Spin is Everything!

In a blurb, spin is everything. Really. And for UnPub, being quick on his feet and creative in his written or verbal pitch can mean the difference between an agent (editor) asking to read UnPub’s work or passing on it. To know which kind of pitch to use requires a bit of research on UnPub’s part. If UnPub means to meet an agent / editor at a conference, should study the agency’s or pub’s webpage and figure out what kind of pitch to make. If a query or proposal letter is required then…um…ditto.

My pal *Mary* has been trying to get an agent excited about her Southern Women’s Fiction Novel for months. Everyone passed. She changed her pitch and the *one* agent of her dreams asked to see the whole thing, wanting an exclusive *right away*.  What did she change? Well, I helped her cut some POV segments out, but it was the pitch change that *got the agent’s attention*. She beefed up the dead body in the first chapter (added 3 paragraphs, I think) and pitched it as — A Southern Mystery set in a small South Carolina town, where a feminist grandmother and her 12 year old granddaughter fight to save the ancient trees on Main Street, battling racism and sexism, while solving their neighbor’s murder.

It worked. It’s an advertising ploy called Bait and Hook where the right bait is tossed to the right fish and the fish goes for it.

But rather than explain it, I’ll give examples.

I’d use this one for meeting and greeting the urban fantasy editor or the agent of my dreams. General Blurb for Skinwalker:

Jane Yellowrock has never met another skinwalker, or a sane vampire. When she is hired by the Vampiric Council of New Orleans to track and dispatch a rogue-vamp who is killing and eating cops and tourists, she is placed in danger of being hunted down and killed herself. Her preconceptions about vamps and their blood-servants is challenged, along with her view of herself in an urban fantasy, alternate reality, current day novel.

But if I met a romance editor or an agent who specialized in paranormal romance, I’d say something like:

Skinwalker Jane Yellowrock hadn’t met a guy who turned her (or her Beast) on in years. But when she’s hired by the New Orleans’ Vampiric Council to hunt down and kill a rogue vamp who is scaring off the tourist trade, she meets a human, a blood-servant, and a vamp, any one of whom could be the man (or other) of her dreams. In a current-day, alternate reality story with stakes, guns, swords, and vamp heads a-rolling, Jane Yellowrock’s preconceptions about vamps is challenged, along with her view of herself and her world.

If I met an editor or agent looking for a paranormal mystery, I’d say:

Jane Yellowrock—private eye, skinwalker, and vamp hunter for hire—has never met another skinwalker, or a sane vampire. When she’s hired by the Vampiric Council of New Orleans to track and dispatch a rogue-vamp who is killing and eating cops and tourists, she is placed in danger of being hunted down and killed herself. Her skills in modern-day investigating, hip techno-weapons, and vamp lore is challenged in this fast-paced alternate reality mystery.

Paranormal erotica: (Okay, I’d have to rewrite the book, but if I was desperate…)

Skinwalker Jane Yellowrock is both a human and a beast, but she hasn’t met a guy who turned on her two halves in years. When she’s hired by the New Orleans’ Vampiric Council to hunt down and kill a rogue vamp who is scaring off the tourist trade, she meets a human, a blood-servant, and a vamp, any one of whom could be the man (or other) of her dreams. In current-day, erotic alternate reality story with stakes, guns, swords, and vamp heads a-rolling, Jane Yellowrock’s preconceptions about vamps is challenged, along with her view of herself, her sexuality, and her world.

I’d have to promise the agent the book in six weeks, because I’d have to add a number of sex scenes – meaning rewrite the whole thing.

