There was a point when I assumed 20 critique rounds would be the end. But no, you kept adding your pitches! So here we go again . . . Perfecting Your Pitch.
117. Deborah K. White
The Queen of Santor is well-protected from physical harm by her god, but agents from Karella are spreading rumors that discredit her rule and threaten to tear her country apart. Queen Serrica devises a plan to force the Emperor to withdraw his agents, but she must confront the Emperor face-to-face for the plan to succeed. Her advisors are convinced that even their cunning, god-touched queen won’t return from Karella alive, but that doesn’t stop Queen Serrica from her Fool’s Resolve.
I think the problem here is it’s all too general. Using the word “plan” doesn’t really tell me anything about what the Queen is really trying to do. I would also caution about calling her two different things. Queen of Santor and Queen Serrica can easily confuse in a pitch. Why not just call her Queen Serrica throughout and get right to the point. “Queen Serrica is facing down rumors that threaten to tear her country apart. She knows she only has one chance to prove herself and save her country, but will meeting the Emperor face-to-face succeed, or will it be her downfall?” Okay, I would need to know more about what happens to really write a good pitch, but I hope this gives you a place to start. What is her plan and what must she do? A lot of queens are forced to save their kingdoms. I want to know how Serrica’s challenge differs.
Efosa is raped at the age of fifteen, turning her hitherto idyllic life upside down. The perpetrator is Emeka, her brother’s rich and handsome friend.
When they meet again twelve years later, Emeka has had a conversion experience and is a Christian, while Efosa is bitter and suicidal.
Can she love the man she blames for ruining her life? And can a former rapist really redeem himself?
I’m sorry. There’s no way I could represent this book. The fact that it’s a love story with a victim and her former rapist is going to be enough to immediately turn off a great number of readers. I think a book about a reformed rapist trying to redeem himself might work, but putting the victim in the position of falling in love with him won’t fly for me. I think for me it becomes a greater issue. Do we really want to glorify people who rape and allow them to think that it’s all okay if you just find religion? So that would be my immediate reason for rejecting your book. As for the pitch, however, I just don’t think it has life. Do away with the questions and show me what Efosa is really confronting. “When they meet again . . . Efosa is forced to confront her own bitterness and anger. In doing so . . .”
119. Marcia Santore
When 12-year-old Carlo’s family loses its orchard to a blight, his father leaves to find work. Soon his mother falls ill—as she lies dying, a strange old woman appears and tells Carlo that it’s up to him to save her life. She sends Carlo to the end of the world in search of a magic seed. Carlo is helped along the way by several new friends: Rolf, an erudite dog; Marguerite, a laconic cow; and Jenny, a pirate girl, looking for a new life. In the classic quest tradition, Carlo must use his gifts—especially his gift for music—to overcome many obstacles. He fights off pirates, crosses the prairie with pioneers, gets swept up into a tornado. Only Carlo can write the song that makes a magical bridge appear. In the mysteriously empty city of Progress, Carlo becomes a cog in a terrible machine, one of countless people endlessly turning inside its gears in the futile pursuit of gold. He is saved only when his friends, waiting outside, try something they already know is impossible. When they at last reach Mount Tallest-of-All, one by one, Carlo’s friends can’t climb any higher—he must find his way on his own. Or does he? Using his last gift, Carlo discovers the hidden route to the seed that will save his mother’s life. Carlo and his friends are ready to return home in triumph, until Carlo learns he must face his greatest fear and return to the factory—to free his father.
This is another case where this feels more like synopsis than a pitch. You could shorten this significantly. Take a look at some of my earlier critiques, but I think you’re trying to fit everything in here and not everything needs to be in here. I think instead of focusing on every single fantastical creature Carlo comes up against you need to look at what his real conflict is. Is the book all about his need to save his mother? Is time ticking? Or is there more to it? What else does Carlo need to confront? What is his greatest fear? I think the problem is that I don’t really understand what happens. It sounds like a great magical journey, but it doesn’t sound like anything really special or different.
Previously published by PublishAmerica, I withdrew my book from publication. I need not say why. Here’s my pitch:
Anna’s Blood is a horror-science fiction novel about a homeless woman who takes temporary shelter in an abandoned house in Providence and gets volunteered to help save a gentle race of vampires from another planet.
