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The Pitch Thread - 2013, Where The Wild Things Are

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Initial post: Oct 1, 2012, 12:25:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Dec 18, 2012, 5:09:46 AM PST
Hey everyone!

It's October 1, and y'all know what that means!

ABNA 2013 hasn't been announced yet, but I expect it any time now. We'll all be getting set to work on our pitches, and this is the place to do it.

Here are some general guidelines to work by:

For Pitch Submitters:
- All pitches are welcome!
- Try not to resubmit your pitch until a number of people have commented on it. It can be frustrating for the commenters to do a detailed critique, only to find out you've already revised it.
- We're here to help, so keep that in mind when receiving feedback. Nobody is here to cut up your work, but be prepared for honest opinions.
- Feedback you'll receive is just that, an opinion. If something doesn't sound right, or you don't like the feedback you get, you can ignore it. First and foremost, you must feel good about your work.

For Pitch Critiquers:
- Be respectful. We're here to help, not harass or belittle.
- Be honest, but constructive.
- Avoid re-writing a pitch if you can help it. These pitches are supposed to be the author's original work. If you re-write it, and they use your version in whole, it is arguably breaking the ABNA rules. Make suggestions that the submitter can learn from.
- Avoid making the same comments over and over on a resubmitted pitch. If the author doesn't accept your input the first time, it's likely because they didn't like the suggestion. (Sometimes it's because they just missed the suggestion, so deal with this case-by-case.)

Here's a blog post of mine, on how to write a great pitch:

Tips and Tricks - Writing the Perfect Pitch

Above all, have fun. We're all in this together. :)

Good luck, everyone!

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 12:38:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 1, 2012, 12:40:48 PM PDT
Betty K says:
(Okay. Can I repeat mine then. Carried over from the end of 2012 thread)

The Tea Merchant's Daughter

Travel in 18th century Europe is notoriously dangerous, but when the dashing Marc Garneau meets a beautiful Gypsy woman, he faces his biggest challenge yet.

The year is 1702 and after finally marrying the love of his life and the mother of his daughter, the East India tea merchant had settled down to wedded bliss in London. However, due to the death of their backer, King William III, the Garneau family face financial ruin and threats from an unscrupulous moneylender.

Marc desperately needs the large inheritance he left behind when he fled France during King Louis's reign of terror. But he is a Huguenot refugee and considered a traitor, so getting it out of that country is a dangerous affair. His brother in France comes up with a plan, and Marc and his family set off to meet him in Amsterdam.

But how does one face the hardships and dangers of 18th century travel with a family in tow? Especially when his daughter is now an attractive young lady of marriageable age with a mind of her own.

When they encounter a band of gypsies and meet a mysterious exotic Hungarian countess, new dangers arise for Marc and his family. It requires all the audacity he can muster, as he sets off on a mad dash across Europe to save them all from further disaster.

(The viewpoints of the father and daughter are pretty well equally divided.)

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 12:49:31 PM PDT
S. Taitel says:
Yay, glad to see the new thread up. Good point about rewriting other people's pitches. I've done it in the past because I've found it the easiest way to get my point across and always try to stick as close their version as possible. But I can see where it's a gray area for the rules.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012, 12:52:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 1, 2012, 12:53:07 PM PDT
S. Taitel says:
I'll echo what was said in the other thread. The majority of the pitch is setup. Does most of what you describe in the first four paragraphs happen within the first two chapters? Tell us more about the voyage and the gypsies.

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 1:11:19 PM PDT
For this contest you really want your pitch to grab the reader and make them wonder what happens next. You want them to drop the pitch and race to grab your excerpt to give it a read. It's very easy to get too involved in giving a synopsis of the novel rather than entice the reader. You want them to say, "This is different from anything I've read before and I want to know what happens next!" Your job in the pitch is to show the reader what makes your novel unique and something they'd like to read. That gives you the best chance of advancing.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012, 1:46:52 PM PDT
Three questions:

Who are your main characters?

What is your conflict?

What are your stakes?

Answer those, and then work on building the pitch. I agree with comments thus far about setup. The background, and how he got into the situation is interesting, and makes a great book, but what we really care about is the family dynamics and how they cope with the challenges they face. The why's of the challenges can be left for the book. :)

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 2:41:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 1, 2012, 2:47:19 PM PDT
Oooh, a shiny new thread!

It might be helpful to newbies to see some pitches that got through last year. Mine is on my blog:

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 2:48:48 PM PDT
Hi new Pitchers thread! *waves, smiling ear to ear*

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 2:51:43 PM PDT
Lauren Ritz says:
Transferring this from the other thread.

Same world, several hundred years later. The book is called It Takes a Village.

Query (the first part is in italics in the original):

The Elders remembered another life, running with the glow of the soul against bare feet, like the heat of high noon on the plains. The earth of Tien loved everyone it touched. The earth in Linan was cold and lifeless.

As Guardian of the Soul of Tien, Lord Orin has been charged with caring for the infant princess after enemies attacked the palace. Her nurse dead, he continues his journey until he comes to the village in Linan where the King said they would be safe--where the baby would be protected, raised as a princess should be.

The village is dead; the only things left living in it the ancient sentient trees of the forest.

The Elder Trees around the abandoned village in Linan have an oath to fulfill. Protect the Soul. Those chasing the boy and his ward don't share that obsession.

It is time for Lord Orin to fulfill a destiny he's never dreamed of; to die and live again, to become something more than human. More than just the Guardian of the Soul. If he is to protect her, Linan itself must have a Soul.

