“How to Deliver a Short Gutsy Pitch to Entice Editors, Agents, and Readers” by Joan Y. Edwards
Is your ball (pitch) attached to a paddle?
If you don’t ever pitch your story to a publisher or agent, how can you get it published?
Does your ball (pitch) have holes in it?
Have you told all the essential information to entice an editor or agent?
Does it matter if what your ball (pitch) is colorful and flashy?
Using colorful fonts, gifts, and flashing text won’t entice the editor or agent.
Use vivid and descriptive words – they’ll be enough to entice anyone.
Does it matter what size the ball (pitch) is?
The logline, elevator pitch, and the Gutsy Pitch is short enough to get an editor, agent, or reader’s interest in 30 seconds or less.
If an editor or agent asks you for a plot summary, query pitch, summary pitch or a 100-150 word pitch, you give additional engaging and intriguing information about your characters and plot.
Today I’m focusing on what I call the Short Gutsy Pitch.
Like a ball attached to a paddle, it could be that you don’t know how to pitch. You don’t know if you’ve got something ready to pitch. You feel you can’t do it. It has you muddled. You are frozen on the pitcher’s mound of your writing career.
If you were a pitcher for the Colorado Rockies, you’d know what to pitch and how to pitch. Here is a video of Colorado Rockies baseball pitcher, Ulbado Jimenez: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5gSHz9_n0s
You’re a professional writer. You need to know what a pitch is, when to write a pitch and how to write a pitch to get on a major league team with publishers, agents, and thousands of readers.
In this article, I explain what a pitch is, why you need a pitch, how to write a pitch, and where to find pitches to study. WIIFY(What’s In It For You) By the end of this article, you’ll know how to write your pitch to wow editors, agents, and thousands of readers.
Amy Burkhart, agent, says the pitch has to tell, “Who, What, When, Where, and Why should I care?”
Kathleen Antrim, award-winning author, says a pitch must tell, “What if… and so what?”
A pitch must tell who the character is, what their situation is, and tell us why we should care. That helps readers connect emotionally with a story.
What is a pitch? A group of words chosen to compel editors, agents, and thousands of readers to have an obsessive need to read your book to find out the rest of the story…to find out what happens. Screenplay pitches are called log lines. A pitch is used in person, online, chats, query letters, cover letters, proposals, and on the covers of books.
A pitch tells about the situation your main character is in, describes what he wants so badly that when his world falls apart and his way to the goal is blocked, he’s willing to do ridiculous, difficult, risky, death-defying, and life changing things to achieve it. He won’t let anyone or anything keep him from reaching his goal.
Write your pitch before you write your story. It will help you write a better story. If you’ve already written your story, write your pitch now.
A pitch is a teaser – a hook that grabs the listener’s attention through his head, heart, and soul. When a bookseller reads a catalog with a listing of 400 books, you have only 15-20 seconds to capture his interest. When talking to another person, you have 30 seconds before their attention wanders elsewhere.
Choose 17-25 words of the most crucial information for your pitch that summarize the main character, flaw, situation, conflict, and aha moments to entice editors, agents, and thousands of readers to read your story.
If you were an editor, would you buy your book after hearing your pitch? If not, rewrite your pitch.
Write your pitch on a card (business card, index card, or poster). Put it in your wallet or put it on your mirror in the bathroom. Be creative. Be able to tell it with ease to anyone who asks what you write. If an editor or agent asks you for a plot summary or a 100-150 word pitch, you give additional engaging and intriguing information about your characters and plot.
Short Gutsy Pitch Parts
Part 1 Introduction to You and Your Book: Your Name, Title of Book, Genre, and Word Count
Part 2: Short Gutsy Pitch (Synonym logline, elevator pitch): Main Character, What He Wants, What Stops Him, What is his worst case situation?(Tells who, what, when, and where) (Tells the what if)
Part 3: How Does the Main Character Change to Overcome Obstacles? (Tells editors/agents/readers Why Should I Care?)
