Now, I’m gonna say that I’m not a literary agent. I read books. A lot of books. And websites and stuff. So when Jodie emailed us and submitted an agent query for a pitch slap, I was briefly confuzzled, then nervous, and then I dove in. Here’s my canary stab at talking about agent queries!
For this pitch slap, I’m going to press pause on the blurb itself and instead talk about the stuff around it.
Let’s face it. The best stories are complex, convoluted little things. We love it when fantasy and sci fi attack the usual tropes from new angles and make the weirdest premises feel completely natural. That’s the wonder of it. But trying to put these ideas into a story’s blurb can be a real challenge. There’s barely enough space to write out the bare bones of plot – and that’s without that extra paragraph saying “Wait, wait, this makes sense and it’s actually really cool!” What to do?
But before we get into that, let’s see this week’s blurb from Amy Rareberth Mead’s dark epic fantasy novel, Dragon Marked: Continue reading
Author Elizabeth Krall sent us the blurb for her lighthearted romance novel, Ship to Shore. In her email, she told us that she had used a variety of blurb-writing tools to get the point of her story across as strongly as she could:
“I have tried to incorporate various bits of ‘blurb writing’ advice, such as the use of ‘power words’, keeping it under 175 words and posing questions.”
In this Pitch Slap article, we’ll dive into this nebulous world of blurb writing tricks and talk about what worked and what sank and what swam in this seaside romance. But first… Continue reading
When in doubt, use a third person point of view. It’s that black dress that never goes out of style. But sometimes, you venture into the world of magenta skirts and bright blue collar shirts, and the question of place and time rears its head. Author Sonya Lano came to us with the just such a fashion statement when she sent in a short first-person-point-of-view blurb of her Fantasy novel, “Dance of the Tavyn.”
And in this pitch slap, we’re gonna talk about how you too can be a bright yellow canary and rock a first person point of view.
But first, the blurb itself:
As always, my very first instinct when seeing a pitch (any pitch) is to start trimming, rewording, and tweaking the word choice and sentence structure, even as I start in with everyone’s favorite floating canary bubble questions. Here, however, the usual approach just wasn’t working. Something was off.
It wasn’t the story: political intrigue, silver-haired assassins, what more can you ask for in romantic fantasy? It wasn’t the word choices: a few things to tweak for clarity, sure, but it got the story across. It wasn’t the rhetorical question at the end–though anyone who follows my pitch slaps knows I am all but allergic to them. It wasn’t the first person point of view: different, but fantastic dramatic potential.
Pause. No, back up. It was the first person point of view. No, not the fact that the pitch was written in first person, but rather what the use of the first person meant for the story. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, Madison Woods came to us with a 25-word story pitch to be prodded and yanked as part of our Pitch Slapped series. She’s planning on sending her book out to a publisher soon, and even as she sent her blurb to the sacrificial altar, she asked us…
“Do you think that what publishers and editors look for in a pitch is the same as what readers judge by when they are deciding if they’d want to read a book? Will the same qualities make a reader want to read as make a publisher ask for pages?”
The short answer is yes. Or rather, “almost.” Well, it’s “kinda.” Here’s the longer chirp on the matter… Continue reading
One of my grad school professors told me that any report I handed in had to tell him everything he needed to know in 30 seconds, 3 minutes, and 30 minutes. But when you’re pitching your novel, you’re not writing a 50-page report and you don’t always get 30 seconds. Sometimes, you get 25 words and three seconds to convince the reader your book is on their to-buy list.
Madison Woods, Pitch Slap veteran and the host of “Vote for it: Would You Buy it?” series, came to us with a 25-word summary of her story.
“I’m planning to pitch my book to a publisher in October, and I realize I will have time to give more than the 25 words, but I want the first words I say to hook their interest.”
Let’s take a look at those words:
In this Pitch Slapped article, I’m going to give the blurb a good pecking and talk about the importance of appropriate and deliberate language decisions. Continue reading