The BIG PITCH

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What does a pitch have that might get you noticed? Most (or even all) of the following:

  1. Genre info.
  2. Date info.
  3. World info.
  4. Character info.
  5. Conflict info.
  6. Resolution info.
  7. Who I am.
  8. Why I should write this book.

 Bad pitch: “I’m writing a novel and it’s about this girl? Who falls in love? And the guy hates her, you know? And they have lots of sex and they get together. It’s based on my life and I like sex a lot.”

 Oh. My. God. NO!!!!!!

Better Pitch (but worthy of being improved): “I have an alternate reality novel based on the life of Catherine the Great, where Rasputin is a mage and the soldiers in her army are mages and the Kirghizs are dragons. In order to defend her reign from the dragons who try to ravish the Volga colonies, Catherine has to learn the magic lost by her husband’s grandfather, Peter the Great.” (Small quiet smile) “I’m a historian and so it’s the perfect book for me to write.”

This has all the elements but it’s a bit wordy. May not be easy to say, especially if you are in a state of panic.

Alternatively: I have an alternate reality novel based on the life of Catherine the Great, where Rasputin is a mage and the Kirghizs, Catherine’s enemies, are dragons. In order to defend her reign from the dragons who try to ravish the colonies, Catherine has to learn the magic lost by her husband’s grandfather, Peter the Great.” (Small quiet smile) “I’m a historian and so it’s the perfect book for me to write.”

I like this one, because it is simplified.

Okay let’s break down the first one: “I have an alternate reality novel (genre and marketing info, world info) based on the life of Catherine the Great (date info, character info, timeline) where Rasputin (more character info and you sound so intelligent) is a mage (more genre info. Hey! It’s a fantasy!) and the soldiers in her army are mages (more genre info and a bit about you as you must be a historian) and the Kirghizs are dragons. (You clearly know history and clearly have something to offer her! And…Dragons!) In order to defend her reign from the dragons who try to ravish the Volga colonies, (conflict info {see what I said above – alternate reality book}) Catherine has to learn the magic lost by her husband’s grandfather, Peter the Great (resolution info).” (Here you give a small quiet smile) “I’m a historian and so it’s the perfect book for me to write.” (This is who you are, and baby, you are in!)

The alternate pitch is okay, maybe better as you can say it quicker, and are less likely to forget parts.

Okay – lets say the agent / editor represents / edits historical romance with a paranormal and fantasy preference. Pitch for the same book but you will rewrite the novel with a romance angle if she is interested:

“I have an alternate reality romance novel based on the life of Catherine the Great, where Rasputin is a powerful, young, good looking, gypsy mage and the soldiers in Catherine’s army are minor mages. The Kirghizs are dragons and Catherine’s enemies. In order to defend her reign from the dragons who try to ravish the Volga colonies, Catherine has to learn the magic lost by her husband’s grandfather, Peter the Great. Who can help her but Rasputin? And how does she withstand his allure?” (Small quiet smile) “I’m a historian and so it’s the perfect book for me to write.”

Romance pitch to a romance editor, for a book you will rewrite REALLY fast!

“I have a romance novel based on the life of Catherine the Great, where the soldiers in Catherine’s army are being swayed by a German spy. The Kirghizs are ravishing the Volga colonies, and who can help her defeat them but Rasputin who is secretly a Kirghiz, and who has fallen in love with her.” (Small quiet smile) “I’m a historian and so it’s the perfect book for me to write.”

So you are not a historian and you haven’t written a book about C the Great. Send me your blurb, and below it your blurb broken down in to the things you offer (character info date, timeline, etc.) I’ll see if I can help you make it stronger and cleaner and more of a sale.

Faith
FaithHunter.Net
GwenHunter.Net

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65 comments to The BIG PITCH

  • Pretty cool. :)

    I don’t have my pitch hammered out yet, but if there’s no time limit to contacting you I’d love to send it for critique when it’s done and you’re not swamped. 😉

  • Blurb: Mac Duquene cleaned up messes for the mob, but when a job goes bad and Mac takes a header off the tenth floor, he finds himself in the Bare Dirty, a place for all of those lost souls not yet fit to move on. After accidentally acquiring a strange weapon capable of destroying the dead, Mac flees the angel come to help him redeem his soul and finds his target to be a vendetta-minded prostitute bent on killing the cop who ruined her life. Mac must find it in his heart to care enough about this woman to save her, while trying to fend off the dead come back for the weapon he has yet to figure out how to use. Something is going on far bigger than his feeble efforts to save her, and Mac is far too stubborn to just give up the gun and save him the hassle, even if it puts the woman’s life in jeopardy.

    Genre info. paranormal suspense

    Date info. contemporary

    World info. Where purgatory exists and angels/demons fight over the fate of the souls not ready to move on.
    Character info. Professional cleaner, killed by police during botched job, self-centered, a bit selfish, and some issues are caring for others.