Part 4: What Does the Main Character Learn (Universal Theme) (Emotional Premise) (Tells the editor/agent/reader Why Should I Care?)
Short Gutsy Pitch Parts in Detail
Part 1 Introduction to You and Your Book
My Name, Title of book, Genre, and Word Count
My name is ______. Title is a magazine article, picture book, chapter book, middle grade novel, young adult novel, adult, non-fiction with ____ words. If it’s a series, you can mention this here.
Part 2: Short Gutsy Pitch: Main Character, What He Wants, What Stops Him, What is his worst case situation?
Short Gutsy Pitch (Logline, Elevator Pitch) Choose 17-25 words, one or two sentences, For screenplays, it’s called a logline. In his “I Wrote a 120 Page Script, But Can’t Write a Logline,” Christopher Lockhart says a logline (elevator pitch, short gutsy pitch) has to have:
who the story is about (protagonist)
what he strives for (goal)
what stands in his way (antagonistic force).
You find these gutsy pitches in newspapers, movies, on book covers, query letters, etc. I don’t recommend comparing your work to other titles in your pitch. I think it distracts from your story and doesn’t explain enough about the main character’s problem and situation. However, if you feel compelled to put Star Wars meets Gone with the Wind, add it to the front of your short gutsy pitch (logline).
James Sallis wrote the book, Drive: A Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for thieves finds that a price has been put on his head after a failed robbery. Read more of pitch: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/drive_2011/
Sophie Kinsela wrote the book, Confessions of a Shopaholic: A college grad lands a job as a financial journalist in New York City to support her shopping addiction and falls for a wealthy entrepreneur. Read more of pitch: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/confessions_of_a_shopaholic/
Dale Launer write the script for My Cousin Vinny: When sweet Northern college boy and his buddy Stan are picked up and thrown into the slammer in a hick Alabama town, at first it looks like no big deal. Then they are informed that they are accused of murder. Read more of pitch: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/my_cousin_vinny/
It is a story about a the main character
(tell age and sex, use character name if you like, but it’s not essential)
(if historical fiction, tell the year and the place)
who is (describe character’s flaw and bottom of the pit, life-changing situation that forces him to act)
Who wants _____________________ more than anything else in the world? What is the crisis?
What is the problem? But Opponent, Unexpected Bad Happenings, Terrible Consequences _______________ stop him (Why Can’t He Get It?)
Apparent Defeat – Disaster – Describe the bottom of the pit situation that seems hopeless and where the character appears doomed to failure. Make the pitch a cliffhanger.
Part 3: What Does He Do and How Does the Main Character Change to Solve the Problem? (Icing on the Cake)
At a workshop and in her iPhone application, “Pitch Your Book,” Linda Rohrbough suggests that when writing a pitch, writers include how the main character changes while striving to reach his goal. The short gutsy pitch hooks your audience. The change your character goes through thoroughly is the icing on the cake that convinces them that they need to read your manuscript. Change is essential to a story. Chances are if no one changes, there is no story. That’s why the editors and agents want to know the change.
In “Our Idiot Brother,” the main character did not change, however other people’s opinions of him changed. It reminds me of how a boy at 18 might think his father is dumb. However, when this same boy reaches 25, he realizes how wise his father was. Did the father change? No. But the boy changed in his attitude about his father. The boy had experiences that made him see his father differently.
Part 4: What Does the Main Character Learn about Himself and/or about Life? What does the experience of the main character in this story teach him about life? What does your story prove? What is the universal theme? What is the emotional premise for your story?
State what the main character learn about himself and about life in general from striving to reach this goal? State a belief that is proved in your story. After you explain it in terms of the story experience, then put it in terms of universal theme, like…love plus deception leads to death. Or use a saying, proverb, or cliché.
