If I can pitch live and survive, so can you!

I wrote thousands of words, edited thousands more, and now you want me to tell you about my book in one or two sentences?

Okay. Would you like to read the query letter?

Oh, that’s not the same thing?

Oops. Okay.

So how do you transform your entire book into one or two snappy sentences?

It takes time, preparation, and practice.

A pitch is a condensed version of your story that you can share in a short amount of time.

What is the pitch’s goal? To intrigue them to ask questions about your story and/or request material.

While the query letter is a vital piece of your submission package, it can be a foundation to condense the story more. However, I do suggest perfecting the query before moving on to the pitch.

Throughout this entire writing journey, I have learned that a pitch is powerful stuff – like superhero level powerful!

And guess what? Once you have mastered your pitch, you can do anything.

Well, you definitely can share it on social media during pitch contests and participate in live pitches with agents and editors.

Last weekend I attended the Author-Preneur Workshop hosted by the Corvisiero Agency in Red Bank, NJ. I also signed up for live pitches. This was new territory for me and I had my fair share of freak-out moments before I even arrived at the workshop.

We all want (and need) to answer that nerve-racking question (in-person).

“So what’s your book about?”

You don’t want to do this…

Or this…

And especially not this…

You want to be concise, confident, and prepared.

Based on my experience and what I learned during this opportunity, I put together a few tips that I hope others will find helpful.

My Live Pitch Tips

  1. Before you sign up to pitch, make sure you have the following ready: query letter, synopsis, and, of course, your book.
  2. Know the main elements of your book.
    1. Name of your book
    2. Age/Genre
    3. Protagonist
    4. Climax/Conflict
    5. Something Unique
  3. Craft your draft pitch using a simple formula.
    1. [BOOK TITLE] is a [age/genre] about [main character + description] who [conflict/climax]. And try to weave in that unique factor too.
    2. Here’s my first draft: A FEATHER’S FORCE is a YA fantasy about a hybrid girl who must save her best friend before she ends up as the king’s next fatal science experiment.
    3. Comps are good. If you have a couple of those, have them in your back pocket.
  4. Use a SCRIPT to practice from – not memorize. Seriously. Write down what you think you want to say, then practice it out loud. Ask yourself: Does this make sense? What’s missing? How can I transform this into a conversation? You don’t need to memorize this and read it like a robot. A script is a useful tool to get the words flowing.
  5. Revise your pitch and time yourself. Live pitches are timed, so be focused on what you want to say right away. Push aside any unrelated questions or conversation. I participated in 10-minute pitches, which flew by. There are some out there that are only 3-minutes. This is speed networking and you must be prepared to sell yourself and your book in a short amount of time.
  6. Keep practicing out loud to yourself AND others. I really stress this. The whole week leading up to the workshop, I pitched my book to almost everyone. My co-workers, my family, my friends, and even a couple random people in the elevator. It is an elevator pitch, right? This practice will smooth out your pitch and help you figure out how it can be more natural to discuss.
  7. Know your audience. Once you decide you want to pitch, select your agent/editor audience with purpose. Seek out a potential match for you AND your book. Take time to learn about their wish lists, what they represent, and anything else that would be professionally helpful.
  8. Anticipate questions and prepare your own questions. Remember, you’re the expert on your story. Questions may be anything. Examples: What is the world like? How did you get this idea? What else are you working on? You also should have a couple of questions ready for them, if there’s time.
  9. Expect evolution and criticism. Your pitch may vary depending on who you’re talking with and how the conversation goes. Stick to your main points and you will be fine. You also may not find a match. While it’s tough to receive rejections via email, I think it’s tougher to receive rejections in person. Stay composed and be professional. How many times have you heard that this industry is subjective? One person may not think it’s the book for them, but the next may be the perfect fit. Don’t get disheartened. Above all, enjoy sharing more about your story – that’s the best part of the process.
  10. Stay positive! Believe in your writing. Stop comparing yourself to others. Always remember that every writer’s journey is different for a reason.

