At the Midwest Writers Workshop, an agent panel gave some wonderful, straightforward advice about how to construct your pitch. You could use this formula as part of a query letter or in a live pitch. Brilliant!
I have a completed [word count][genre] titled [title] about [protagonist name + small description] who [conflict].
(1) What does your character want?
(2) Why does he want it?
(3) What keeps him from getting it?
(1) Character name/description
(2) The conflict they’re going through
(3) The choices they have to make
4 best resources on query letter writing + identifying agents to query
- QueryShark (opportunity to get your query critiqued + read others critiqued)
- PublishersMarketplace (for in-depth info on agents + publishing deals, costs $20/year)
- Agency websites (as you begin to select and customize your queries and submissions for each agent appropriate for your work)
- Think of your query letter to the agent/editor as the first step in the SEDUCTION process.
- Never say: “Let me start by telling you the backstory.” Your story doesn’t start in the right place if that’s necessary.
- If you must mention 4+ characters in your pitch for it to make sense, you probably have some problems with the story.
- The voice in the pitch should match the mood of the story.
- Only start querying when you’d be comfortable with your manuscript appearing as-is (and being sold) between covers on major chain bookstore shelf.
- It’s better to pitch a standalone novel “with series potential” (rather than pitching it as a series).
- Looking for more? Check out Ortiz’s synopsis advice.