    Conflict info. Back in the realm of the living to redeem his soul by helping others not become like him, Mac finds that the dead really want the strange gun he obtained while in purgatory, and are willing to kill him and/or the one he was sent to save. When they do, Mac must go back to purgatory (the Bare Dirty)and find her before her soul is ruined for redemption, and finds himself getting caught up a war between the dead and those who rule the afterlife.

    Resolution info. Saves the girl from the Irelings (bad guys in the Bare Dirty), discovers his gun contains the soul of a demon who wants him to turn the tide of the war, and the angel responsible for his own redemption has a mysterious agenda of her own for him. (this is book one)

    Who I am. Not a historian either, nor am I one of the dead come back to tell the story of my brethren. Just a writer trying to tell an entertaining story.

    Why I should write this book. Because I had a dream about this Bare Dirty place and had to write a story about it.

  • Hi Daniel, Whenever. You know how to get it to me.

    Jim. Pretty good — you got most of the elements into it. It’s a bit long for a verbal pitch. And there is something not quite clear. I’ll smooth it out a bit and put the questioned area in ().

    Blurb: In my dark urban fantasy, Mac Duquene cleaned up messes for the mob, but when Mac takes a header off the tenth floor, he finds himself in the Bare Dirty, a holding pen for lost souls not yet fit to move on. Mac accidentally acquires a weapon that can destroy the dead, and flees the angel come to help him redeem his soul. He finds his target (who gave him the target? The angel? This sounds crucial to the story and it should not confuse) to be a vendetta-minded prostitute bent on killing the cop who ruined her life. Mac must learn to care about Angie (or whomever) enough to save her, while fending off the dead hunting the weapon he can’t figure out how to use. Something far bigger than saving a prostitute is going on, and Mac is far too stubborn to just give up.

    I’d stop here, becaseu this is a complicated blurb and you now want the agent to say, “So how does he do it?” or “Is it a happy ending?” Or “Is it humor?” Anything that shows you caught his attention.

    Give the answer about how he learns who his target is and add genre and humor part. Maybe say if it bloody and violent.
    I’ll play with it a bit more.

  • Thanks so much for offering to do this! I’m still working on the draft of this novel, but I thought I’d give the pitch a shot:

    I’m working on a fantasy novel inspired by American Indian traditions and mythology. In the unforgiving swamps of their homeland, tribes struggle against one another, internal conflicts divide brothers, and an encroaching Bronze Age culture threatens to change the land forever. The main character is torn between his sworn duty to protect his tribe, his love for a woman, a friendship with one of the invaders, and a deep dread of a forbidden magic that could destroy his tribe as easily as it could save it.

    While most modern fantasy novels are based on feudal Europe, this explores the unique worlds and characters of Stone and Bronze Age cultures, while still offering the adventure and magical elements familiar to fantasy readers. I’m an MFA candidate with a background in history and world cultures that began at age ten with one book and twelve tapes on the Lakota language, so this is the perfect project for me.

    Thanks again!

  • Sarah Adams

    Hi Faith. Thank you so much!

    Below is the blurb – I’m posting it, but the book and blurb are co-authored by me and Emily Leverett.

    The Pitch:
    Our novel is an urban fantasy that spans both modern day human and faerie London. Deor is a bastard and a changeling. She always knew her biological father was a aristocrat, but, until she sailed under Tower Bridge into faerie London, she never dreamed he wasn’t human, let alone that he might be the faerie King Fionnleigh. Now the king is dying and someone is killing potential heirs to the throne. Deor doesn’t want a kingdom, but if she doesn’t find out her father’s identity, she and the king will die. The co-authors have English faerie myth and lore.

    The Pitch Broken Down:

    Our novel is an urban fantasy that spans both modern day human and faerie London.(Genre, Date and World). Deor is a bastard and a changeling. She always knew her biological father was a aristocrat, but, until she sailed under Tower Bridge into faerie London, she never dreamed he wasn’t human, let alone that he might be the faerie King Fionnleigh.(Character Info and set up for Conflict.) Now the king is dying and someone is killing potential heirs to the throne.(Conflict). Deor doesn’t want a kingdom, but if she doesn’t find out her father’s identity, she and the king will die. The co-authors have English faerie myth and lore.(Why we should write this.)

    Again, thank you very much for this offer. I hate writing pitches and I never knew what to say or when to shut up; your advice finally broke the pitch down into a coherent set of directions to follow.

  • This is extremely difficult. Considering my book has at least 5 POV characters – and will probably end up with 8 – who show both sides of the main conflict, I’m having a hard time breaking it down to such a condensed pitch.

    I wrote one pitch which is longer than your examples and that only covers what one side is doing and leaves anything specific about the other side out.