Now just go for it. Once you have crafted your pitch, you will feel like you have a secret weapon and/or a superpower. The next time you’re asked, So what’s your book about? You will be more than ready!

Craft that pitch and good luck in your journey!

BTW – Ava Jae has a great vlog How to Write an Elevator Pitch on this subject, which truly helped me.

And you must check out upcoming Author-Preneur Workshops from the Corvisiero Agency. So many incredible connections!

PS – Oh yeah. Wondering how it went for me? I did get requests for materials from 3 out of the 4 pitches.

For more about pitches, check out Brenda Drake’s post. “The 35-word and Twitter Pitch…simplified”  If you’re thinking about participating in a pitch contest, please do your research on agents and publishers before sending in your material. Here’s a post by Claribel Ortega on this subject.

There are several opportunities for Twitter Pitch Parties, such as:

There are also Blog-Based Contests, such as those found on SavvyAuthors.com and PassorPages.

Advertisements

Pitch Wars 2017 #PimpMyBio YA Fantasy

Is it Pitch Wars time? Yay! So excited to meet new friends and learn about your awesome stories. Before we go any further, give yourself a hand, a pat on the back, a thumbs up…you wrote a book! GOOD JOB!

Check out more details about Pitch Wars, an awesome contest from Brenda Drake on her website. This is an excellent time of year to improve your writing craft, learn about agents and publishers, and connect with other writers, mentors, and freelance editors. If you’d like to see other #PimpMyBio posts, visit Lana Pattinson’s blog.

Cheers! My name is Jacy and I’m entering Pitch Wars with a YA fantasy for the…third time!

I have learned a major component of writing is to never give up!

I love everything fantasy and sci-fi, having grown up in the 80s and 90s among the Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Legend, The Princess Bride, and Return to Oz.

Some of my favorite shows from that time included Sailor Moon, X-Men, and Gargoyles. I best relate to Sailor Mercury – sweet, practical, and a little shy – until I get to know you. Authors that I love include Anne McCaffrey, Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling.  A few of my favorite books include Shadowshaper, The Grisha Trilogy, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Help, and Eragon.

Recently, I learned I’m a Xennial, a micro-generation of people born between 1977 and 1983 who survived the analog-digital transition. To round off this generation identification, I possess both cynicism and optimism, which describes me fairly well on most days. I also enjoy beer, bacon, and books – sometimes at the same time!

During college, I joined the student newspaper and really had a chance to flex my writing muscles. My journey to writing led to editorials, news stories, satirical newspaper editions, and meeting my future husband too. Totally worth it!

I earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and a minor in journalism. Eventually, I went on to earn a master’s in environmental policy and management. I’m proud to be a certified recycling professional – yes, it’s a thing. I took an exam and everything!

ABOUT MY MANUSCRIPT

Since I grew up in the 80s and 90s, most of my inspiration comes from such influences. I consider my story a crossover event of X-Men and The Neverending Story.

 

My story, A FEATHER’S FORCE, is a YA arcanepunk fantasy about a 16-year-old track star who discovers she inherited her super speed ability from another realm. This story is for readers who loved GRACELING’s fiercely independent heroine and INKHEART’s lush, whimsical portal fantasy world.

Here’s some #novelaesthetics of my story:

I’ve been working on this story for three years with a major overhaul in January 2017, thanks to an incredible editor, Lyla Lawless. She helped me discover the potential in my story and gave me valuable advice to improve my craft and make my story stronger. Seriously, look her up! I also have a dedicated CP/editor, Nicole D’Arcangelo, who has been by my side for the past several months.

I won a first page critique from the awesome Heather Cashman during the Pitch Wars workshop, which you can find here. Her feedback was super helpful and I’ve already revised my first chapter. I’m so excited about it!

Now, I’m ready to emerge from the revision cave and share this story!

