Pitchapalooza & 3 Pitch-Writing Tips

Attention, aspiring authors! Nanowrimo and The Book Doctors are accepting entries for their third annual Pitchapalooza until February 28. Now’s your chance to get your novel pitch professionally critiqued AND, if you’re the one lucky winner, be introduced to just the agent you and your book need!

Here’s how it works: you get up to 250 words to pitch your book. Twenty-five pitches are randomly selected and posted online, along with critiques, so everyone can read them and learn from them. The pros pick a winner from the 25 to get an introduction to an agent and the crowd favorite wins a one-hour consultation with the Book Doctors.

Check out the Pitchapalooza webpage for full details as well a list of 10 tips from the Book Doctors on pitch-crafting.

I just submitted my latest and most polished ~200-word pitch yesterday, and now that I’ve met that deadline I want to share with you, in brief, just a few of the things I’ve learned about writing a pitch (the kind that appears in a query letter) for a novel in the last couple weeks:

1. Simple is best. Prevent glazy eye: be concise! For your pitch you want to boil your story down to its most basic elements and simplify, simplify, simplify. Use tight sentences. Name only your most central character(s). The easier your pitch is to follow, the better you keep an agent’s attention and interest.

2. Hit the core elements. To paraphrase agent Janet Reid, your pitch should address these points: 1) Who is the protagonist? 2) What choice does he/she face? 3) What is at stake?

To paraphrase Hallie Ephron: 1) Name your MC 2) Name your MC’s problem, desire, or goal 3) Cite the bad guy, obstacle or situation that stands in between your MC and his/her resolution.

Finally, be sure to name your book and its genre!

3. Include comparative or “comp” titles. There is SO much info out there on this that I think it deserves its own post. Basically, comparative titles are books similar to yours you include at the end of the query **not** strictly for the sake of comparison (i.e., don’t boast about how awesome your book is) but to demonstrate that there is a successful market for books like yours. Also, including comp titles shows you have done your homework. I recommend checking out agent Chip Macgregor’s explanation for more.

Enter Pitchapalooza before February 28. Otherwise, good luck with your pitches and queries, and check back for future posts as I jaunt on through this process myself!

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