    In trying to incorporate both sides of the conflict I’ve restarted and come up with the following sentence so far:

    I have a second world epic fantasy novel about two royal houses in conflict with each other and within themselves.

    Now, how to expand upon the above is where I have difficulty.

  • Sorry, Faith! Forgot to include the breakdown of the pitch. Let’s try this:

    1. Genre info – a fantasy novel inspired by American Indian traditions and mythology

    2. Date info – the unique worlds and characters of Stone and Bronze Age cultures

    3. World info – the unforgiving swamps of their homeland

    4. Character info – the main character is torn between his sworn duty to protect his tribe, his love for a woman, a friendship with one of the invaders, and a deep dread of a forbidden magic

    5. Conflict info – tribes struggle against one another, internal conflicts divide brothers, and an encroaching Bronze Age culture threatens to change the land forever (and see above)

    6. Resolution info – (see #4)

    7. Who I am and why I should write this book – I’m an MFA candidate with a background in history and world cultures that began at age ten with one book and twelve tapes on the Lakota language.

  • Bad pitch: “I’m writing a novel and it’s about this girl? Who falls in love? And the guy hates her, you know? And they have lots of sex and they get together. It’s based on my life and I like sex a lot.”

    Wow, Faith. Did you have to use my pitch as the bad example? LOL! :)

  • @Christina: HAHA!

    I decided to try to do this and it’s turned from pitch to short synopsis. Yikes! Yeah, it’s a little long and there’s still some stuff it doesn’t cover that I think might be important, but maybe it’s not. Dunno. Guess I’ll finish it anyway. It’ll make a good short synopsis/teaser/blurb if nothing else.

  • How does Rasputin come in there? Shouldn’t it be Potemkin? 😉

  • Gabriele, Rasputin was a mage, with the power of travelling in time. *grin*

  • I sent mine on through your website email addy. :)

  • OK. *deep breath* I’m going to give this a shot.

    I’m currently working on an urban fantasy. Gen is a half-angel freelancer with a talent for finding things. She’s hired to track down the creator of a deadly new street drug known as Inferno. When she suspects the drug is of demonic origin, she turns to her angel friends to find the culprit. But when a mysterious sickness starts spreading through the supernatural community, Gen suddenly finds her only ally is a sexy turn-coat incubus – that she’s sure she shouldn’t trust.

    That’s really pared down and leaves out a lot of stuff, but I think I hit the important bits there.

    And the break down:

    I’m currently working on an urban fantasy (genre/marketing). Gen is a half-angel freelancer with a talent for finding things (character/genre). She’s hired to track down the creator of a deadly new street drug known as Inferno (conflict). When she suspects the drug is of demonic origin, she turns to her angel friends to find the culprit (resolution/genre). But when a mysterious sickness starts spreading through the supernatural community, Gen suddenly finds her only ally is a sexy turn-coat incubus – that she’s sure she shouldn’t trust (conflict/character/genre).

  • Sorry I got so far behind y’all. I was offered the chance to run a river today and could not turn it down! Okay – Nathanael,
    This would work as written pitch, but it’s too long for a verbal one. Well, I’d stumble all over myself if *I* tried to say it…
    How’s this?
    I have an alternate reality (I’m guessing?) fantasy set in American Indian traditions and mythology. Charlie, a hunter (or whatever) is torn between his duty to protect his tribe, his love for a woman, his friendship with an invader warrior, and a dread of forbidden magic that could destroy his tribe or save it. This novel offers the adventure and magical elements of fantasy, in the unique Stone and Bronze Age cultures. I have a degree in and love of history and world cultures that began at age ten and a familiarity with the Lakota language.

  • Hi Sarah and Emily.
    You do not need my help. You got it in one.
    Excellent!

    CE — an epic is a lot harder.Y our pitch will have to be something like:
    I have a alternate (because 2nd means…what?) world epic fantasy novel about two royal houses in conflict with each other and within themselves. The 5 POV characters, all royals, are embroiled in a continent-spanning intrigue and warfare, and in affairs of state and of the heart that threaten to destroy two nations. Do you want to hear more about it?
    This will let the agent bow out if he is not interested in epics and ask for more if he is interested. Take my example and play with your blurb.

  • Hi Nathanael, I just saw the breakdown. Good work.

    Christina! LOL. No way! And hey — congrats on the sale! She just sold a book, ya’all!

    Hi Gabriele
    >>How does Rasputin come in there? Shouldn’t it be Potemkin?
    Hey! Alternate reality. Alternate history! It’s the mismatch I like.

    Daniel, I’ll take a look at it shortly.

  • Melissa — excellent. You got the concept, kept it short and sweet, and gave me just enough to want to read it. Totally excellent.

