Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pitching Day 2 - Know what you have

I am still amazed at writers that use cards when reading because they don't want to forget something about their story. What? They don't know their story? Sure, many writers will claim it is nerves but I have a hard time believing that a story they've been working on for anywhere between 3 months to three years (and even beyond) is easy to forget. You don't need the card.

What you do need is to know is your story and when I talk about this, I mean more than simply the storyline. Most of you have that one down. There is much more to your story that we need to know.

THE GENRE - This is a big one and apparently many writers out there have no clue what genre they are writing in. Just because there is little or no romance in the story does not put it in women's fiction. I have seen this a lot lately. If it is about your life and you just changed the name of the characters it is a biography. Sorry to break that one to you.

THE THEME - This is your purpose for writing the story. What is it that you want the reader to walk away with after reading your book. Sure, some stories are fun and light reads but there should still be a theme to the story.

THE GMC - Why do your characters really do the things they do? I often stop writers in the middle of a pitch and ask why they would do something and they look stunned. They don't have an answer. Hmmmm, what does this tell us about their writing?

YOUR VOICE - Your voice is key. You have heard me rant about this before but each writer has their own unique voice. It may be similar to other writers but there is something that makes your story stand out amid all the others. Do you know what it is? I am still amazed at how many writers just don't get this. They tell me their writing is similar to two authors that are far from the same. It would be like saying "this dish is very similar to Thai cuisine and Italian Gelato" Huh??????

Now, when I say you need to know this information, you should be able to answer questions at any time. Be ready to approach your story from any angle necessary depending on who you are pitching to.

More tomorrow - Professionalism


  1. Scott, thanks very much for these pitching posts!

    Even though I'm nowhere near ready to pitch or query, you're helping me develop my WIP and tailor it realistically for the publishing world.

    I've been reading faithfully for weeks now and your blog is so very helpful and informative. Thanks again!

  2. Good advice!

    I've only ever been at one conference to pitch, and I didn't use a card, but I did repeat what I wanted to say in my head for hours as I waited in line for the agents/editors I wanted. I think one reason for the cards wouldn't be so much that we don't know our story, but that, as writers, we're OBSESSED with having the perfect words, and we're afraid we're going to forget that one perfect turn of phrase when we are face to face with you!

  3. Beth,

    There is nothing wrong with having the "right words" but the stronger idea would be having "the right ideas." How many different ways can you really tell me the plot of your story? How many different ways really can you tell me what makes your story unique? The thing is, just tell it to us.