Pitch a novel in 280 characters or less

I am spending time researching how to pitch a book for an upcoming Pitch event. If you haven’t seen these before it is on Twitter or Facebook or any social media app where publishers or agents read as many pitches for books that are posted over a specified amount of time (one pitch per author) and choose the book/novel they would like to read and consider for publication.

What is a pitch? It is a boiled down to basics premise for your book. These Pitch Events have a limited number of words/characters allowed, so you have to put your whole 50,000 to 120,000 (or more) word novel into 280 characters max. 

Yep.

I first researched some previous pitch events that are still available online. Found some leftover Pitch Wars where you could see what other writers had submitted. Just to get the feel. This pitch is something you would put in the query letter to a publisher and practicing it is useful even if you don’t enter a Pitch event.

Next, I went over older books and online courses that I have taken over the years to perfect my query for previous unpublished books I have. I finish books and in my excitement of a finished product; I send out queries or enter contests. If it doesn’t fly the first try, I go on to the next big idea. I know about the authors who continue to send their stuff out, but I am not one of them. Yet.

I keep writing though. And I know I am learning how to do this better. Hence the newest pitch research.

Wonderful formulas come out of this research. I have them on sticky notes all around my desk.

“Flavor. Opening, obstacle, and quest.”

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

“Intriguing protagonist + ACTIVE goal (PLOT PROBLEM) + Stakes + Ticking Clock = AWESOME STORY.” 

(Kristen Lamb, WordPress, 8/25/2021)

I even purchased a book specifically on pitches. It is not on limited character pitches, but it is still useful. I am a total writing advice junkie, and any new way to define the writing process appeals to me.

The book (more like a long essay at 47 pages) is Gotta Read It! Five Simple Steps to a Fiction Pitch That Sells by Libbie Hawker. And just like it promises, it tells you the five simple steps that are needed in a pitch. I will adapt it to a Twitter pitch. Fewer words. I won’t give it away for the sake of Libby Hawker’s future sales.

The best part of this research comes in the stuff you don’t put in a pitch. 

Don’t put a question in it. Questions can be answered and if the reader is in a bad mood, the answer can be snarky and they will give up on your story. Hawker puts a question in her sample pitch when she gives that advice, qualifying it. If the only one who can answer the question is the protagonist questions work. The question draws the reader into the story.

Don’t use character names unless the name will give a flavor or time period to the book. 

Don’t go into every detail. This is a given for a 280 character pitch on Twitter. The pitch cannot sound generic, though.

 “Impoverished female makes a deal for money with rich man and they fall in love.” 

Who would read it? It is the plot for a lot of books.

“A great pitch will tell us the key themes of the story, the types of characters and the conflicts they will face in the course of their romance – leaving us wanting to know more! “

Harlequin 12/13/2021, Join Us for the #HarlequinRegency Pitch Event! – Write for Harlequin

That’s it. So easy and so hard. Why am I spending weeks on this? Because the end game is to have the publisher say, “I want to read this story!” 

No pressure there.

Wish me luck. 

Photo by Parth Shah on Pexels.com

So sad for me. My shiny pitch did not attract the editor this time. Maybe a new lure will work? Keep casting!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Writing satisfaction

BLOG

I always feel like writing. I always write. Every day. I do not submit often because I am always rewriting what I write and never feel it is ready to be read by others much less judged by agents, editors, or sometimes even beta readers. I can scarcely post a Tweet or a Facebook announcement without rethinking it and rewriting it several times. Half the time I post simply “Happy Birthday” because anything witty or meaningful has already been scrapped by my inner editor or said by someone else with no inner editor.

In that vein how do I manage to fill my PC memory with thousands of words daily that only I read over and over again tweaking and rewriting because I hate to permanently delete words? 

I might need them again.

DEL or BACKSPACE?

A fellow writer’s recent blog said she was reworking her first novel because she could not give up on this character whom she loved to hate and wanted his story to be told.

More like his story keeps calling her to improve it so that others will feel it when they read it. That is my goal.  Make readers feel they know the character like I do.

I am envious of writers who draw out characters who call to me.  I try to emulate the best of them but I want to do it my way.  I am currently cashing out the final third of a 100,000-word manuscript that should have been 75,000.  Out with the selfish dowager grandmother. Out with the conceited newly named duke who grand-mère wants my heroine to marry. Out with the bored earl who angers easily and no one can believe he is courting the quiet sister of my hero.  Maybe these characters will reprise their roles with future relations and stories but first I have to make the bad guy Uber bad and make my heroine’s efforts to escape him an epic struggle.

I spent yesterday rewriting the Logline for my novel and realized it had no time crunch or a fate worse than death to escape in the nick of time (I know. Definition of a time crunch).  So now it does and the rewrite that peels the death knell for my previously mentioned abandoned characters brings forceful evil life to my villain who was idly threatening on the sidelines before while the others made inroads in my heroine’s existence without requiring her to change anything except her wardrobe.

All stories have to have an immediate and satisfying conclusion. Everything else is a distraction and pulls the reader out of my story to look for a more rewarding read.

“Happy Birthday” will get you by in the social media world of a million other such wishes where a relative or FB friend just wants to count up how many HBs they got this year.

“Paid for the book” readers deserve to open a book with a rewarding arc of character growth and deserved HEA. They may be tallying numbers of “books read” on Goodreads but you want the review to encourage another reader to invest time and money in your book.  So put in the effort.

Seven things on time

  1. Spending most of the morning playing with a WordPress website so I have an author site takes away from my editing.
  2. Clearing out old photos to find one for website takes more time.
  3. How did my Kindle titles become pictures in my photo collection? Click and Delete takes time.
  4. Organizing photos in albums takes time. Should have done it when I took them but who has time?
  5. Back to website with no picture specific but determined to post something.
  6. Start somewhere.
  7. Editing novel takes time.

Lost time