Joan’s Emotional Premises for Movies
Blind Side (2009) Premise: trust plus compassion leads to family. Saying, proverb, cliche: One person can make a difference. For more pitch information: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1212694-blind_side/
Love Story (1970) Premise: courage versus illness leads to unselfish love. Saying: Perfect love means unselfishness. For more pitch information: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/love_story/
Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009) Premise: addiction plus respect leads to love. Saying: Practice What You Preach. For more pitch information: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/confessions_of_a_shopaholic/
Notes: If you find conflicting opinions about this topic, go with your gut instinct.
Places to Find Pitches to Study
Newspaper listing of movies
Theaters listing of movies
Amazon Book listings
Back cover of your favorite books
Library book listings online
www.Rotten Tomatoes.com (for movies)
Other questions, people might ask you after your Short Gutsy Pitch.
How does your story end?
Why does this story belong with this publishing company or agent?
Why did you write this story?
Is it educational, inspirational, or entertaining?
What makes you the expert or the right person to write this story?
Are there other books in the market similar to this?
How will you help market this book?
Have you had any other works published?
Below is a pitch from one of my personal manuscripts. I hope they give you an idea of things to put in your pitch. I left the parts named in it.
Short Gutsy Pitch
Part 1 My Name, Genre, and Word Count
Hi, my name is ___________. Caesar and Cleopatra is Adult Romance and Intrigue, with 60,000 words.
Part 2: Plot, Character, Flaw, Situation, Internal/External Goal, Opponent, Ally, Apparent Defeat:
A young woman wants to marry. However, her intended’s son, job, and past keep getting in the way. She goes back in time and gets stuck in Cleopatra’s tomb. She strives to get out in time to stop the changes that will kill those she loves in the present time.
Part 3: How does the main character change to Overcome Obstacles?
She gains faith in herself and accepts others as they are.
Part 4: What does the main character learn (Universal Theme):
She learns that she likes the present circumstances better than any that could be changed in the past. Love plus acceptance leads to wisdom.
Realize that your pitch must sound smooth when you tell it or when you place it in your pitch query. Call a friend and read your Gutsy Pitch. Send them an email with the pitch in it. Let them read it to you. Smooth out any rough edges in your delivery. I separated the parts so you would know what belongs where. However, you can deliver it in two paragraphs. The first paragraph entices with a “Wow.” The second paragraph holds them hostage. They’ve got to know what happens now. They’ll ask for your manuscript or buy a copy of your book.
Hi, my name is ___________. Caesar and Cleopatra is Adult Romance and Intrigue, with 60,000 words. A young woman wants to marry. However, her intended’s son, job, and past keep getting in the way. She goes back in time and gets stuck in Cleopatra’s tomb.
She strives to get out in time to stop the changes that will kill those she loves in the present time. She stops being selfish, gains faith in herself, and accepts others as they are. She learns that she likes the present circumstances better than any that could be changed in the past. Love plus acceptance leads to wisdom.
In this article, I explained what a pitch is, why you need a pitch, how to write a pitch, and where to find pitches to study.
How did I do? Do you know and understand about what to put in your pitch to wow editors, agents, and thousands of readers and hold them hostage until they read your book? Why?
Please leave a comment and let me know if my explanations helped you. I enjoy hearing from you.
I would be honored if you would sign up for an email subscription from the left hand column. If you don’t see that link, leave a comment let me know you’d like to subscribe.
Do something fun to celebrate you and your life.
Joan Y. Edwards
10 Resources I used for this article:
Cammy Tang, has a critique service, http://storysensei.blogspot.com/2005/08/50-word-elevator-pitch.html.
Christopher Lockhart. “I Wrote a 120 Page Script, But Can’t Write a Logline:” http://nebula.wsimg.com/eb251c5a2e7848c7d3d9315c663a08fe?AccessKeyId=41AC06C643102994A485&disposition=0&alloworigin=
Cynthia Gallagher “How to Pitch Your Book at a Conference” http://www.writing-world.com/publish/pitch2.shtml
David Macinnis Gill, “How to Write a Log Line,” http://davidmacinnisgill.com/2009/08/01/how-to-write-a-log-line/.