  • Daniel, You just have to slap me. I either accidently deleted it or … orcs ate it. Yeah, That’s its. Orcs. Please try again.

  • Faith – Thanks for the advice. I was getting caught up in naming each POV character and giving a quick tidbit about each of their struggles.

    I’ll work on coming up with a pitch. The main problem with the two royal families is they aren’t exactly neighbors. One is at the southern end of a large continent and is a naval and merchant power. The other royal family (the main protagonists) live on a large Isle and are quite insulated and deal internationally only with a third royal family that it not in the region to be of any immediate help.

    The conflict stems from an incident in the past between the ruler of the Isle (back when he was a scultor and not established as a royal house) and the now-ailing king of the larger continent-based kingdom.

    Food for thought.

    As for Second World Fantasy, that’s teminology I’ve seen used a lot lately for Fantasy that takes place in a world entirely of the author’s invention, not an alterate Earth. Middle-earth and Earthsea would be examples of this.

  • Da pitch: Dude! I wrote a book have to read. One word: Vampires. Yeah. Guns. Nookie. What’s not to like? Here, take it. It’s only 899 pages. Thanks.

    I know, I know. Now EVERYONE wants to read it. Sheeze, wait for it to be published people.

  • CE, you’ll have to find a way to bring it all together into one coherent whole. I bet you can do it. And good on the 2nd world. It works for me. David writes that, Misty, and Catie too, then.

    Tom — make sure it’s handwritten, please, with crayon on handmade paper. Oh — spritz perfume on it. A lot of perfume. And include naked pics of yourself. You have to get this right.

  • I forgot the homemaid paper! Eeks. I’m such a loser.

    But, my nude pictures are the best. I dress up as Selene of Underworld, with water pistols and everything.

  • Did I mention the cowboy hat I wear in the pictures? The cowboy hat is key, in the book too. Key, I say.

  • OMG! My muse wears a cowboy hat…and boots. And has pistols (but real ones). But he has a red spedo… Do you… Don’t tell me… Could it be????

  • Sarah Adams

    Thank you Faith! Wish I had a muse. I do have an imp of writer’s block. His name is Greebley. He’s dark blue, has antennae and a sceptical look on his face. When I write I make him look out the window instead of at me. (My freshman writing students think I’m insane, but they love having me bring him to class and let them sit him in the corner so they can write. Who knew the same trick that worked in kindergarten would work on 18 year olds.)

  • Blurb Redux:

    In my dark urban fantasy, Mac Duquene cleaned up messes for the mob, but when Mac takes a header off the tenth floor, he finds himself in the Bare Dirty, a holding pen for lost souls not yet fit to move on. Mac accidentally acquires a weapon that can destroy the dead, and flees the angel come to help him redeem his soul. He finds his target, the only person who can see his ghostly form, to be a vendetta-minded prostitute bent on killing the cop who ruined her life. Mac must learn to care about Rebecca enough to save her, while fending off the dead hunting the weapon he can’t figure out how to use. Something far bigger than saving a prostitute is going on however, and Mac is far too stubborn to just give up his gun, even if it risks his soul’s redemption.

  • I’ll go for it …

    Wolf Folk in the hills, unicorn riding orcs, and an antisocial wizard. Plus a merchant family waiting for a shipment that keeps getting delayed. A very important, impatient shipment. A very important, impatient, magical shipment.

    Tales of Yr: A Package From the Lesser Days

  • Sarah, I have a farting dog I squeeze. Oh — it’s stuffed. Guess I should say that part.

    Jim — perfect!

    Alan, Very cool! It will get an agent to say, “Huh?” But then you would need a blurb to tell them about character, etc. Tell me who the main character(s?) is, conflict-plot. You have to give a bit more to have an agent say, “Send it to me. And here’s my card. And include that blurb in your letter. And get it to me by Monday. Never mind, email it to me. Here’s my private email. Can you send it tonight?” But an agent saying, “Huh?” isn’t a bad start!

  • Thanks for the suggestions, Faith!

  • Thanks for the help, Faith. It’s much appreciated!

  • Eeep! I’m actually in the dreaded query phase for my series so I think I’ll give this a shot! This is the first time I’ve ever written a pitch. I’m expecting ruthless edits :)

    Devon Elliott is a modern girl with not so modern problems. Her sister hates her, her classmates tease her and she’s known throughout Savannah as the freak of the Elliott clan. All because of the scars from a childhood accident she can’t remember. All because she believes in the stories other’s call myth. Devon’s dreams take her to another world, a welcome respite from her day to day drama. But when she finds a necklace tangled in seaweed on the beach, her dreams begin to cross over into reality. Devon, her sister and their cousin find themselves swept out to sea only to be rescued by dwarfs dressed, oddly enough, as Vikings. They have been looking for her, they tell her, and they have been ordered to return her and the necklace to the ruined kingdom of Atlantis. It sounds quite simple, but something far more sinister is afoot and Devon and her family will soon discover that the fight for Atlantis isn’t about a necklace at all, but about a Lost Prince, a mysterious Oracle, and the revenge of an angry god wrongfully accused. As Devon’s dreams become more vivid, her scars begin to spread, and secrets revealed cause her to question everything she’s known. This book is the first in a trilogy, steeped in Greek mythology and mystery, presenting the Atlantis legend in a new light. I’m a historian with a love for mythology and folklore that began at the age of seven which keeps me preoccupied in my studies and hobbies.

