I’ve been nagging one of my personal coaching students to complete the pitch (query letter) for her novel. Yes, she could publish it as an ebook, BUT the book’s wonderful; she needs an agent. Which means pitching — and she’s nervous.
If you ever needed a reason to begin your novel by writing the blurb, it’s querying. Writing a blurb first just makes pitching easier. I know she can do this, and over the weekend we’ll have a long brainstorming session which will help.
Pitching isn’t easy. However, the more you do it, the easier it gets. The thought of pitching no longer bothers me, but when I first started writing several decades ago, writing query letters made me feel physically ill. If I got over it, you can too.
Here’s an excellent outline of a pitch, Writer Beware Blogs!: Guest Post: Dear Agent — Write the Letter That Sells Your Book:
“1. Take your main character (MC) and give him/her an epithet… eg vengeful divorcee, desperate aspiring author;
2. Identify the MC’s central mission/problem/fear and what he stands to lose if he fails.
3. Brainstorm words and phrases that your book conjures up, including themes, moods, actions.
4. Pick the 25-30 that sound most compelling.
5. Pick the 5-8 of those that sound even more compelling then the others.
6. Fashion those ingredients into a tight, heart-tugging 25-word pitch.
7. Include wolves.”
#7 is optional. 🙂
Here’s what I’ve found useful.
Write about your book, in your journal
Pretend you’re writing an email message to a close friend. Tell him what he’ll get out of the book: “you’ll be scared. You’ll fall in love with the hero. You should see the mess they get into, when they…¦”
Write quickly. Don’t think about it. Don’t take your fingers from the keyboard — or your pen from the paper if you’re writing by hand.
Once you’ve described your book, describe the characters. What are their goals? How does each character change?
Tip: this exercise is useful at every stage of writing. If you’re just starting your book, write about it. If you’re stuck, write about it. When you’re revising, write about it.
I keep a book journal for every book I write. I started doing this because I always seem to be doing 101 things at once (I’m a Gemini), and sometimes three or four days go by when I can’t work on my book. Keeping a journal helps me to stay in the book — I can review my thinking, and get back into the same state of mind.
Pitching won’t kill you
I promise. 🙂 Write your pitch, even if you feel nauseous. Get a friend to review it for you. Better yet, hire an editor to review it.
Then send it out.
Here’s the worst that can happen: agents completely ignore you. (This is highly unlikely, if you send your pitch out often enough.)
That’s not so bad.
Should you send your pitch to one agent at a time?
I’m often asked whether you should send your pitch out to many agents simultaneously.
You can do whatever you feel is best. However, I suggest one agent at a time. Research the agent online first. Read her/ his blog. Study the agent’s client list.
Personalize your letter/ email message, to ensure that the agent knows that you’re not sending out a mass email. Write something like:
“I enjoyed your blog post on _________ (whatever. Tell her why you enjoyed it.) _____ (Author name) is one of my favorite authors, I loved his ________ (whatever) book.”
Pitching won’t kill you, and it’s not rocket science. Do enough of it, and you’ll enjoy it. 🙂