My first advice is that it’s time to focus on a new book. Whatever credibility a publisher might have, or not have, your book has been published and it’s going to make it that much of a tougher sell. There are obviously rare instances where books that were previously published are picked up. Often though it’s in a new and exciting genre editors are hungry for, or it’s a book that has sold tens of thousands of copies. Since yours is a vampire book it’s probably not different enough to garner excitement that would move it beyond the concerns editors would have because of its background. Beyond that, though, and to the pitch, it just doesn’t sound different enough. In fact, it sounds very similar. What happens in her battle to save the vampires?
121. C. Valentine
It’s the puritans against the vampires and Sophia needs to believe she’s a puritan as she guards her sister, the chosen one whom the vampires seek to mate with their king. Fighting the powers growing inside of her, that would reveal her true identity, Sophia endeavors to resist the vampire captain, Blake, who leads the search for this chosen one. But in a moment of passion she allows him access to the puritans — and her heart. Now branded a traitor, only Blake can save her.
Vampires are tough sells these days. As many of you know, they are done, done, and done again. I’m not sure this story really stands out from the pack as being all that different. Beyond the story though, the pitch itself seems a little slow. It’s fine, just doesn’t have sparkle. I guess I’m confused by exactly what’s happening. She’s protecting her sister from vampires, but also gets involved with the vampire captain? And I assume she’s also a vampire. I think we need to know what one night of passion really caused. What the battle is and what she needs Blake for. I suspect that’s the heart of your story.
Son of a wealthy, successful and famous designer, Ian Harrington was born into the world of the rich and shameless. He blames himself, and his father, for his mother’s death, and has run far away to start a new life. Beautifully blond, musically talented, but emotionally troubled, he hides his pain behind pale blue eyes and drinks to numb the guilt that has followed him across the ocean. When he meets Sarah, the fiery-haired singer with all the connections to make their dreams come true, can her love save him from his demons and secrets, or will the burdens of his past destroy everything they have ever wanted?
I like the setup. It sounds a bit like a category romance, though. I would avoid as much as possible ending your pitch with a question. I’ll admit, I’ve done it a hundred times, but it’s not the strongest pitch you can write. What about simply rewording to: “now it’s up to love to save him from his demons and secrets before they destroy everything he’s worked so hard to build.” A little stronger. Ultimately, though, this feels like a very straightforward love story, which is why I say it sounds category. Category romance (Harlequin/Silhouette) is romance first. In other words, while there are secondary characters and often another small storyline, the crux of the book is the romance. The main concerns are the hero, the heroine, and their internal and external conflicts. With single-title romance you create a much more complex story. It’s multilayered with many different characters and a story that often supersedes the romance.
Celia Darrell (24) has a father lost at sea, a mother fighting cancer, and a brother who could be burning down the neighborhood. She’s convinced that her fractured family is holding her back from her dreams, and that her best hope of escape lies in decorating the enormous shipping cranes that line Seattle’s harbor. Bringing these creatures to life in a blaze of color could lure her father home, reawaken her mother’s artistic soul, and distract her brother from the fury that consumes him.
Along the way, she stumbles into love, risks her life, discovers the power of forgiveness, and teams with a mysterious East German man, who arrives in Seattle the day after the Berlin Wall falls. In the end, it’s clear the only anchor keeping Lilia tethered too close to shore is herself.
Intriguing, but do I really want to read an entire book about crane decorating? No. I want to read more about teaming up with a mysterious man and her struggles with it all. You do a good job of setting up her internal conflict, but now we need to see more action. What is really happening to Celia in this story? What is she doing besides decorating cranes? What is the conflict? Your last paragraph is a throwaway. I don’t want a general recap of the most exciting pieces of the book. Those are what I want you to focus on.
124. anon 11:31
For Laura Chase, being a god is not easy. After all, she’s trying to graduate from college. It doesn’t help that her family has been kidnapped by a supernatural racial supremacist, not to mention the fact she has the propensity to become evil if she cannot control her power. But above all, being a god is not easy…because she does not yet know she is a god.
The ending line is great and your setup is good. Now we need to work on presentation. Choppy sentences are not going to sell this book or, more important, your writing. “For Laura Chase, being a god is not easy. Graduating from college is difficult enough, but add in the kidnapping of your entire family by a supernatural racial supremacist and your own inability to control the powers that might make you evil, and things couldn’t be much worse. That is, unless you don’t know you’re a god.” Do you see where I’m going with this? More energy. And stronger writing.
Okay, readers, let’s hear it from you. What are your thoughts, opinions, suggestions. . . ?