    Whew! Do you have any idea how many times I almost chickened out of hitting the submit button?

  • OK, I made this up on the fly:

    They had been friends: Germanicus, member of the Roman Imperial family, and Arminius, the Cheruscian prince and Roman officer. But then Arminius returns to his homeland and leads the Germanic tribes into a battle that would be Rome’s greatest defeat – three legions were annihilated in Teutoburg Forest for one man’s dream of kingship. And Rome dispatches her best general to revenge the shame and reclaim the eagles – Germanicus.

    A LAND UNCONQUERED is a x word historical fiction novel. I’m a historian and archaeologist living in Germany who has been bitten by the Roman bug long ago.

    It’s not 100% historically accurate and leaves out half of the other plot threads in the novel, but it might work as pitch better than my blurb:

    The Roman governor Quinctilius Varus is turning Germania into a Roman province, but Arminius, prince of the Cherusci and Roman officer, secretly organises a rebellion, and in 9 AD three Roman legions are annihilated in the Teutoburg Forest.

    Few Romans survive, and in the years to follow the feud between the officers Horatius Veranius and Cornelius Lentulus that divides the Roman garrisons at the Rhine may prove fatal when the Roman general Germanicus leads the legions across the Rhine again in a fight that puts not only Romans against Germans, but also friends and brothers against each other:

    Among them Adgandes, Roman cavalry officer of Cheruscian origins and torn between his admiration for Arminius and loyalty to Rome, the Batavian Irminric who wants his people to join the rebellion, but who also is Veranius’ blood brother, and not the least Arminius and Germanicus themselves.

  • OK, and here’s the sucker for my epic Fantasy that I can’t manage to turn into anything resembling a pitch or a blurb:

    The setting of KINGS AND REBELS is an alternate Mediaeval world where magic is bound to natural objects and connected to the ley lines. In the beginning, all magic was controlled by stones crafted by the power of the Atlanteans, but while some of the stones still exist after Atlantis was destroyed, they remain hidden because they have proven too powerful, and magic runs wild with lesser stones becoming dangerous heirloms and powerful weapons.

    Among kings and rebels striving for power, the Keepers of the stones, Roderic de Sinclaire, Kjartan Haraldson and Alastair O’Duibhne, while torn by conflicting loyalties, face battles, captivity, torture, treason and exile and must find a way keep the stones safe – not only from enemies but also from themselves. Then a forth stone of great power, held by the necromancer Iverys verc Tegvared, appears that unsettles the delicate balance.

  • Faith,

    Here’s what I came up with earlier, tweaked slightly:

    I have a second world epic fantasy novel about the royal House Eznelun, which rules the Isle of Entbracken. When Lord Adren Eznelun discovers the Haeseng King, an old enemy from his past, has finally found a way through the powerful mists that have protected his Isle, he sets in motion a plan to save not only his people but to ensure an Eznelun will remain upon the Ivory Throne.

    This story follows Adren’s son Eren, the crown prince, hunted across the Isle as he tries to win his way back to his father’s side. With him is the squire sworn to protect him, Gedrys Tentan, young son of the Isle’s most famous knight, who discovers a special talent to communicate with the large birds of power that live on the Isle. It also follows the royal duke, Warc Eznelun, who is convinced his brother has become paralyzed with fear in the face of their old enemy, who sets out in his brother’s place on a royal progress to raise an army capable of protecting the Ivory Throne from all who threaten it. Yet the fate of their Isle and their throne may rest in the hands of Warc’s daughter and heir, Quellya, sent by Adren into enemy hands, to barter for peace in a kingdom where women are property.

    This is a struggle not only for control of the Ivory Throne and the payment of old debts. It is also the opening volley in a coming conflict between Light and Dark for dominance of all humankind.

  • You are very welcome, Nathanael and Jim.

    Jennifer. This is what this this site is for, getting info to help you become a sucessful writer.

    For a written pitch your long version is good (and I love the first line for that). But for a verbal pitch, you need something shorter. This still too long by about a third, but I think it will guide you in knowing how to cut more.

