Are You Ready to Pitch?

With the holidays over and spring thaws happening, I tend to think of this time of year as the start of pitching season. Agent inboxes are open, yearly budgets are restocked again, and publishers and looking to get their hands on some crafty new stories. If you’re like me, you’re probably sitting on a pretty polished manuscript ready to pull up query tracker and yell “bombs away!”

Story: Last year I put all my spit and polish on a manuscript I was pretty damn proud of. But (dot dot dot) I knew there was something missing. Something I couldn’t quite pin down with any accuracy. I entered #PitchWars, got a request, but didn’t make it into the final round. Best thing that ever happened. I had some writer growth that still needed tackling, so I shoved that baby aside and focused on the next book, which is now in the hands of my amazing CPs and beta readers. While they’re picking it apart, I went back to my first manuscript and got to read the story as a reader. Yep, there were problems, ones I could identify right from the first page. I got two paragraphs into the story and knew instantly I started it in the wrong place. So, I ripped off the first 10K words and set to work on editing.

Enter Revise & Resub. A brand new pitch contest where writers pitch to editors for a chance at 5 weeks of professional editing. As soon as I heard about it, I was all in. While I re-polish and copy edit the story with what I’ve learned, having a professional eye pick it apart is an opportunity I can’t pass up.

So, for anyone out there who’s about to enter #revpit, or any of the other amazing pitch contests coming this year, are you ready to pitch?

If the answer’s yes, the next question is: how do I prepare for submission? The following information is more to keep my own thoughts organized, but maybe it will offer some value to others out in the universe. 🙂

1. The Query: Like other writers, I’ve written and written, revised, edited, rewritten, had a shot of whiskey, and banged my head against the keyboard trying to get this pitch just right. Because that’s what a query is: your first chance to pitch your awesome book. While the internet offers a ton of resources on queries, the best I’ve found is Colleen Halverson’s Crafting the Fantasy Query. She cuts through the bullshit to get you on the right path.

2. The Synopsis: Like the query, I’ve spent far too many hours agonizing over this. Not so much the prettiness of the lines, but making sure I’m including the right plot points. The important ones. The internet has some great resources, but hands down Publishing Crawl’s How Two Write a 1-Page Synopsis is the perfect place to start.

3. The Format: This is the easy part, but it is time consuming, so be sure to set aside a few hours to get all your documents ready to go. The site I use is Marly Spearson’s Formatting 101. It’s easy, concise, uses both pictures and words, and helps you get the right format for all your documents ready. After all, you don’t want to be scrambling last-minute if a request comes through.

4. The Documents: So, exactly which documents do you need? Well, that’s going to depend on the editor, or agent, or mentor, or publisher. My recommendation is to have one of each document in a private folder ready to go:

  • Query
  • Synopsis
  • Pitches (Twitter pitch, 35-word pitch, 250-word pitch) NOTE: These are not necessary for most contests, but nice to have on hand
  • First 5 Pages
  • First 50 Pages
  • Full Manuscript
  • And… if you’re submitting to Sione Aeschliman during #revpit: 5 Pages of Main Character’s Darkest Moment & Last 2 Pages of Manuscript

Told you… time consuming. 😉

5. The Labels: Last thing you’ll need to do is label your documents. Those who receive submissions have a lot to get through, and you want to make sure yours doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. I recommend naming your documents thusly: LastName_STORY_NAME_TypeofDocument

Once #5 is complete, sit back, relax, and celebrate with an adult beverage. If you’re entering #RevPit, don’t forget to check out #RevMyBio.

Good luck on your pitches! 🙂

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