Monday, October 13, 2014

Pitch Perfect

Six days.

2:08 pm on Saturday.

If you guys could say a little prayer for me right around that time, I sure would appreciate it. Because that’s when I will be sitting across a table from a...(wait for it)...

Literary Agent.

Like, a real live one. Her name is Kaylee Davis. And I’m pitching my book to her at the James River Writers Conference!


Okay, I’m all right now.

(I’m not, but let’s just carry on, shall we?)

So in preparation for my Big Meeting (which shall last 7 minutes) I have been doing some research on pitching. I have watched Pitchapalooza videos, read blogs by agents, read do’s and don’ts lists, and gone cross-eyed trying to make sense of it all. Here are a few valuable little nuggets of wisdom I have picked up in my research:

1. Keep it under a minute.

2. It’s okay to go over a minute, just don’t take TOO long.

3. Memorize it.

4. Read it so you don’t forget anything.

5. Give a whole synopsis- beginning, middle, and end, so the agent knows exactly what they’re getting.

6. Just give a hook- make them want to know more.

7. Just relax. It’s like meeting a new friend.

8. Be professional. After all, this is a business meeting.

9. Agents never end up representing authors they meet from pitch sessions at writing conferences, so don’t even bother.

As you can see, some conflicting stuff there. As with most things in life, it just depends on who you ask. So, I had some decisions to make: which advice to take, which to ditch for my pitch?

Obviously I will ignore #9. It might be true but I don’t care. I’m doing it anyway.

As for the rest, I’m planning on doing a little of each. I’d like to keep my pitch brief so I don’t lose the agent’s attention and so that there’s plenty of time for us to chat afterward. But I don’t want to sound like the Micro Machine man, either. And I want to give as much info as I can so we don’t have to waste time on questions I could have easily answered in my pitch. So I’m thinking 2-3 minutes is a good amount of time.

I am going to have my pitch in writing, but I am pretty good at reading while making it sound natural and keeping good eye contact with people. I’ve practiced. My pitch is a combination of a summary and some teasers, so I hope it will give the gist of the book without giving too much away.

As for the casual vs. professional I will lean more toward professional, mostly because Ms. Davis is a business professional and I want to show respect for her work and her position, but I think there is a way to do that while still being warm and making the experience enjoyable.

Okay, so now I need YOUR help:

Here is my pitch. I decided to throw a taste of the voice from my book in there because A) I liked the pitches I heard that had that and B) It helps it be memorable. Can you read it and give me some feedback? (Right now as I read it, it’s clocking in at 2:45.)

My book is a Young Adult paranormal mystery romance that sits at 83,000 words.

It’s about Kate. Kate is weird. She's sixteen and you know how most kids go through an awkward phase around puberty? Well, Kate's awkward phase started around age 2 and never ended. When her mom realized Kate was...different, she very firmly encouraged her daughter to speak as little as possible. And Kate learned the technique very well. 

Well. Except when she's nervous. Then all bets are off. When she's nervous she can't STOP talking and there's no telling what might come out of her mouth.

Yeah. That's kind of the reason she has no friends. Well, no human friends anyway- there is her horse, Mosby. He is a really good listener. And periodically his whinnies almost sort of sound just like "I love you." 

And then there's the ghost.

Well…calling him a friend might be a stretch. He's kind of obnoxious. And broody. And he may or may not be real. Kate can't really be sure but she really really hopes he is real because she thinks he is like, smokin' hot. 

Yeah, you see what I mean? "Smokin' hot?" Who says stuff like "smokin' hot"? Kate does.

Okay, anyway, the ghost, Samuel Montgomery, is quite handsome and tolerates Kate, which is a better deal than she's had thus far in her mostly friendless life. So what if he might have died during the Civil War?

At least, she hopes it was during the Civil War. He may have actually been murdered in a crime of passion by Kate's own great-great-great-grandmother. Most of the small town of Stonemill seems to lean toward that theory, especially the Montgomerys. Turns out, the murder sparked a whole century-long feud between the two families. Which would have been really nice for Kate's mother to tell her before the divorce crash-landed them there, because then maybe then she would be prepared for all of the ready-made enemies that awaited her at Stonemill High. 

At least Stonemill is a beautiful town- it's in Virginia hunt country- ancient oak trees, crumbling stone walls meandering through rolling fields, and all of it steeped in centuries of history and old money. And by old money I mean the Montgomerys' family fortune, of course.

Luckily, there's Alex. And it's weird that I say "luckily", considering the fact that he's a Montgomery. Kate wasn't sure about him at first- well, to be honest she has a really hard time trusting any human who would actually want to be her friend- but there's just something genuine about him. And kind. And warm. And the fact that he shares her love for horses helps quite a bit, too.

But even Kate's relationship with Alex starts to get shaky as things heat up- and when I say heat up, I mean literally. Talk about "smokin' hot". There's a barn fire, a police investigation, poor sweet Mosby gets carted off to who-knows-where, and Kate begins to worry that she might be insane and just not know it yet. 

Well, you know…not that one ever really knows that one has gone insane. 

Kate's 3rd great-grandmother certainly didn't seem to when she went ballistic and murdered poor Samuel.

Kate's mom just says everything's fine. Just keep your mouth shut and everything is always fine

But Kate can't keep her mouth shut. She has to know if her family's past is as messed up as it seems to be. She has to know if she's destined for the same fate. And to find out, she has to stick her neck out much farther than she ever thought she would, and trust in herself far more than she ever dreamed she could.


  1. I'm excited for you! The book sounds interesting and I want to read it. I like the overall tone, the conflict of the town, and the family drama.

    I have a couple of recommendations to help streamline the pitch:

    I would cut this: "Yeah, you see what I mean? "Smokin' hot?" Who says stuff like "smokin' hot"? Kate does."
    It doesn't seem odd to me for a teenager to say something like that and it takes up time before you get to the conflict of the story.

    Throughout the pitch, cut redundant modifiers. They stuck out to me in the last sentence: "And to find out, she has to stick her neck out much farther than she ever thought she would, and trust in herself far more than she ever dreamed she could."
    Take out "much" in "much further' and "far" in "far more."

    I hope it goes well!

  2. Got better as it went along. sounds good and quirky! I'm sending a prayer that you will have Godly confidence, and that you will have PEACE, no matter the outcome! You go, girl!



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