2/7/07

Pitch #4

"She stood five-foot-eleven and had to be all of 350 pounds. Her beady eyes, dull and black, looked out from a mass of tangled, dirty blonde hair, her twisted and puffy face full of acne and pockmarks. “GLENNA! run for your lives!” we’d scream in our best blood-curdling cries whenever we saw her. Everyone knew she had cooties of the worst kind, and we would probably die if she ever touched us. But I loved her."


First, this is not really a pitch. It’s a paragraph from the book. This is more of a hook that you might include in a query letter, but it doesn't tell me enough to qualify as a pitch. A pitch needs to answer the questions: who, what, when, where, and why—with a hint at least on the how.

The last line catches my interest, but the rest of this pitch doesn’t do much to get me to ask for more.

You told me in your e-mail that this was a YA novel, but that info was not part of the pitch itself. It should be--or there should be enough clear hints that I get it without question. The reference to cooties leads me to believe it’s elementary or middle school. But Glenna’s height leads me to believe she’s older than that. Is she a fellow student? Or is she an older woman pushing a grocery cart down the street? Why does he (or whoever) love her? Is she perhaps his mother or grandmother?

Clearly, this is not written from Glenna’s perspective, but she’s the only character that’s introduced. Need to know more about who your narrator is. Also need to know what the conflict is going to be and some clue as to its resolution.

I also do not have a clue as to the genre of this book—is it a teen coming-of-age story? A child coming to grips with mental illness in his/her family? Is Glenna a psycho killer who is going to wreak havoc on the playground or a student with a shotgun? Is this going to be one of those make-over romances where the narrator brings out the beauty inside Glenna and then falls in love with her? I can’t tell. I need to know because I don't want to waste my time and yours asking for partials in a genre that I'm not interested in.

You may have a very good, very compelling story here, but I can't tell it from the pitch. I would have to pass.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I've been reading the pitches and your responses with interest. So far, none of the pitches have caught your interest enough to ask for more information.

Maybe we need more information on what constitutes a "pitch" as opposed to a query as opposed to the first paragraph of the story. Perhaps, you've covered this, if so I apologize, but when is it appropraite to use a pitch instead of a query? Where would we find resources to show us what is and is not an effective pitch and when to use one?

Many ocnferences offer the opportunity to meet with an editor. Would we use a pitch at that time? Would we write it down to give to the editor or simply state it to him/her?

Is the purpose of a pitch to have an editor ask for a query and then a partial and then a full, or does the pitch take the place of the query?

Sorry for all of the questions. I've just been thinking about these things as I've read this contest and since no one has seemed to hit on what you're looking for, I wondered if we truly understand what it is?

Anonymous said...

"Sally, ostracized from high school because of her appearance, connects with Joe on a level he doesn't understand. Unwilling to leave the "crowd" to discover that connection, Joe seeks to sever any and all ties with Sally, even going so far as to change classes. When Sally begins working at the same grocery store as Joe, his fear makes him desperate to avoid her. But, when the two are thrown together during a robbery, Joe finally discovers the connection and no longer fears Sally or his friends at high school."

Would this be considered a pitch? It's not anything I am writing, but just wanted to try to apply your response to previous pitches.

LDS Publisher said...

Anonymous, you're not the only one who is asking these questions. I will address them in a post next week.

And yes, this is a pitch. I will comment on it in a future post also.