Clubbing Agents Over the Head with a Kick Ass Elevator Pitch

Before a writer can get her foot in the door, she has to find an agent. Finding an agent is not all that easy. There are thousands of them (check out QueryTracker) specializing in every genre known to mankind, and a few that I’d never heard of.

Don’t ask me how to land one, because I’m still in the Realm of the Lost and Looking for Representation.

Most writers send out query letters. I haven’t done this yet, because I’m not finished with Book Number Two and Book Number One has to be eviscerated and the first thirteen chapters rewritten. However, I have done the elevator pitch during a foray in speed dating at the recent San Francisco Writer’s Conference.

It was scary. It was enlightening. I realized my pitch was sorely lacking and my synopsis too wordy. Agents, it seems, are looking for a shred of creativity. They are looking to be amazed, dazed and literally clubbed over the head. The book I pitched that got the most response (well, okay, the only response) was for my Siouxy story, and I wasn’t even trying to sell that. I think it elicited response because 1. Siouxy is a teenager and there were lots of YA agents in the room and 2. Siouxy gets into a lot of trouble. Wacky, off the wall, incredibly stupid  trouble. The negative comments came when I mentioned that the tale was a coming of age from the late 1970s. “Can you re-write it to make it more current?” the agent asked.

Well, no. I think outside of the context of the times, the story would fall flat on its face. But at least I received positive feedback, something to go home on a cloud over.

For those of you who don’t know me, the Siouxy stories started out as a joke. Written in serial form, it was a tale that kept getting more and more out of control the more I wrote, and now I have 50K words worth of her story.

The entire speed dating episode made me look at my other novels with a discerning eye. Why weren’t those agents wowwed by Cadence? Could it be that the story is the “same old same old” and the agents were bored? Could it be that I was totally exhausted from typing those magic words “The End” just four days before and my enthusiasm for my work had waned? Or could it be my pitch was somehow lacking?

I have faith in my work, but sometimes that faith has to be motivated.

Then too, I wonder if my pitch was good enough to gain attention, what would happen if they got the manuscript and the book wasn’t as snappy or interesting? I can recall many times when movie trailers are the best thing about the movie. Of course, they put the good parts in the trailer to get you to buy a ticket, and it’s disheartening to leave the theater thinking you’ve been robbed.

Some of the attention getting pitches I read are fabulous! Writing a pitch is different from writing a book. It’s a skill that takes a high level of salesmanship as well as a decent grasp of the language.


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