Thursday, September 5, 2013

Writing Tips: Pitches Part II

In honor of #Pitmad, the "After the Madness Twitter Pitch Party" coming up on Twitter on September 12 (Check out author Brenda Drake's blog for more details), I thought I would do a quick post about pitches in general. 

Pitching is something all new writers are faced with at some point. If you attend a writer's conference and want to get some face time with an agent or editor and tell them about your book, chances are they are going to want you to pitch it to them. This means they want a (usually) one sentence blurb about your book (aka, an "elevator" pitch). One sentence! you say. That's impossible--my book has several characters, a plot, some subplots, lots of twists and turns and a surprise ending--there's no way I can sum it all up in one sentence! Well, too bad. That's what agents and editors want and if you can't do it, you might lose your chance with said agent or editor. Part of being a good writer is good writing of course but it's also the ability to sum up your book enticingly, market it, and promote it. If you can't do those things then it makes people in the book publishing industry a little wary. 

Sometimes pitching can be more than one sentence, thought. When it comes to contests, whether they be on blogs or agency/publishing websites, the rules always vary. I've entered three paragraph, one paragraph, three sentences, and even five word pitches! It all just depends. Whatever the length of the pitch is, you have to be able to decide what the most important aspect of your books is, get it into the required pitch space, and make it not only grammatically correct but also enticing. Your pitch needs to grab the reader and make them want to buy and read you book. 

Sometimes pitches can be like movie posters, too. For example, the pitch for JAWS 2 was: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water... 

And sometimes pitches can be comparisons like, MEAN GIRLS meets THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. 

Twitter pitches, however, are a whole other game. When agents want you to pitch on Twitter they usually want you to use a hashtag and include the genre and audience of your book. Well Twitter only gives you 140 characters to work with so you have to be able to fit a very short pitch in to whatever space is leftover after you fill in your hashtag and genre/audience info. I did a Twitter pitch recently and it wasn't easy! I was able to find a few different ways to sum up my novel that enticed from a couple of different angles of what my MS is about. One or two of those tweets were a success, getting "favorited" by a literary agency assistant and a couple of editors for small publishing houses. When that happens whoever favorites your tweet wants you to send your query to them referencing the Twitter pitch. 

Whatever way you decide to pitch your book, I wish you luck. Pitches are scary and thrilling and challenging all at once! I hate coming up with them but I love when they work. I've heard many seasoned writers and agents out there say more than once that it takes many different skill sets to be a good writer. You have to be able to write a book, a query, a synopsis, a pitch, and a proposal and they all are incredible different from one another. But with practice, patience and the support of the many wonderful people in the writing community, you can you get through it.

Thanks for reading! Comment away..