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Writing the Perfect Pitch

I’ve been practicing my pitches for years in a variety of ways. From the twitter contests where pitches need to be condensed into 280 characters. To crafting elevator pitches or Loglines (the one line introduction that sums up the whole story). And of course the dazzling pitch that introduces the main character, conflict and stakes. All in a bid to hook that illusive agent or publisher’s attention, making them want to read more of your novel.

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I can tell you, it doesn’t get any easier. I still dread the question ‘what’s your book about?’ As writers we flounder and babble. We practice loglines in the mirror, and recite them while driving the car or doing laundry. Yet we always forget when the time comes to explain our work. Thankfully, written pitches can be drafted, edited and polished until they shine.

I think in times of crisis it’s the artists responsibility to dig a little deeper.

~ Bruce Pavitt.

One of the blessings that come from years of experience, is that I’m always learning new tips and tricks. And the latest come from working with the talented, enthusiastic and genuinely lovely editor Jeni Chappelle. I’d reached the point in my writing where I needed professional feedback to help me grow. And I can honestly say, Jeni has helped raise my game.

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And because I love my fellow creatives, I’m more than happy to share all I’ve gleaned with you. So, here is the format for creating the perfect pitch.

Paragraph 1: Introduce your Main Character. Set the story by revealing what they want (goal) before they embark on their journey, connecting to their deepest emotional wound. Remember to show what is standing in their way, both internally and externally?

Paragraph 2: Introduce the main conflict. Reveal how it affects them, and what drives them to get involved.

Paragraph 3: Show how the stakes are raised as the story progresses. Reveal 2-3 specific obstacles they will have to overcome to resolve the main conflict. End with an impossible dilemma, often phrased something like… They must choose to: (internal or external conflict) before: (raise the stakes and/or show consequences).

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Each paragraphs should be 100ish words each. If you’re showing both POVs in a query, (for example, in romance genre) then usually a dual POV query would include a full paragraph about each character (about 100 words each, give or take) and then a third paragraph showing how their individual stories tie together. Note: writing the pitch from the POV of the character first introduced in your MS, otherwise agents and editors will be confused and put off.

And there you have it, the perfect combination of character, conflict and stakes. Easy… right? Don’t worry if your struggling to perfect your pitch, you’re not alone. Besides, practice makes perfect. Do you have any tips to share? Or are you currently struggling with your pitch?

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Don’t forget to leave a comment and share your thoughts. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2021.


Querying Agents: Should you Hire an Editor First?

So you’ve completed the first draft of your novel, edited it the to best of your abilities and now you’re ready to query. Maybe you’re further along than that – perhaps the rejections have started rolling in and you’re wondering if you should hire a professional. And here is the important question: Would hiring an editor help you get representation from an agent or perhaps even lead to becoming published?

After my recent one-to-one with an editor I’ve battled with this question. Some of the advice I received resonated with my gut instinct. Great. Whilst other parts I’ve debated with my betas, toyed with changes and generally procrastinated over. Who’s opinion should I trust more, someone in the industry for 20yrs or just little, blundering novice, me.

On Friday I attended a writing conference with a fellow blogger from Uninspired Writers and we had two agents from Greene & Heaton give us their opinion on the matter. Working with any professional can be a costly matter, which may well be outside of many writers grasp.

But a far more interesting point was; agents are used to working with writers who have a rough draft, it’s their job to know how to edit a manuscript to make it shine. Provided your MS is polished to it’s best and has no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. By implementing an editor’s changes you’re effectively adding a third persons subjectivity to the mix. You may end up editing out parts that the agent would have loved and add elements they hate.

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These points aligns with previous advice I’ve heard, which is, by working with an editor before submitting your manuscript, it is no longer authentically yours. Because it has been enhanced by someone else. The agents may well assume your work is up to scratch only to discover that it is not.

I think these pose an interesting conundrum. Who amongst us wouldn’t want to jump the queue and get ahead? But is that really benefiting us in the long haul. On the other hand, having areas in our manuscript highlighted as weak by an editor, critique partner or beta, especially if we had a niggling feeling it was, can only benefit us.

Remember advice is subjective, an agents preferences is subjective, heck this blog post is subjective.

Listen to that inner voice and have faith in your journey. If you want to work with an editor, do it and learn from it. If you’re struggling with someone’s feedback, because you believe those elements are integral to your story, listen to your gut instinct and leave them in your story.

You are the master creator of your world – in fiction and reality.

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Have you heard similar advice from professionals? Or have you worked with an editor and known in your heart their changes would help or hinder your story? If so, share them with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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Dear Manuscript: It’s not you. #pitchwars

I’ve been assessing my position from the query trenches with over 50 rejections. Phew! That was hard to admit. But I’m ok with that number because I’m constantly strengthening my work before sending back it in the world. Today I thought I’d share some of the reasons why manuscript gets rejected which have nothing to do with writing abilities.

Book Petals Love Writing Novel Author Lorraine Ambers

Recently I entered Pitch Wars, a competition to be mentored. On average I’m competing with 300 authors for each mentor I’ve submitted to, meaning my chances are slim. This echoes the same stakes as sending a submission to agents. Competing with hundreds of other applicants for the chance to win an agent.

Now I love twitter, it’s fast paced, honest, and has some great tips for writers. And what I love most are the amazing threads that come up offering a glimpse into the minds of mentors and agents.

One of this year’s Pitch Wars mentors is Adalyn Graces. She tweeted: ALSO, if you get 0 requests, it isn’t always because of your submission material. Some possible reasons:

-We are writing or plan to write something with a similar concept.

-The concept just isn’t right for us in that moment

– It could also be a mood thing. Or that a mentor only wanted to request 10 manuscripts out of 300. Literally there’re so many reasons. It’s never a bad idea to get more eyes on your work to see what you can strengthen, but sometimes it’s not about your material.

 

The Magicians - Quentin meme

Another Pitch Wars mentor, Kim Chance (read her interview with Ari Meghlen) tweeted: No requests in NOT an indicator of the quality of your work. There are just SO many factors that go into the decision to request or not. The talent this year is incredible and the mentors are so proud of you and your hard work.

Over at Jason Hine’s blog he sheds some light on why our stories are loved but just not enough to be chosen. For peace of mind and inspiration I suggest you take a look.

https://www.jasonhine.com/blog/2018/9/5/pitchwars-insights-reading-for-the-one

Last weekend I attended a Writers & Artist writing event, where I met the fellow blogger M.L. Davis. She’s a fantastic writer and superb beta partner. Together we absorbed the advice from  a panel of agents answering some of the elusive questions surrounding their Slush Pile and demystifying the process.

About 80% of the queries/ cover letters end up straight in the bin. Simply because the writer hasn’t taken the time to do their homework. So be sure to address the letter to the correct agent and make sure they represent your genre.

Sometimes the concept or voice is too familiar to them. Perhaps they’re already working with someone who’s wrote something similar. Maybe the planets aren’t aligned or they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Every agent, publisher or mentor is just a person with individual likes, dislikes and ideas.

Keep writing. Don’t stop believing in yourself and chase your dreams. I have faith in you.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

What are your thoughts on receiving rejections? And dare you admit to how many you’ve had. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.