A couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to snag a spot on Susanna Hill’s Would You Read It? Series. For those of you who are writers, you know how important your pitch is. If you aren’t a writer, rather a reader, let me explain. Remember the post about my first conference experience, and my less than stellar pitching experience? Well, we all need pitches for our prospective books. There are different forms, Twitter pitches written with hashtags and character counts, ‘elevator pitches’ for if you find yourself lucky enough to get 15 seconds of someone’s attention, and so on. The lengths may vary but the concept is still the same; in as few words as possible, you have to sell your book. Susanna’s series is designed for writers to help other writers, in this case, its all PB (picture book) and MG (middle grade) stories that are pitched. I followed her guidelines, submitted a pitch and a short bio, then patiently waited my turn. (It’s a weekly series, held on Wednesdays only). Once posted, other writers, by way of the blog’s comments, offer suggestions, feedback and pose questions to help sharpen the pitch and get it ‘ready’. I had a wonderful experience! I struggle greatly with pitches, (as you might have heard) and I appreciate every bit of help that was sent my way. I’d like to share a little of the process with you here… (click here if you’re interested in reading the entire Would You Read It? post on Nov 8. If you do, please check out the blogs/websites of the writers who commented. There are so fantastically talented names on that list. I’m sure some you’ll be familiar with and some will be exciting discoveries of soon-to-be up & comers)
So here’s my starting pitch:
Dewey heard the rumblings, this rainfall would be a big one. As he peeked over the edge of the cloud to check the drop zone, he saw the thing he dreaded most of all. All he wanted was to make someone smile, but would he ever get the chance?
And here’s a few snippets of the feedback I received:
- “The opening sentence is all right but if you could cut part of it out and combine part of the second sentence, it would be stronger. This brings me to the other part…who does Dewey want to make smile and what does he dread? I feel these should be included or at least one of these questions answered in the pitch to pull the pitch together.”
- “The first sentence contains a comma splice. Better to make it two sentences or rewrite it so that it isn’t two independent clauses. Or just add the verb “knew” – i.e., Dewey heard the rumblings and knew this rainfall would be a big one. Also, I wonder whether children would know what a “drop zone” is? Maybe find a way to shorten and combine or rephrase the last two sentences?”
- “Currently the pitch reads as one scene from out of a whole story which leaves the reader hanging, but not in a good way. Rewrite giving a summation of the story from start to almost end – don’t give away the ending, but write so we want to know what it is. Also, remember to add a hook – preferably not in question form.”
- “I have not done many pitches, but I am leery of ending on a question when you have such a dramatic spot in the middle. All the lines work, but I wonder if they should be reordered?”
- The MCs name, Dewey, makes me feel this is going to be about libraries via the “Dewey” Decimal system, so I was completely throw off.”
- “…the rumbling cloud and “drop zone” do a great job of creating tension in expectation of the action. Consider mentioning Dewey’s goal before the obstacle and giving brief specifics about both. A better sense of the plot could make reading this story irresistible to me.”
Isn’t that just fantastic feedback! I have everything from the technical ‘comma splice’ aspects, to major questions about the fundamentals of my MC. (Who IS a raindrop… though I’ve changed the spelling of his name to Dewy. I still can’t believe I didn’t catch that!) That’s not even all of the helpful comments, either. Here’s a little of what I did:
- Changed the spelling of his name
- Included that he is, in fact, a raindrop
- Rearranged the order of my sentences
- Included more information to thicken the plot and ‘show’ more of Dewy’s story.
So here’s how it reads now, still not ‘finished’ but hopefully closer to being so:
Dewey wasn’t sure he liked being a raindrop. Whether he showed up at recess or on a parade, it always seemed to ruin someone’s day. From the rumblings, he knew today’s rainfall would be a big one. As Dewey crept to the edge of the cloud, he peeked out and saw the very thing he dreaded most of all. There was no way he’d see a smile today. All he could do now was hope not to land on the cake.
I was so overwhelmingly grateful for the nearly 20 different writers and readers of Susanna Hill’s blog who stopped by to offer their assistance. If you aren’t familiar with her website, her contests and her challenges you should definitely check it out… right now. You still have plenty of time to get ready for her Holiday Writing Contest, guidelines should be posted soon! (I received an Honorable Mention for my Halloweensie contest entry!!) As if this all isn’t helpful enough, each month one pitch is chosen to receive feedback from a real, live editor! The other pitches from November have been really great, so I know the competition is steep, but I already feel like a winner with my new and improved pitch! Alright, I think that’s enough exclamation points for one afternoon.
I hope everyone has a fantastically joyful and stress-free Thanksgiving.
Thanks for reading, come back anytime!