We all need heartbreaking critiques

Writing is a tough journey. The path in a real writing to publishing journey must be long, treacherous and challenging. If it’s none of those things, you are on the wrong path.

walking-sad

After a bazillion revisions on my query, I needed critiques. And did I get some incredible feedback from other writers. They served me something raw, honest and organic. They pointed out the good and the bad. In fact, I needed the type of critiques that broke my heart.

heartbreak

I wallowed from their words and the idea of yet another revision. After a couple of days, I went back to soak in their thoughts, comments and suggestions. They spent so much time on me and I valued their feedback. Apparently, I had focused too much on plot (it read like a synopsis) and less on voice. So I got back to editing, it actually was easier.

writing

We all need heartbreak because we get so wrapped up in our own work that we fail to see it anymore. Just like those agents and publishers looking for stories subjectively, we as writers are also subjective about our own stories. We need someone else to help us down the path and point out the beautiful things we failed to see before.

water

Heartbreak makes us wiser and stronger. And we must continue down our path no matter how long, treacherous and challenging it seems. Never give up!

strong-gif

Some random tips:

  • Take advantage of feedback from others, but don’t oversaturate yourself.
  • Learn what you can from the feedback, but always stick to your voice and your story.
  • Seek out query critique giveaways or opportunities.
  • Visit the Successful Queries page for examples.
  • Check out the archives in Query Shark.
  • Search Twitter hashtags for tips: #tenqueries | #10queries | #querytip

Feel free to comment with your links, tips and opportunities!

When Life Happens, Writers Keep Writing

So when major life things happen, I don’t know about you, but my writing stalls. My mind goes fuzzy and I lose my creative focus.

Just in the last three months, my life has included two funerals, a wedding, a new career, and a move to a new city with my husband, two kids and three-legged cat. Of course, my writing paused. But hitting that button again hasn’t been easy. I am thankful to have met a few amazing writers in my new city. This connection encouraged me to continue writing no matter what life throws at you.

Other stories kept me company too. Any downtime, especially between funerals, I escaped to other worlds. I finished THE RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard, finished THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson and started THE AWAKENING by Kelley Armstrong. I also bought the GAME OF THRONES set.

And then there’s the awesome Twitter community. I’ve tried to keep up with weekly line games, participated in a few contests, and even met new writer friends. Needless to say, I haven’t given up on my writing. I even started a new WIP about dragons, which excites me so much! However, I haven’t given up on my first novel and started querying recently.

No matter what, don’t give up on your writing. Use life’s moments – good or bad – as encouragement for your craft. Writing is an art. Whether private or public, writing is an outlet for your emotions, nightmares and dreams.

When life happens, writers keep writing.

Seeking my opening line

The opening line of a novel is one of the worst struggles for writers.

It has been my worst obstacle ever since I started writing my manuscript. I have changed it so many times, but still haven’t found the one. Here I am, still revising and searching.

giphy

There are so many types of opening lines out there.

Inspirational

Impactful

Simple

Vivid

Surprising

Or, perhaps, opening lines are a combination of these.

As a part of my journey, I have researched other lines for my own inspiration. If you’d like to check out some ideas here are a few:

100 Best First Lines of Novels

38 Best First Lines in Novels

Hook, Line and Sinker

I went to my TBR pile and listed first lines out of the following books:

I hate First Friday. – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache. – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed. – The Magicians by Lev Grossman

When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic. – The Selection by Kiera Cass

So, here is where you come in. The next step of my mission to find the opening line is to ask my writer friends to read the following potential lines and vote for their favorite. Or, come up with another version. Friendly critiques are welcome!


Line 1: I stared at the blue door with anguish.

Line 2: The blue door that once gave me passage for comfort, now wrenched my heartstrings.

Line 3: The other side of this blue door would never be the same.

Line 4: The blue door never stood in my way before now.


And for perspective, here is the rest of the opening after the first line:

Today would be the first time I entered the coffee shop without seeing my dad behind the counter. Through the cracked window, I watched the busy morning picking up. Business as usual. Another customer breezed past me and swung open the blue door without hesitation. My chest rattled and a tingle encroached my skin. A savory medium roast escaped through the old door and cloaked my senses, attempting to hug my soul. But the distinct coffee fragrance was absent of my dad’s presence.


Thank you for your time! If I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out.