    Devon is known in Savannah as the freak of the Elliott clan, because of scars from a childhood accident. When she finds a necklace tangled in seaweed on the beach, her lonely daydreams cross into reality and Devon is swept out to sea to be rescued by Vikings who have been ordered to return her and the necklace to the ruined kingdom of Atlantis, which is facing war (I think?).
    Devon soon discovers that the war isn’t about the necklace, but about a Lost Prince, an Oracle, and the revenge of an angry god wrongfully accused. This book is the first in a trilogy, steeped in Greek mythology and mystery, presenting the Atlantis legend in a new light. I’m a historian with a love for mythology.

    Hope this helps.

  • Gabriele, The problem with this pitch is the number of names and alliances. Unless the agent is an historian, this will be too much. I’d just go with form of the blurb:
    I’m a historian and archaeologist living in Germany, and I have a a x word historical fiction novel about Germanicus, a member of the Roman Imperial family, and Arminius, a Cheruscian prince and Roman officer. They are friends, until Arminius returns to his homeland and leads the Germanic tribes to battle. And Rome dispatches her best general to revenge the shame and reclaim the eagles. It would prove to be Rome’s greatest defeat – three legions were annihilated in Teutoburg Forest for one man’s dream of kingship.
    Then you need to close it with a pithy statement.

  • I’ll get to the rest of you this afternoon! I have to run errands and go to a meeting. Hugs, y’all!

  • Faith,
    Thank you so much for your advice. And thanks for shortening the pitch for a verbal! I have been told by many that I am a bit long winded :) Appreciate the help tremendously!

    ~Jen

  • Oops, Germanicus is dispatched to fight the Germans AFTER the defeat at Teutoburg Forest. Seems something is not clear at all in my pitch, though I thought “revenge the shame” WAS clear. 😉

  • Wow this post has been quite popular and educational. After some thought I decided to take the plunge and offer up my pitch as well, a little constructive criticism never hurt right? So here it goes:

    In my first paranormal fantasy novel 19 year old wandering minstrel Layla is accosted in the middle of the night by a drunken and distraught prince named Davan. After struggling in confusion and darkness Layla is knocked unconscious. She wakes covered in blood. Prince Davan’s throat has been slit. Panic sets in and young Layla taps into her hidden magical abilities, for you see she is a Weikkan, and to be Weikkan is a curse, her race have been hunted and killed for half a century. Abandoned at birth Layla’s powers are untested and unfocused so rather than healing the prince, she inadvertently opens a gateway between life and death. Davan’s spirit frustrated and trapped reaches out to her making physical contact and causing a transference. Layla is now inside the body of the prince, and Davan is trapped in her body lying on the bed throat slit. If that weren’t enough Layla soon discovers that her magical blunder wreaked far more havoc than she could imagine. Opening the gateway between worlds allowed a horrible mangled and vengeful creature named Vurgo to be reborn. Layla must find a way to not only return to her own body and save the comatose prince but also fight the unimaginable evil that she loosed on the world. As a published freelance writer, voracious reader and fan of all things fantasy I believe this novel is a great launch to my career and represents my ambition, skill and storytelling ability.

    Thanks so much

  • Gabriele,
    Sorry ’bout that. Just rearrange the time lines.
    On the new one — fine if you are sending a one page blurb.

    For verbal elevator pitch, again, too many names, too much stuff that isn’t necessary. Remember — your job is to give a 20 second blurb that tells them *what the book is about*. Less is *always* more. Try something *very short* like this (and this is too long to say with out losing the agent:

    In distant history, Atlantis was destroyed, but some of the stones holding its great power still survive as dangerous heirlooms and powerful weapons. Among kings and rebels striving for power, the Keepers of the stones, Roderic, Kjartan and Alastair are torn by conflicting loyalties, war, torture, and exile and to keep the stones safe from enemies and from themselves. Then a forth stone, held by a necromancer, appears and unsettles the delicate balance. KINGS AND REBELS is an alternate world Mediaeval fantasy.

  • CE — way way way too long. Cut it by half and resubmit.

  • Faith,

    You’re right, it needs a bit more. But for off the top of my head I rather like it. :)

    My goal was to get the reaction, “What’s going on here?” Having gotten that, I can tell expand on the basics.

    To do just that.

    1. A secondary world.
    2. An independent city state with a thriving mercantile empire.
    3. Merchant family awaiting an important package, that other people also wait to get ahold of. Business rivals, government officials, thieves, wizards.
    4. Family factor assigned to locate package when its delivery is delayed, again. Encounters with various people, including a Wolf Folk tinker family (race of werewolves) and a Unicorn Orc tribesman and his string of unicorns for sale (there’s a long story behind this one).
    5. Tons of misdirection, family and non-family sub-plots, magic beneficial and malign (but mostly just utilitarian), and a disappearing wizard most folks are glad to see disappear (he’s a plagiarist for one thing).
    6. Which all ends up with the package ending up where it’s supposed to be, but nobody figures out what happened to the wizard.
    7. Why should I be the one to write this? I’ve got the chutzpah. :)

  • Faith. I think what I wrote fits more along the lines of what might go on the back cover of a paperback.

