So, you’re writing a book and you want to sell it to a literary agent or publisher?
Okay, you’ve got one minute to tell me what your book is about, make me fall in love with your character, and suggest titles your book will sit next to on the bookshelf.
Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? Yet that’s exactly what authors must do, according to Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, known as The Book Doctors, authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published (Workman, 2010). The Book Doctors held a “Pitchapalooza” event in Kansas City, MO, on February 28; I was one of 20 or 25 lucky souls randomly selected to pitch a book to them and three other experts in front of an audience of about 300. The experts critiqued each entry, giving both positive feedback and suggestions for improvement.
I’ve spent the weeks since then doing primarily two things: 1) writing my book, which helps in knowing what to pitch, and 2) rewriting and rewriting and rewriting my pitch, incorporating the experts’ suggestions as well as some new ideas of my own.
I thought it would be a good idea to present my pitch here so all of you prospective authors can get a sense of what's in store for you. But also I need your help.
Whether you’re an author, a literary agent or publisher, or a reader (the most important audience, anyway), your feedback is crucial in telling me whether I’m on the right path or even if my idea sounds worth investing time and resources in turning into a novel. After all, there’s no sense in writing the darn thing if nobody is thrilled enough to buy the book.
A pitch is similar to what you see on the dust jacket of each book: Those few sentences that tell you what the story is about, who the main character is, and why you don't want to put the book back on the shelf. And the author has to be able to give the pitch in one minute or less. (For the record, the following version took me exactly one minute to read aloud to myself.)
So, here’s my pitch as it currently stands. (Of course, everything below is © 2011 Greg Gildersleeve.)
Damon Neumeyer does not want to move to “the district,” where the freaks live. But when his power to create darkness is discovered, he and his family – his always working father, overprotective mother, and very ordinary brother – are forced to move to the special section of town, where he can grow up alongside other kids who have powers.
Damon eventually gets used to the place and his new friends, but when some of them form a group called The Power Club, Damon wants to join. To win their approval, Damon must discover just how powerful and terrifying his darkspace can be – and that is only the beginning of his journey. Protesters, a classmate who can cause kids to disappear forever, and a rogue terrorist convince Damon that The Power Club can be a force for good. But can Damon convince his teammates that being heroes is more important than softball practice?
The Power Club combines the super-powered action of Michael Carroll’s The Quantum Prophecy with the coming-of-age fantasy of Ursula K. LeGuin’s Gifts. It takes readers on an amazing and terrifying journey of discovering the powers within us all.
What do you think?