Lately I’ve been trying to write the perfect pitch synopsis for my query letter. How in the world do you convey tone, voice and character and summarize a 125,000 word plot in 200 words?
Something I’ve run into over and over has been to develop a “voice” for my pitch synopsis. This is something I struggled with the most. My novel, Indigo Blaze, is Young Adult, but with a dark, edgy feel to it. I didn’t want a lot of snarky, angsty feel to the voice like so many other YA novels. So what did I do? I read book jackets in the same genre as my novel.
In my quest for the perfect pitch, I used my blog to ask for feedback from everyone I knew, and joined an online community called YALITCHAT (Young Adult Literature Chat) where I participated in their “Query Kick Around” forum. Fellow chicks Hayley and Janet provided the best suggestions and feedback, and after it all, my pitch synopsis went through approximately ten changes. I was feeling fairly confident it was my best pitch yet.
Finally, the day came to put my new and improved pitch to the test. I was notified by fellow chick, Janet, that an online forum called SavvyAuthors.com was hosting a contest to pitch your novel to literary agents. I promptly signed up, entered two contests, and proceeded to win both.
The first pitch took place with literary agent Laurie McLean of Larson-Pomada Literary Agency on Tuesday at 11:00 am. I was at work, so I took an early lunch break as I waited in the chatroom “lobby”, waiting to be ushered into the “pitching” chatroom. I’ve never used live chat before, so I was rather nervous I would screw it up. There were a few technical problems, such as the server kicking us out two minutes before the pitches were scheduled to begin, forgetting my site password to get back in, and the agent being unable to login to the chatroom. The pitches started about twenty minutes behind, but Laurie was gracious enough to stay until everyone had their chance to pitch.
Once into the “pitching” chatroom, Laurie immediately welcomed me and invited me to show her my pitch. I cut and pasted it, hopeful that all of the feedback I had gotten and changes I had made would impress her. Laurie asked a few clarifying questions and made a few comments – but because I was so nervous, I can’t remember them anymore! At the end, she asked for a partial and a two-page synopsis!
Well, this wasn’t the end of my good luck streak! The next day I was notified about winning the second contest - a pitch to agent Kathleen Ortiz of Lowenstein Associates Inc. literary agency. I was far less nervous for this pitch, now that I was a chatroom pitching pro!
Kathleen seemed really interested in my pitch, read it twice over, and had some very specific questions and also some pointers for my pitch. At the end of the pitch she told me she liked my premise and wanted to see a partial, but only if I cut 25,000 words! Apparently publishers cringe at anything over 100,000 words! I agreed and off I went to render my ms down (again).
I’m still a little lightheaded about the whole experience, feeling hopeful, but trying not to get too excited. Kathleen Ortiz’s blog is pretty clear about the odds of getting a contract, saying of the 1,600 submissions she has received since January, only about 1% are successful.
My next step is to polish. I plan to read through my ms one more time, to ensure the cuts I made haven’t left threads dangling or ghosts of story lines that no longer exist. Then I’m turning it over to a hired editor to comb it for grammar and punctuation. Am I missing anything? Do you have any suggestions for me, to ensure I put the most polished product forward?