Donna Ippolito, “Secrets of the Short Story,” http://www.expert-editor.com/id7.html.
Dwight V. Swain, Techniques of the Selling Writer, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0806111917/camysloft-20/.
Kathy Kennedy and Dennis G. Jerz “Get Started: Emergency Tips,” http://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/creative1/shortstory/
Moira Allen. “Selling Your Nonfiction Book, Part II: Making Your Pitch,” http://www.writing-world.com/publish/bookprop2.shtml.
Randy Ingermanson. http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php.
Scriptologist.com. “Logline: What It Is, Why You Need It, How to Write It,” http://www.scriptologist.com/Magazine/Tips/Logline/logline.html.
Copyright © 2011-2022 Joan Y. Edwards and Her Licensors.
15 thoughts on “How to Deliver a Short Gutsy Pitch to Entice Editors, Agents, and Readers”
Thank you, Joan! Your summary is clear, comprehensive, and encouraging. I feel much better about writing that pitch now.
Dear Mary, Thanks for taking the time to write. I’m glad my summary was clear, comprehensive, and encouraging to you. It’s great that you feel empowered to write that pitch now! Hip Hip Hooray for you! Do something fun to celebrate you today.
Joan Dream! Love! Laugh! Never Give Up.
Excellent article. Thankyou. It’ll be a real time saver.
Thanks for taking the time to write. I’m glad my summary was clear, comprehensive, and encouraging to you. It’s great that you feel empowered to write that pitch now! Hip Hip Hooray for you! Do something fun to celebrate you today.
Dream! Love! Laugh! Never Give Up.
Joan Y. Edwards
Dear Mary Andrews,
Thank you very much for writing. I’m glad my article will be a real time saver for you. Do something to celebrate you today.
Dream! Love! Laugh! Never Give Up!
Joan Y. Edwards
Think it’s well said, helpful, succinct and excellent examples. I like this because it’s “right up my alley”. Which in my neighborhood, means it works and I won’t get mugged . . . or a yawn back from an agent. . . when I. give a pitch using your ideas.
From one who likes alliteration, long sentences and mangles metaphors and such.
Thanks for writing and for the compliment about it being helpful, succinct, and excellent examples. A yawn from an agent would be an awful experience. We want to keep the yawnies away! Good luck with finding an agent and editor whose eyes light up when they read or hear you pitch!
Do something good for you today.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Great stuff, Joan. It compiles everything essential to a good pitch. Now, if only you’d do mine for me.
Thanks for the compliment. I’m glad you think my blog post is great stuff and compiles everything essential to a good pitch. Hmm. Your last sentence brought a smile to my face. You can send your pitch for me to read if you like…after you write it.
Do something fun for you today.
Never Give Up!
Great stuff! I especially like the sample you shared based on one of your manuscripts. Lots of great sources here. You pack a lot in a blog post. You are good to your readers.
Dear Linda, Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you think there’s great stuff in this blog post. I hope that something in it helps you get one of your books published. You’ve gotten articles published…next stop is a book.
Celebrate you today! Dream! Love! Laugh! Never Give Up. Joan Y. Edwards
Well worth repeating. Thanks!
Thanks for writing. I’m glad you think this post is worthy repeating!
Never Give Up
Thank you for taking the time to include these detailed notes about how to pitch. I shall keep this in my Evernote file, Joan. I usually try and write my pitches first. Merry Christmas!
It is indeed best to write them first before you write your story! When I learned this, I had written about 5 or 6 stories. No matter when you write the pitch, it still has to have the same parts to entice the editors/agents to buy your manuscript! Good luck. I think I wrote another blog post about pitches, too.
Never Give Up
Celebrate where you are now