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On pitching

This week I entered Pitmad (a twitter contest which lets you put up a pitch and see if any agents go for it.) Now, this was risky since I haven't finished the book (but it's not that far out).

So, why do it? If it's not to win an agent, why bother?

Well, basically we need to learn to pitch - and we need to work out which ones work and engage, because, when it comes to selling our books, we need to be able to talk about them and make them sound interesting without boring people before we get to the point.

My easiest book to pitch is Inish Carraig. Any sort of combination of 'the aliens invade Belfast; the locals aren't happy' seems to work in the sense people either like the sound of it or they don't. My hardest is Abendau - there's just so much nuance to it and so many layers it is harder to identify the themes. ('A grimdark Star Wars' vaguely works but doesn't do justice to the body of work.)

I find having a pitch in mind also helps me with the writing of the book - especially in the last drafts when it takes its final shape. More often, now, I'll have the query written long before the book is finished - when I first queried, it was the opposite. I like to do that because it reminds me of the central hook and focus, and the feel. In fact your query is rather like a company's vision statement - it sets the tone, the focus and the feel.

(For instance, Waters and the Wild - out in the summer! Getting closer! - I've called a fairy-fuel roadtrip through the Antrim Glens since a notable beta and I had many discussions on why it should become a roadtrip (they won, and it is one) and, once it did, that theme bound the book's scenes together.

But, here's the thing. Pitches need to be snappy and work. And that's where a pitch come is good - if it gets the odd mention, it's done okay. None of mine did yesterday, which is fine. I need more work.

But of the 3 pitches I was allowed to post one feels strongest:

Donegal 1977- a child is lost. In 2017, that child rescues Amelia King from the fae. Now, they must escape the Wild Hunt together.

I'll play with that, I think, and build on it. And if anyone has any ideas, please feel free to add them!


Tim Taylor said…
I think you're right that it's good practice to try pitching. I try to figure out my pitch about 20% into writing a book and then focus on writing the book that delivers the payoff for the most arresting pitch. It's worked brilliantly for some very rich authors. Me? I end up writing a different book altogether and wind up with a good pitch but a book that's totally mismatched. One day I'll figure it out :-)
Joanne Zebedee said…
Hee. I feel your pain. :D