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 2:54:09 PM PDT
Just don't go too overboard with too many characters. I've seen pitches where I feel like I need a study guide to remember who was who with ten or more names mentioned in a 300 word pitch. Readers don't need to read that many names in a pitch. As a rule you have a main character, several lesser characters who are vitally important and a whole bunch of also-rans. Focus on the main character and the most important of the secondary characters and keep it simple.

Since Betty K's pitch is close at hand (sorry Betty) I'm going to use it as an example of what I'm talking about and how sometimes a writer will end up leaving a reader confused. We start with two characters "Marc Garneau meets a beautiful Gypsy woman." I love that. It opens the stage for all kinds of possibilities. Then more people come out shortly afterwards starting with the "love of his life and the mother of his daughter, the East India tea merchant." I believe the tea merchant is the previously mentioned Marc Garneau, but is the beautiful gypsy woman the "love of his life and mother of his children" or is it someone else? I'm not sure from the pitch. We then get more names in King William III and an unnamed unscrupulous moneylender. In the next sentence we hear of a King Louis. Then we hear of Marc's brother and Marc and his family set off for Amsterdam. Then the daughter, a band of gypsies (is this where he met the beautiful gypsy woman or perhaps where she originated?) and a Hungarian Countess all appear. To me, there are just too many names and too little cohesion to make this an effective pitch. As a writer you know your story forward and back and what seems obvious to you is anything but obvious to a naive reader.

I think focusing on the most interesting character/characters and a very limited, but exciting part of the novel is a smarter move for an ABNA pitch. You really want to focus on what makes your novel different, special and unique. That's what the judges are looking for. They want something in that pitch to grab them and make them want to pick up the book and read it from cover to cover.

Betty K's story sounds like the story of a family on a quest to regain their stolen inheritance and the people they meet along the way who help/hinder them. What about the family makes them different from other families on a quest? (Perhaps the mother is a gypsy who rebelled against her gypsy family who now finds herself dealing with a rebellious daughter of her own?) What about the quest is unique? (Perhaps the reason they need the inheritance, or the characters/obstacles they meet/overcome along the way?) That's more the direction I'd focus on in a pitch. Things that are important to you as a writer may not be important to someone reading your pitch.You have to try and figure out what would be important to them and then evolve your pitch to tell them what they want to know. Leaving a pitch round judge confused will simply get you cut. You want them invested in your characters and to care what happens to them. You want them curious about what happens next. If you can pull that off then you improve your chances of advancing.

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 3:24:27 PM PDT
E. M. says:
Betty- I'm with the rest on this. Your pitch is all setup at this point. As a reader I am come away slightly confused. What is this big challenge? Is it the inheritance? the Gypsy woman?

Lauren, your pitch requires moving around your setup. I'd probably start at the "As the Guardian..."

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 3:43:27 PM PDT
Betty K says:
Thanks for all your comments, ABNA comrades. I'm going to have to sit down and do some rework here. It seems like I've given the plot summary rather than a pitch

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 5:26:44 PM PDT
melkoberlein says:
Hello new pitch thread! :)

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 5:41:01 PM PDT
CLB77 says:
Hello new thread! I'm going to go off-topic immediately, sorry, but Thomas, are you around? Or anyone who can help me make a decently formatted .epub file in fewer than 5-10 days? Thx.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012, 5:55:27 PM PDT
Fire me the source file, I can make you an ePub in like... twenty minutes? Is that fast enough? :)

Or you can download Calibre eBook management software and do it yourself. It's amazing software and what I use to do all my conversions. You can feed it an ODT or PDF source file, and export as mobi or epub or any number of other formats. Fantastic software, and it's FREE. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012, 6:07:07 PM PDT
CLB77 says:
Thank you. I have Calibre, and it works okay for me, but I don't know how to get the formats right... I either end up with spaces between paragraphs that I don't know what setting to do to stop that without removing spaces I *want* (like after the Chapter heading and other hard returns within the text) OR I end up with spaces between the paragraphs + no indents. If you can tell me what to set, or point me to a website with the right instructions, I imagine I can do it... but if you don't mind, I'd really appreciate the help. What kind of file should I send you? The pdf?

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 6:07:40 PM PDT
L. Jefferson says:
*struts around the new shiny thread sprinkling glitter behind her*

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012, 6:09:00 PM PDT
Fire me the word processor document (ODT is best, but DOC or DOCX might work too). I can run it through for you.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012, 6:31:20 PM PDT
melkoberlein says:
Show off... ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012, 6:35:31 PM PDT
CLB77 says:
Okay, I sent them. Thank you. I'm completely stressing over this. I know full well it doesn't take that long to convert a document... I just don't know quite enough to do it myself (without more hair-pulling).

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012, 6:38:38 PM PDT
No worries Cara. :) I got you covered.

Posted on Oct 1, 2012, 6:44:28 PM PDT
So many posts already, I am here in sunny Toronto for work.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012, 6:46:09 PM PDT
I'll be in Toronto from Oct 16 - 19 for a training course. It'll be my third of four for a business intelligence certification I've been working on.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012, 6:53:30 PM PDT
CLB77 says:
Sorry. It's mostly me having a freakout. But I LOVE Toronto. Love it. (I grew up in Buffalo; we used to visit Toronto often.)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012, 6:59:04 PM PDT
Lauren Ritz says:
Shifting from PDF to epub in Calibre causes more problems than it's worth. RTF is best.
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