    I’m chewing this thing over and trying to see how to whittle it down to where it needs to be for a pitch. I’ll get there.

  • Kody.
    Too much. Maybe 3 times too much. Brevity. You are looking for prose so tight it strangels you and your book. Short short short. This is an elevator pitch. You don’t want to lose the agent between floors.

    Like this, but even shorter:
    19 yr old traveling minstrel Layla wakes covered in blood. Beside her, Prince Davan’s throat has been slit. Panicked, Layla taps into her Weikkan magical abilities, but rather than healing the prince, she inadvertently transfers their souls. Layla is now inside the body of the prince (hey, is he dead? Throat slit and all?), and his comatose soul is inside hers. Her untrustworthy magic also allowed a vengeful creature to be reborn. Layla must find a way to return to her own body, save the prince, and fight the unimaginable evil that she loosed on the world. I am a published freelance writer who loves fantasy.

  • CE — perfect. It ws fine for one page synopsis to accompany a query letter. But short is the word of the day for a verbal pitch.

    Alan, not bad. Now make it into a pitch.

  • If I missed anyone — send me a nudge.

    And Daniel, I can’t find the one you sent…

  • Great Jennifer! Glad I could help.

  • Thank you, Faith, that helps.

  • Thanks for the comments, here is another stab at it.

    Covered in blood with a dead prince in her bed a panicked 19yr old Layla taps into her fledgling Weikkan magic and inadvertently wreaks havoc. Instead of saving the prince she transfers their souls between bodies and at the same time opens a gateway that allows a vengeful creature from the underworld to be reborn. Layla must find a way to return to her own body, save the prince, and fight the unimaginable evil that she loosed on the world. I am a published freelance writer who loves fantasy.

    Keep up all the good work! I learn so much from you guys.

  • Okay, here’s what I’ve come up with:

    War looms between the powerful Obsidian Throne of Haeseng and the humble Ivory Throne of Eznelun. While House Eznelun, aided by a young squire graced with a special gift, prepares to defend itself against the Haeseng king and his heir, and from enemies within, a young Haeseng prince, aided by an Eznelun princess seek to fulfill a false prophecy that could either avert the impending war or cost both Houses their thrones.

  • Faith,

    A pitch, eh?

    There’s a package lost in transit, and wizards who’ll do anything to snatch it for their own. Can Hrkt family factor Jrf find the shipment in time to make his eldest son’s game? And what do you do for a unicorn with a split beak?

  • Back when Faith was working with all of us on our pitches, she reminded us that the pitch opportunity might occur in an elevator. So your pitch needs to be short enough that you can get it all out before you reach the agent/editor’s floor. 😀

  • You are welcome Gaberele.

    Kody, excelent!

    CE — Better. But I think there are too many repetitinos of the names. How’s this, or cut a name/title somewhere else.
    War looms between two powerful thrones. While House Eznelun, aided by a young squire graced with a special gift, prepares to defend itself against the Haeseng king and his heir, and from enemies within, a young Haeseng prince, aided by an Eznelun princess, seek to fulfill a false prophecy that could either avert the impending war or cost both Houses their thrones.

    Alan, pretty cool! (Split beak? That hurts!)

    Misty, we had fun back then, didn’t we! Did you ever actually have to make a pitch in an elevator? Just curious!

  • Did you ever actually have to make a pitch in an elevator? Just curious!

    It WAS fun! Alas, no elevator pitching for me. But I was ready, in case!

  • Beatriz

    Thanks, Faith.

    A few weeks back on the first day of my new hire class, the participants were ushered into my room 15-20 minutes before start time– and I needed that time to finish getting prepped for class.

    Frantic for something to do, your “Elevator pitch” came to me– so I had the group introduce themselves to one another, giving a fast-and-dirty description of what an elevator speech should be (focusing on selling themselves, not a book :-)

    It worked fabulously, and now I’m going to take the info you provided in this post and translate that to what my folks need– a great icebreaker/networking tool!

    You rock my world!!

  • I know I’m late to the party, but if possible I’ll give this a try. My 25 words or less pitch seems too short for this.

    I have a dark fantasy novel about a former assassin, the Shadowslayer who can’t find redemption for his past deeds. When his old guild fails to kill him, he learns his love, Talia is also in danger. In searching for her, he discovers she’s now a priestess trying to keep the portals to the Underworld from opening. To keep Talia safe and the gates to the Underworld closed, the Shadowslayer must deal with his guilt, the guild’s threat, and the changes between he and Talia. As a former salesman I know all about stealing, and I wrote this because of my love for the underworld.

