Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Conference Prep—10 Reasons Pitches Don’t Work

I was going through my files and stumbled across this. I pulled it from Kristin Nelson’s blog months ago. This is all great advice and I need it :)


10 Reasons Pitches Don’t Work

Reason 10: Generic descriptors of the story

Reason 9: Overkill on World Building details and not enough about the story itself.

Reason 8: Explaining that unlike already published SF&F novels, your work has character development

Reason 7: Popular trends (such as Vampires, Werewolves, or Zombies) with no unique take clearly spelled out in pitch

Reason 6: No mention of or insight into the characters who will be driving the story

Reason 5: The manuscript is 250,000 words (or more!) and this is unpublished, debut author

Reason 4: The work is called SF&F but it sounds more like a mystery or thriller or something else.

Reason 3: Convoluted Plot that I can’t follow in the pitch paragraph

Reason 2: SF&F stereotypical archetypes as the “hook”
--the mysterious object
--the unexpected birthright
--the quest
--the villain that has risen again
--exiled to another planet
--mayhem on spaceship to new planet
--Androids with heart of gold
--The main character as the key to saving the world or species
--the just discovered talisman

Reason 1: No hook—or mention of a plot catalyst that is new or original in this genre


Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love #8. That's akin to the queries that state the book is better than the garbage being published. Not great when the agent loves "the garbage being published."

mooderino said...

Excellent list.
Moody Writing
The Funnily Enough

Kyra Lennon said...

Getting a pitch just right is a lot of work. I hope I don't make any of these mistakes!

Cortney Pearson said...

Pitches are definitely tough!

elizabeth seckman said...

Groan...I pitch like I swing a bat...horribly!

Andrea said...

These are great!! a 250,000 word MS? Wow. I can't even imagine...

ilima said...

You'd think this post would be helpful, but it's just making me more nervous for my pitch at LDStorymakers. Eeek.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Focus on the story and not the details, theme, etc. is a good one. I also like the one about what's new about your story, what's your angle, twist etc.

Brinda said...

I think too many pitches I hear are convoluted. It's hard for people to think high level, but that's what you have to do.

Johanna Garth said...

These are great. So often when I read pitches I tune out after the second sentence.

Hope Roberson said...

My pitch is running through my head and I'm sure I've done at least two of those you listed! Impossible not to! Why can't agents just read the entire ms and give thorough comments every time? That would be super helpful ;)

Cassie Mae said...

I totally stink at pitches, lol.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Good stuff here. Are you pitching next week?

Shiela Calderón Blankemeier said...

Excellent advice! I'm going to have to print this out :)

Carrie-Anne said...

250K is a drop in the bucket to me. I like my books as long as possible. I got some counseling at Pitch University last year, and got a lot of great advice on how to pitch and query deliberately very long books, like emphasizing high stakes and a wide story arc, instead of making it seem like smaller things are the main focus. I was also told to leave word count out, so any pitch or query can be judged on opinion of the writing or concept, NOT a modern-day prejudice in some quarters against sagas. More than a few debut published writers have had supersized books. You just have to know who to query, and how.

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

Carrie Anne is impressive. Do you know how many of my books you could fit into 250k? Five or so. FIVE! That is one involved arc!

Pitches CAN work is what you are saying, these things just kill them. Yeah, she's a smart cookie. I'll take her advice.

Stacy Henrie said...

Great points! I also really like Rachelle Gardner's tips for pitching and how to make it more conversational.

Leigh Covington said...

Oooh! This is like being handed a wonderful little treasure! I am totally bookmarking and probably printing too! Love it! And I can't believe it's almost time for SM! I can't wait to finally meet you in person. It's been too long my friend. Too long! :)

Damyanti said...

Helpful list--must check my novel against these.

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