As the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest draws ever closer, I am panicking about not being ready. My excerpt is ready. My manuscript is ready (although I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to re-read again). So where’s the problem? It’s that pesky, yet oh so important, first element that is needed to move me through the rounds: The Pitch.
A pitch is what’s used to catch the agent’s or, later a reader’s, attention. It needs to be short, have voice and show what your story is about, rather than telling. Should be cake for a writer, no? NO! You’d think, being that I’m the one who wrote the story in the first place, that it would be easy for me to tell you what it’s about. I know what goes on. I know the conflicts that arise and how they’re solved. So why is it sooooo hard for me to put it into this pitch?! Could it be because I’m condensing 70k+ words into under 300? Could it be that I want people to know what it’s about without giving too much away? Could it be that I’m just not as good a writer as I thought? More likely that it’s just a skill in itself that needs to be practiced and polished just as my novel was.
The pitch and/or the query seems to be a struggle for many authors, published or not, so don’t let it get to you. Expect that you will need to write it, re-write it, put it away and re-write it again. Search for sites online where you can post them for critiques (I highly suggest Query Shark, just be sure to read the posting guidelines and the archive!). Let your beta readers have a look before and after reading. They can let you know if it catches their attention and after they read your manuscript, they can tell you if they think your pitch was true to your work. Like any other piece of writing, expect it to get torn apart. Expect the rejections and take helpful criticisms to heart before your next re-write.
I don’t know that it will ever get easy, but researching, practicing and polishing should make it less like torture and more like paving the road to opportunity.