Start the New Year Off with a Pitch

2011 is just around the corner, and already some exciting new opportunities for writers are stacking up.

Starting January 24, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest will be open for submissions, including your pitch. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance. There is a general fiction category and a young adult fiction category, and last year it was really interesting to read all the entries during the 4 elimination rounds.

One of my crit partners made it through to the semi-finals, and got a lovely Publisher's Weekly review to show for it. I am planning on entering in 2011, if this round of agent submissions doesn't pan out.

The other opportunity to stretch your pitching muscles comes with the launch of the Pitch University site on January 1. Their manifesto lets you know what to expect:

Writer POV:

1. Writers write books.
2. We re-write books.
3. We do not pitch.
4. We do not sum up in "sound bites."
5. That is foreign and evil.
6. We especially do not sum up in person, because we are not salespeople.
7. In fact, sales is never taught in creative writing classes, because it is a totally unrelated career.

The Dilemma:

1. Editors and Agents need us to sum up.
2. So do Readers.
3. They believe us when we say what our book is about.
4. But we suck at this and are apt to stutter, wander, and make something brilliant sound like fragmented (yet earnest) dream-lings of a lunatic mind.
5. Or just something lacking characters, plot, and any hint of conflict.
6. They--the editors, agents, and readers--offer to meet us in public, face-to-face, at conferences, pitchfests, and bookstores.
7. We call this the public land of our suckiness.
8. Because the hardest thing of all is that we actually keep trying to get this right.
9. We love what we do.
10. Enough to learn to pitch.
11. Yeah, that much.
12. Today, we're here at Pitch University, and we are ready to rock.

Sounds good to me--I have a query that I like, but whenever anyone asks, "What's your book about?" I'm left with my mouth hanging open as I fumble for a response that does my story justice. NOT professional, and I used to be a professional storyteller, for Pete's sake! We got a camcorder for Christmas, so now there's no excuse for me not to try this.


Unknown said...

Oooh, this sounds exciting! If you enter, I'm totally rooting for you!

Also, I'm horrible at verbal pitches. What's your story about invariably gets an, "Uh, um, well, there's a girl, and she can make fire--I mean, out of her skin, not just how everyone else can make fire, because that wouldn't be very remarkable, would it?--and...well, it's sort of complicated. How's about I get you my query and you can just read that?"

I will definitely how to check out Pitch University! :)

Good luck with your submissions!

John Baird said...

So many authors struggle to answer the question: "So what's your book about?"
A one sentence answer is all that's needed. Every author should have a soundbite ready roll off the tongue.

Michelle said...

Whoa, sounds really cool. I wonder if we can enter WIPs we're currently querying?

And I suck at sound bites so hard it's almost funny. Conversely, I'm a little good at public speaking! But it's so hard to figure out what to say in the first place. XD

Ava Z. said...

I will have to keep these in mind. I'm terrible at summing up my stories, especially if you toss out the proverbial "in one line" line.

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