Friday, June 8, 2018

Pitch Perfect! Story...Not!

Writers spend a ton of time writing those pitches for conferences and query letters to submit to editors. They will spend hours and hours word-smithing those small blurbs about their stories. While this is certainly a great thing to do and yes, it does get our attention as editors and agents, if you have not taken the same amount of time with your story, you will not get the results you want.

It is always frustrating as an agent to hear a pitch or read a query and think we have discovered the next best thing. When that story shows up, we end up totally frustrated. The writing is not what they proclaimed. The story is far from what they promised. In some cases, the story they pitched is not the story they submitted. So why does this happen?

As I said, authors really don't spend the time necessary to make those stories great. They madly write that story, get mediocre feedback from their critique partners and rush to get that story out to the editors and agents. When it comes to those pitches though, they devote infinitely more time. Writing groups will take an entire weekend in workshops writing and practicing those pitches. Even at the conferences, these writing groups will meet in someone's hotel room and fine tune those pitches even more. The writing, however, is left for "just what it is."

In reality, you should probably be spending double the time on the editing than you do on the writing. More editing, more revision, more feedback. This is what makes the story great.

So, if you are planning on pitching to me or another editor or agent in Denver this summer, and you have not taken the time to work on the story, you might want to think about not pitching and focus your time on the writing.


  1. True but over the years, the closest I ever got to selling was on a manuscript I hadn't edited the life out of it. Can you do a blog on how to know when it is too much editing? I love reading your thoughts so please keep these great blogs coming.

  2. We call them fancy package writers.

    I pitched at the conference in Portland, Oregon last year. While sitting in the 'pit' I overheard that term for the first time. Curious, I asked what they meant.

    A fancy package writer is the equivalent of a bland treat surrounded by pretty packaging. It deceives you but it only deceives you once.

    The puzzling part for me is, the agent's going to figure them out so why do it anyway. But they do.