Back from a terrific four days in Seattle, attending the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference. Wonderful venue, speakers, editors, agents, writers, sessions, weather, and reconnecting with friends.
I’d say that one of the biggest highlights for me was Chuck Sambuchino (of Writers Digest), who simplified the pitch process into an ‘aha’ moment for me. Chuck is a high-energy, enthusiastic guy, and he broke down the query into 3 simple elements:
1. The Detail line: This is the single sentence that precedes the pitch. This sentence tells the agent the details of what is being pitched. For example:
I am seeking representation for my completed number of
words-count genre of your novel, Title of your Novel.
2. The Log Line: This is a single sentence summary of the work. It should name the protagonist, and describe the inciting incident that propels the story. For example:
This is the story of an eight-year-old spoiled brat named
Goldilocks, who discovers an unlocked cottage in the woods,
and gets more than she bargained for when the three owners
3. The Pitch: This is 3 to 10 sentences, which introduces the main character and describes her in a way that is interesting, specific, and unique. It describes the inciting incident, what goes wrong, and the initial conflict(s). Optionally, it may cover the character arc, and discuss the conflicts and kinds of scenes to expect. The pitch does NOT reveal the ending, and does NOT include any generalities.
And that’s it.
I attended this session with another writer friend, and, although we’d both come with our pitches already written, we both rewrote them to follow Chuck’s suggestions. My new pitch was 7 sentences, my colleague’s was 6. Both of us used our new pitches, and both of us got requests for manuscripts from the first agent we pitched to. I’d call that a formula for success.