Monday, October 10, 2011

Had enough pitch contests? Me, neither.

No, not that kind
Just today I was listening to Writing Excuses talk about pitching (and excellent advice it was, too) and thinking I really ought to try to rewrite my pitch. Again. To simplify it. Or something. But how to tell if my new pitch was doing the job?

Then my awesome blog friend Nancy Thompson posted (on her blog) about Lisa L. Regan's pitch contest. Which starts today, and runs through next Monday, October 17, 2011. Kismet, right?

So check it out--this is what Lisa says about the contest:
To Enter:
You must be a follower of [Lisa's] blog and provide a link to either a tweet or a blog post spreading the word about this contest.
You must have a completed novel. Your novel MUST be finished to enter this contest.
Write a 50 word paragraph that is the hook for your book. Basically pitch your book in fifty words.

Post your 50 word pitch in the comments section of my blog with a TITLE and your contact info before the closing date of the contest.


Jeanie [Pantelakis of Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency, Lisa's agent] will choose three finalists. The finalists will send her a synopsis of their book as well as their full manuscript. From those three finalists, Jeanie will choose one manuscript and that manuscript will get a full read and a possible contract with Sullivan Maxx.

Pretty cool, huh?

So here's my new 50 word pitch for the contest. I've cut out a lot of stuff that I used to have in my pitches, in the hopes that 1) it won't be quite as confusing, and 2) lack of confusion will lead to more "tell me more" reactions. According to the Writing Excuses team, the elevator pitch (which, depending on how fast you talk, might actually be longer than 50 words), is only supposed to catch their interest and make them say "tell me more." Like most authors, I've struggled (and wrestled, and boxed, and played high-stakes strip poker) with this concept. How can I possibly condense the complex wonder that is my very long novel to one-or-two interesting core concepts? I've tried before, and I'll likely try again. This is my most recent effort:

Brina, like all pixies, can make her own drugs – er, dust. Which the humans appreciate, even if no one can quite get used to Brina’s brown skin, courtesy of her Hispanic human mother. But there’s dust and dust, and a hybrid shouldn’t be suddenly able to make all eight kinds.

So what do you think? Do you want to hear more or are you going "meh" right now? I'm going to enter this in the contest in a couple minutes, but please feel free to suggest improvements. There bound to be another contest sometime! :)


  1. I love your story (I've read parts before). This pitch isn't quite there. I just can't grasp what your story is about. I would just narrow in on the plot and remove the descriptions. We don't need to know she's part Hispanic here and I don't get the hybrid bit and the eight kinds of dust. Stay with what moves the story. I hope that helps - and doesn't confuse. Good luck with the contest! <3

  2. Thanks, Brenda! Pitching is so hard for me!!

  3. I love the first line. I feel like it is fun and unique. The rest felt a little confusing.

    What I want to know is something like this: Main Character, opening conflict, what or who she is up against, and what needs done for her to triumph.

    I still remember your query from Deana Barnhart's blogfest. You do such a great job of adding VOICE in, I have no doubt you will nail this :)

  4. What a cool contest. Good pitch too. I worked on mine ad nauseum this weekend bc my RWA pitch sessions.

  5. I love that first line, too, but I'm with Brenda. I know the comment about her Hispanic mother is your way of showing that she's a halfbreed, but it just seems really strange there. It doesn't fit. Can you just mention that she's only half pixie and move on to some of the other conflict?

  6. Thanks so much for the feedback, ladies! Keep it coming! You're giving me so much great stuff to think about. And ponder. And sleep on.

    If only my conscious brain could shake out the perfect solution! Argh!

  7. The pitch is missing the basic plot question. What conflict is your pixie involved in. That is vital to a good pitch. (Not that I'm an expert.)

  8. I ended up linking over here from Tara Tyler's Blog. Good luck with this competition. I'm with Brenda and Randy but there are good and unique elements in your story but the pitch needs a bit more work.

  9. Pitch contests are the best! And yours sounds freaking awesome. 50 word ones are SO HARD. Congrats on nailing it!

  10. Randy--Mary Robinette Kowal says her pitch is "Jane Austin with magic." The short pitch isn't the same as the query pitch--it's just designed to make the pitchee say "Hmm. Tell me more." Then you can talk about the conflict, plot, etc. You're right about the query pitch, though.

    Elaine- thanks--I'm still fine tuning it

    Peggy--Yay! Someone liked it! :D

  11. Alas my book isn't quite done, but thanks for posting this. It looks like fun.

    -- david j.

  12. Found you from Shelley's blog. Nice to meet you!