Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ask The Editor: Pitches

What is considered a great pitch?

Recently I took part in the Amazon Breakthrough competition, but unfortunately was not selected to go through to the second round. The initial selection was based on the pitch submitted. Since my story didn't go through to the second round, I'm fairly sure there is something wrong with my pitch. I've attached the pitch for your convenience and I was wondering if you could tell me where I went wrong. This might help me with future submission to literary agents.

Thank you,
Conny Manero
Author of:
Waiting for Silverbird
Kitten Diaries



Dear Connie, while your story sounds interesting, the material you submitted as a pitch reads more like the back cover promo blurb. There is a difference and for many of us getting them right is a bigger challenge than writing the book.

You wrote: Voice of An Angel will touch the hearts and reach the souls of women readers everywhere. The story of young Jessie Green, who struggles to create a better life for herself, will resonate with readers of all ages.

Working as a press operator in a small Laundromat, she becomes friends with another high school drop-out, Betty McGill. As both of their lives take a turn for the better, and they move up in the world, you will cheer them on as they face each new challenge.

The pitch should tell what the story is about, not how great the story is and how readers are going to love it, and it is often started with a one or two sentence “logline”.

For example: Embroiled in a serial murder case, Dallas homicide detectives Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson must come to terms with public and personal racial unrest as they track a serial killer who has his own race card to play.

That is the logline for my novel, Open Season and it is followed by a brief synopsis that tells how the detectives deal with the racial unrest, what caused it, and introduces the mystery.

So, to turn your promo blurb into a pitch, you would need to introduce Jessie and her situation, then be specific about what she faces from there. How does her life and her new friend’s life change for the better and what challenges do they face.

I hope this helps, and good luck with the rewrite of the pitch. I’m sure a root canal has more appeal right now.


Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Her latest books are One Small Victory and Play it Again, Sam. Visit her Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. When she is not working, Maryann loves to play "farmer" on her little ranch in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas.

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  1. Connie and other authors can work on their query letters and openings on Evil Editor's blog:

    It's hilarious and informative.

    Miss Snark's Snarkives are also helpful.

  2. Useful information thank you for the post.

  3. Hadn't really thought about that before. Thank you for bringing it up.
    Blessings, Star


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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