    Breakdown:
    I have a dark fantasy novel about a former assassin, the Shadowslayer who can’t find redemption for his past deeds.(genre/characer) When his old guild fails to kill him, he learns his love, Talia is also in danger.(character/conflict) In searching for her, he learns she’s now a priestess trying to keep the portals to the Underworld from opening. (world/conflict) To keep Talia safe and the gates to the Underworld closed, the Shadowslayer must deal with his guilt, the guild’s threat, and the changes between he and Talia.(resolution). As a former salesman I know all about stealing, and I wrote this because of my love for the underworld.(who am I/why I wrote this).

  • Faith, I see what you mean about too many repetitions of names. Thanks for this exercise. It has been a real eye-opener. I’ve never really approached this part of the process before so its quite a challenge. It’s also quite inspirational and really gets the creative juices flowing.

  • Yea, Melissa! Selling a book is *very* much like selling yourself, or a piece of yourself, anyway. (Back to my call-girl post, alas.) I am glad it helped.

    CE, seeing your book from a marketing standpoint is very helpful. Agents who contact an editor don’t drone on and on. Editos are *busy*. Even over dinner or drinks, they take second to pitch each book — an elevator pitch. And if you show your prospective agent a pitch that works, you do part of their work for them.

  • NGDave — This is Great! However… the last line is the best, the hook, and wonderful. So…

    As a former salesman I know all about stealing…. (Tiny pause here, because they need to process that and start to grin.) My dark fantasy novel is about the Shadowslayer, a former assassin who can’t find redemption. When his old guild fails to kill him, he learns his once love, Talia, is also in danger. He discovers she’s now a priestess trying to keep the portals to the Underworld from opening. To keep Talia safe and the gates to the Underworld closed, the Shadowslayer must deal with his guilt, the guild’s threat, and the changes between Talia and him.

  • Folks, basically what Faith is telling you is, cut it down to the basics, and make those basics interesting. I learned about hooks from RPGs, where they perform much the same function as they do in stories. You’ve got to get people interested enough to read your book/risk their character on a risky venture.

    What is your story about? Put it in a sentence. When they’ve heard the sentence you can add more in the following paragraph.

    A Package From the Lesser Days

    Hrkt family factor Jrf needs to secure a shipment that’s delayed in transit. Wizards are interested in the contents, as are Yr city authorities. Then there’s the fact one of the Hrkt unicorns has a split beak, and he’s been given responsibility for the stallion. Can Jrf locate the package, fend off rapacious wizards and officials, and secure healing for the unicorn?

    If they want more detail you can expand on the information given above.

    Yr is a port city located on the north shores of the Wolf Folk Sea. Which is, in turn, located on the world of Ki in a universe sort of catty-corner from our own. Ki has dragons, orcs, elves, barbarians, nomads, goblins, and the Wolf Folk dwelling in a world with a medieval level of technology and sociology at best.

    The Yrn -as they call themselves- speak a language with no vowels -as we know them. Doesn’t mean they don’t have vowel sounds, it’s just that they use “vowelized” constanents (sic). They are successors of sorts to earlier inhabitants, a race of werewolves known as the Wolf Folk. The Yrn trade with most anybody, and have a wide flung mercantile empire with colonies along the shores of the Wolf Folk Sea and points yet further away.

    Jrf is a member of the Hrkt trading family assigned to locate and secure an errant package. A package other people are looking for as well. He is married -with children, and he’s been assigned a unicorn stallion for his personal use. Which means he gets to pay for the animal’s care and upkeep.

    Ki unicorns are proto-mammalian herbivores of horse like appearance, and the traditional unicorn horn. They also have beaks in place of incisors, covered by fleshy lips. They can be feisty, flighty, tough as nails, and prone to all sorts of ailments and accidents.

    A Package From the Lesser Days is story of mystery, intrigue, daring-do, skullduggery, dark magic, obscure Yrn laws, and visits to the veterinarian with a reluctant unicorn and the children who are doing a yeoman job of turning him into the family pet. Intended for people who like this sort of thing.

    Using the above as an example, let’s see what you can do. :)

  • Sweet. Thanks for the fix’s, Faith. I’ll practice this in case I get the chance to use it at Worldcon.

  • I was so excited, I used a possessive instead of a plural for fix. ha ha

  • Alan, very good. You want to hook then get them to ask to see more…

    NGDave, Good luck! Practice in front of mirror, while shaking hands, etc…

  • I’m gonna try to fix it and send it on again. Figured if CE’s was too long then so was mine. Just too much going on in the book to try to touch upon. I may even rethink which highlights I wanna touch on and retry.

    The Orcs likely did eat the email because my sis was supposed to have sent me a long email as well and I never got it. :\