But that’s exactly what I did when I joined YA LitChat’s “An Agent for the Holidays” pitch event.
Luckily for me, I’ve had a few nibbles, so it was definitely worth doing. (It’s running until December 12, by the way, so get on to it!). But wow, was it nerve wracking!
Later, as the pages of pitches mounted up and curiosity got the better of me, I started reading through all the pitches from dozens of writers. Some stories really appealed to me, others weren’t my kind of thing.
Reading the pitches gave me an insight into how an agent might feel when they open their emails. Some stories are going to give them a thrill of delight and they’ll want more, others will have them shaking their heads, trying to make sense of it.
I can tell you, after reading a few pages of pitches, I started skimming the ones that didn’t grab me right away. Isn’t that horrible of me to admit that? Yep. But, guess what? I’m human. After a while, there’s only so much I can take in. I bet this happens to agents as well. (Plus, I noticed someone else had a similar idea to mine, which is always going to happen because there’s no such thing as a new idea, just a different way of telling an old story.
Six sentences can’t possibly do your novel justice, but it is enough in some cases to give an agent the flavor of your book. Plus, even if you’re not looking for an agent, putting the essence of your novel into six sentences is a terrific way to keep the focus.
BUT - if you’ve never written a pitch, and you’ve never read what other writers do, where the heck do you even start?
Read through the pages on An Agent for the Holidays and take note of the pitches appeal to you. Break down what they've done. Have they explained everything? Most likely not. Instead, they've explained enough to give you the general idea.
Plus, what appeals to you (mysteries, suspense, revenge) will not appeal to everyone. There will be pitches there that make you wonder why an agent hasn't asked for more, while others are getting lots of attention. Ultimately this comes down to personal taste, and as we all know, publishing is so subjective.
Also, find agents who blog, and read their archives. They will often post examples of pitches that have piqued their interest.
Kristin Nelson at http://pubrants.blogspot.com.au/ is a prime example. Scroll down the side bar of her blog and you’ll see a whole swag of queries that worked for her.
The more examples you read of successful pitches, the more tuned in you will become. You’ll start to see a pattern developing. The inciting incident, for example (sometimes called the ‘plot catalyst’ for without that moment, the rest of the story cannot happen). The basic needs and goals of the main character. What’s stopping them or what's in their way?
So, now you know how to get started, what’s stopping you?
~Ebony McKenna author of the Ondine series. The Ondine books are a sparkling combination of romance and magic – perfect for teen girls. Written with genuine humour and unique eccentricity, the series is an obvious choice for fans of The Princess Bride and Ella Enchanted.