Monday, November 19, 2007

The Pitch

As we're focusing on publication, one of the things that's very important is the pitch you prepare for meeting with editors and agents at conferences. It can also be helpful when you meet with published authors and possible future readers when they ask what your book is about. As an example, I thought I would show you the pitch I used for the book I sold, Her Unlikely Family, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Feb. 2008. (In contests, titled Michael's Surrender). Here's what I wrote to use to pitch the story before selling it:

Blue-blood banker, Michael Throckmorton, is looking for his runaway niece. Spirited waitress, Josie Miller, is protecting her. Will Josie help Michael learn to care for his niece, then send them on the road home? Or will the three of them learn that forging a bond might be the road to healing love for them all?

Now here's what the marketing department wrote when promoting the book:

Opposites attract when an uptight banker encounters a free-spirited waitress during the search for his troubled runaway teenage niece. As they work together to heal the young girl's damaged spirit, an unlikely family begins to form...

I don't know right off whether I ever sent them a copy of my pitch or used it in my art fact sheet, but you can see they're pretty similar. Marketing just made it more short and to the point. You can also see that they used a marketing hook: Opposites attract. It's interesting to me that they did that, because that's one of the themes that I tend to use in all my books.

So, what kind of shape is your pitch in? Do you have one? Can you write a short and sweet summary of your story that will hook the listener, and can you possibly include a marketing hook?

Anyone want to share theirs?



  1. My pitch for Petticoat Ranch went something like this:

    A mountain man who has never been around women finds himself married to a feisty lady ranch with four daughters.
    He's just sure he heard the word 'obey' in their wedding vows.

    I felt like the back cover copy and press releases Barbour did caught the tone of the book perfectly.

  2. Good one, Mary! I don't have your book in front of me. Do you remember whether they included any kind of marketing hook? Maybe the cowboy angle?


  3. My pitch for my first medieval romance was "Sleeping Beauty meets Pride and Prejudice when a betrothed prince falls for a woodcutter's daughter whose secret identity endangers them both." A certain editor from a certain publishing house (Harvest House) that I met at an ACFW conference told me that my pitch was very good. In fact, she asked for the full, even though her house doesn't publish medievals. She ended up reading the whole thing and then rejecting it for the very reason she stated to begin with.

    Can you see the puddle of blood underneath my broken heart??? Or is it just melodramatics?

  4. Oh Melanie, How sad and I could just picture your puddle of blood. But you have to know that you have a great rejection. As busy as editors are, she had to have loved the book to have read it all. Great going. Ask her if you can use her endorsement when sending it out to others.

    Missy, great topic. The pitch is soooo important. Its what grabs the readers in the book store so in order to do that, you have to grab editors attention too.

    One time when I was pitching a book, I got so nervous and flustered I completely forgot what the book was about. This was when I was younger so couldn't blame it on senior moments. But the editor was so sweet and took pity on me. She asked very helpful questions that got me back on track. We have to remember they are human too. Its comforting to know that.

  5. Marketing hook? Yeesh, I'm not sure. The big line on the back of the book says:
    Outlaws and Inlaws face off on the western frontier.

    Which is pretty funny and catches the humor of the book well, I think.

    There's a nice endorsement from Kathleen Y'Barbo that says, Mary Connealy brings the fun back to westerns.
    So they focused on the humor and the western, rather than the romance and historical, which are kind of the same thing and all there too. But I liked their angle, their word choices.

  6. And Melanie, please tell me you're rewriting this now and setting it in the American west. C'mon girl.

  7. Melanie, I bet that was so hard! But a compliment, too. Like Sandra said, she must have loved it to read the whole thing!

    Sandra, I feel for you. At my first pitch, I ran on and on practically telling the whole story! I was so nervous that I didn't have the sense to stop. It was so terrible! It was like a bad movie I couldn't stop. LOL (The editor, bless her heart, finally cute me off!)

    Mary, I love the outlaws and inlaws thing! That does fit well with your humor.


  8. Fun subject, Missy! And the editor was right, Melanie -- that is a good pitch! Anytime you can state a premise in one sentence, I am in awe. Yours was great, too, Mary, both of them!

    After my first disastrous pitch that lasted all of 7 seconds (sigh, the editor halted me with an abrupt hand in the air when she heard it was about an Irish-Catholic family), I decided I needed a 1-sentence pitch that I could blurt out before anybody could cut me off. And let's face it, it's impressive if you can give a entire premise in one sentence (like Melanie did), especially if you tend to be verbose like me (no comments, Ruthy).

    So here was my pitch: Rival sisters of strong faith--one in God, the other in herself--turn the head of a heartbreaker who proposes to one and falls in love with the other.

    And here's how Revell cleaned it up to put it nice and neat on the jacket blurb: She’s found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister.

    Sigh. I can write a 500-page book in my sleep, but don't make me write a jacket blurb or premise!!!

  9. I shouldn't try to take credit for my pitch. I got help from the loopers and Mary. I asked for help on the loop and several people gave me ideas and help. And Mary's the queen of great pitches, so I know she helped, too.

    And yes, I'm getting ready to write an 1890 almost-western. It's more of a Southern fiction type story, since it's set in Tennessee and my Alabama upbringing makes me an expert in all things Southern and weird (think William Faulkner). The South really is like that. A lot of strange characters, if you know what I mean.

  10. I'm terrible at pitches and not so hot at blurbs either...suffice it to say I'm much happier with the ones marketing put on the back of my books than the drizzle I came up with. LOL!

    You ladies amaze me.

    Thanks for reading our blog, Melanie! I hope you're reworking and resubbing that story! Sounds like you were close...

    Cheryl Wyatt

  11. Great topic, Missy! Pitches are important. Every year before the ACFW conference, the forum hosts an informal pitch session, where people can hone their pitches. It’s a lot of fun.

    Missy, both you and Steeple Hill captured the essence of the story, just in different ways. Both definitely sound intriguing.

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