I’ve been fortunate to be chosen as a #PitchWars mentor this year. Words cannot adequately describe the excitement I feel, so I will have to resort to GIFs.
That being said, I know there are hundreds, even thousands of authors who are where I was just twelve short months ago: unagented. But, last June, as I recuperated from Lyme disease, I began to investigate a tidbit of information I had heard about writing contests on Twitter. I found an amazing community of writers who knew about pitching.
Pitching? Sure! I played softball in high school.
But that wasn’t what these writers were talking about! #PitMad, #Pit2Pub, #PitchWars, oh my! This was the opportunity I was looking for! But there was a problem. Pitch a book in a Tweet? In a really short sentence? 140 characters? You gotta be kidding me!
I studied the art form that is Twitter Pitching (Twitching). I learned from the people getting favorited. I read blogs, posts, followed the people running the contests. I became a Twitter sponge. And I pitched.
And it paid off in 18 requests during #Pit2Pub in July of 2015. 18!
I received three offers of publication from small presses, which in turn increased the interest agents had in my work. After a flurry of agent reads, I signed with Susan Miller of Donaghy Literary. YAY!!
None of this would have been possible if I didn’t master the pitch. So, how do you pitch to guarantee maximum results?
- Do not use a pitch to compare your work to the HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, HARRY POTTER or THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. (or any other popular work) What makes you DIFFERENT?
- Pick the main plot arc to pitch. You don’t have room for subplots.
- Answer the following questions: What is your main character’s objective, what is he/she willing to risk, and what will happen if he/she fails?
- Write two or three pitches for each work, viewing the objective/problem from different angles.
- Do tell us what makes your character special.
- Finally, read every single word and decide if you really need them.
Give us examples, you say? Sure!
Here are the pitches I used for my ms, CHILDREN OF DANU.
- Hidden in New York City, Donal has no idea he is a Fae immortal bred by the Goddess Danu to defend the gates between the Otherworld and Earth. #pit2pub #YA #SFF
- Enabled teen Donal is skipping school and doing his best to flunk out when his strange new magic abilities begin to emerge. #pit2pub #YA #SFF
- When his twin sister is kidnapped on the eve of their 16th birthday, Donal learns his parents have kept secrets about his immortal destiny. #pit2pub #YA #SFF
All of these pitches focus on Donal’s main problem, but from different angles. They don’t discuss his love interest (he has one), his immortal foster parents, or the quartermaster that is forced to mentor him. These are great details for the synopsis, but the pitch’s purpose in life is to be the worm on the hook.
If you want to write a pitch that delivers, don’t try and cram the entire plot into 140 characters. Just dangle the juicy bite. You’ll be guaranteed that your pitch isn’t a miss.