Monday, July 10, 2017

Pitching your novel

So, it's just around the corner...Pitch Wars! Hurrah! This annual contest is great, so it means you have to get your pitch in order. However, Pitch Wars isn't the only contest that runs through the year. There are floods more, from Sun vs Snow, #PitMad, #KidPit, #DVPit, and so the list goes on. Because there are so many, this means that a writer needs to prepare a pitch. Actually, they'll need to do more than one, as there are various types of pitch:

1) A Twitter pitch - 140 characters or less, including the hashtags (usually including the contest hashtag, the age category, and sometimes the genre if it fits).

2) The elevator pitch - this gives a little more room to expand your pitch and add in some details.

3) Your query letter - this is where you can get into a little more meat - basically, it should read like the blurb of the back of a book.

Now, I'm not going to be greedy and talk about how to do all of these pitches myself, as I'm sure my fellow YATopia bloggers are going to have some super good advice to give you. But let's have a look at the Twitter pitch.

Lots of writers panic over a Twitter pitch. 140 characters, you shout? But hey, you took some of those away when you added the hashtags! I don't have 140 characters anymore. Good point. However, it is what it is, and we writers just have to get creative - because that's our job. When it comes to writing a Twitter pitch, most people have seen the general layout:



When CHARACTER learns/does/discovers CATALYST they must overcome OBSTACLE or STAKES.

There are plenty of other versions of these Twitter pitch formats. However, there are other ones that do well, too. For example, you can do the comp title pitch. Word of warning: Don't pitch two titles that are too similar (e.g. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS meets BEFORE I DIE). This doesn't show your market as the books are too similar. You need to show something fresh. For example: BONE GAP meets GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE (I'm not sure how that could be written, but if you have written that, it's going to catch someone's eye!). You also need to be careful of using comp titles that are too big (e.g. HARRY POTTER meets THE HUNGER GAMES). This is the equivalent of saying "my book is going to be a huge best seller and make lots of money" in a query letter. Your book may very well end up being that, but for now, keep it realistic. Otherwise, you'll make agents shy away.

The other thing to remember is to add a hint of what is unique about your book. What is the wow factor? What has your book got that everyone else's doesn't have? Now this is hard, I know that. But think of books like THE SCORPIO RACES for example - vicious sea horse races to the death? Wow. Or THE LUNAR CHRONICLES - science fiction fairytale retellings? Uh, double wow. This is super important, because you need to hook your agents trolling the contest feeds,

When it comes to pitching on Twitter, take time to think about your pitches. Don't just throw one together without much thought. Boil down your book to its essence. What is it your book is about? Not all the subplots. Not all the characters. Not all the generic "or the world will end", or "she will lose her true love". Give the agent something to catch their eye. "Children fight to the death" (we all know what that book is).

Sit down with your CPs and brainstorm. Root through your query letter for ideas. Re-read your book and pay attention to your core theme. Look through your synopsis. Do whatever it takes. Catch an agent's eye, and you're one step closer to becoming a published author!

Most importantly though...have fun!

Good luck Twitter pitch warriors!

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