Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pitching: It Is All About Word Choice

You have a great story. Your friends, family and critique partners have fallen in love with the project. And now you are out there pitching your story to editors and agents. But something is wrong. Now the excitement for this wonderful story may not be there at all. Editors and agents give you the "deer in the headlight" look and you are now concerned over the quality of the story. The reality is that it is probably all about the pitch and what you are including.

Pitching your story to editors, agents and booksellers is not easy for the simple fact that you have a limited amount of time and you have to convey a lot of information. However, it is really much more than the amount of information. It is how you are saying it. While editors and agents want to know the basic information about your book (plot, characters, conflict and so forth) what they really want to hear is something off the wall exciting. Something that makes them think, "Wow! This person is taking the normal and turning it into something special!"

Now, let me warn you, this is not something you can manufacture. Your story has to already have these elements. It is just up to you to convey this information. This is really the essence of that elusive HIGH CONCEPT.

I was talking about this to one of my clients just recently. She had the chance to meet with some editors while at the RWA Conference and in one situation, she felt that things were just heading in the wrong direction. She was saying everything she needed to say about the project, but the enthusiasm just wasn't there. Fortunately, she had two projects to present and, after realizing her error, she changed her wording. That was when the excitement came through.

Consider for example one of my other client's series. Bronwyn Scott's GENTLEMEN ESCORTS series can either be a flop when it comes to marketing, or something amazing. It is all about the wording!

She could simply say, "These are stories about men who are paid by women to be their companions at parties, only to find they have fallen in love."


"These men are both despised and loved by the members of the Ton as they fulfill women's fantasies and bring out the inner beauty of those who they come in contact with. Their role is not simply sex, but to teach and guide women to find who they really are in the world. "

Now, while both are saying essentially the same thing, the first one is simply plot oriented. Sure, it gives us the information, but that is as far as it goes. The second, does so more eloquently and yet gives us a sense that this story is much more than escorts. It is about life lessons and learning about who we are in the world.

I should note that writing these descriptions is not a matter of just using your thesaurus and coming up with "pretty words." It is about drawing out the unique qualities of your story.

Consider also Harry Potter. We could simply say this is a coming-of-age story about a boy with magical powers who battles forces of evil...BORING!

Or we could say, this story shows how a boy who thought he was nothing becomes the ultimate savior of Hogwarts and all the good that it stands for as he battles what might be the greatest form of evil out there.

Again, while these might not be fully crafted and wordsmithed (I am thinking of this as I go), you can see how the second one has a bit more depth to it.

As you think about your story, what is the "take-away" you want your readers to leave with? What is the big message that makes this unique.

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