Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How to Pitch

Sorry to be so late posting today, but I had a rare migraine headache.

I'm grateful not to suffer from migraines on a regular basis. Once or twice a year, I will have a headache so debilitating that I have difficulty lifting my head from my pillow.

I usually hop out of bed at 5:00 AM, ready to go. This morning, I had to drag myself out of bed at 8:00 in order to make it to the university by 9:00. I felt as though I were sloughing through waist-high Jello all day. About the best I could say for the day was that I stopped by the Health Office and got my free flu shot in less than five minutes.

Agent Kristin Nelson had a great post today titled "Pitching And All That Jazz." Read it here.

Newbie writers frequently make the mistake of trying to cram fifty pounds of synopsis into the ten-pound pitch sack. Kristin starts with the advice most agents give: Your pitch should sound exactly like the back cover copy for your book.

Mine certainly did. Here's the pitch I used for Bad Girl:

Shy teacher Sandy Davis has been spying on her neighbors across the street from her Uptown balcony. It seemed like harmless fun until the night she received a phone call from an anonymous stranger telling her, "You've been a bad girl." Now Sandy must decide whether to give in to his demands, or run the risk of being exposed as a voyeur.

Note: My editor convinced me to change Sandy's profession from teacher to social worker before the book went to print. The change worked because it allowed me to add a scene in which Sandy is threatened by two thugs. That scene grew out of one of my own experiences in the field as a social worker.

My pitch was sixty-two words. It described my hook and set up the central conflict of the story without revealing how the story ends.

Kristin promises to give examples of pitches on her blog "Pub Rants" this week. Be sure to pay attention.

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