Marketing Blurb for current book: Early Anita Blake meets Jack Palance, when a kickass Cherokee Skinwalker / vampire hunter is hired to hunt down a rogue vampire killing off cops and tourists in New Orleans.
Humorous marketing niche: Early Anita Blake meets Jack Palance, when a kickass Cherokee Skinwalker / vampire hunter is hired to hunt down a rogue vampire killing off cops and tourists in New Orleans. Her card reads: Have Stakes Will Travel.
Erotic marketing niche (after I rewrote the book, of course) Later Anita Blake meets Jack Palance, when a kickass Cherokee Skinwalker / vampire hunter is hired to hunt down a rogue vampire killing off cops and tourists in New Orleans, and meets her sexual match with a human, a blood-servant, and a vamp.

So. You get the idea. You want to be published? You have to be quick on your feet, inventive and resourceful. You have to fit the market, not make it fit you, at least initially. You have to be willing to bend (within creative and moral reason.) And you have to be willing to work your butt off.

We saw some really good Bait pitches recently. Anyone willing to offer a different kind of pitch here, by taking an existing pitch and qualifying it for a different kind of editor/agent? You may never need it, but it will make your brain work differently even if you have to rewrite the book (Add three dead-body-paras, like my pal Mary?) should an agent want to see it. Go for it!

Faith

 

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8 comments to Spin, Pitch, and Roll

  • Well poo. I meant to add this, so I’ll do it here.
    There is a new magazine called Crossed Genres for both the readers and writers among us. I wrote an article for the first mag!!! Take a look at …
    http://www.crossedgenres.com
    And a link directly to my article:
    http://www.crossedgenres.com/content/001_nonfiction_1.htm
    Faith

  • Thanks for continuing your great advice for us newbies. *smile*

    Here’s my attempts…
    Fantasy –

    Araceli D’Ovne has fought demons for many years, unfortunately they were her own.. After a brutal attack left her near death, many people consider her insane. With her friends Robere and the Priest Therin to help, she now has to overcome her insanity to be ready to fight the demons threatening to rule the world.

    Chick Lit –

    After Araceli D’Ovne’s brutal attack at the hands of a group of men, many in her village consider her insane; but with the help of her friends Robere and Therin, she will once again find her inner strength. She will need it for the trials that she and the world must face.

    Romance –

    Araceli D’Ovne long ago suffered at the hands of cruel men, but she must now struggle aginst her past as she is drawn to her bestfriend, Robere. He is young, brash, and quick to smile but why does it not feel right? She must follow her wounded heart to find true love while facing down a rising tide of darkness threatening the very fabric of the world.

    Thoughts? *grin*

  • Mark, I absolutely love number one and three. Number two, however may need something to qualify as chick lit…Hmmm… (tongue firmly in teeth)

    After Araceli D’Ovne’s brutal attack at the hands of a group of men, many in her village consider her insane; but with the help of her friends Robere and Therin, she will once again find her inner strength…and a great pair of shoes. She will need the strength, and a new wardrobe and makeover, for the trials that she and the world must face.

    Okay that was silly of me, I know. But you *do* have the right idea. Good work!
    Faith — whose irreverent streak is showing

  • New shoes and a wardrobe? Hmm… oddly enough in the book she does go shopping for a new wardrobe so that actually fits in a Chicky Lit sort of way. *haha*

    Thanks for looking them over!

  • I’ve never done these kinds of pitches before. I suppose I should learn, since I’ve just finished my last contracted book and need to sell a new series. I’ll have to work on this….

  • David, I have found that the way a book is pitched (and sometimes rewritten to fit said pitch) can make a big difference in whether a book is looked at by an agent or editor. It may not, however, make much difference in whether it is sold or not. That comes back to the writting and an existing marketing nitch. I am getting ready to pitch a new urban fantasy with a co-writer, under a new pen name, so I have pitch on the brain! Which sounds gooey, but you know what I mean.
    Faith

  • CJ

    Such a good post :)

    It underlines one of the most significant things about being a writer, apart from the writing itself, that is.

    It’s something that many newbies don’t realise: the fact that it’s effectively a two stage process these days. Most writers will have to find an agent before they can have any realistic chance of finding a publisher and the pitch initially has to be all about catching the agent’s eye.