Nancy: Help a Pitcher Out

Over the past several months, you’ve been hearing a lot about my Victorian Romance series. On occasion, you’ve also heard about my Women’s Fiction story (or Commercial Mainstream Fiction, if you don’t like the WF label). Today, I’d like to focus the spotlight on that WF story, because at the end of the week, I’ll be pitching it to a panel of agents.

It’s always tough to send a manuscript out into the world. Scary. Nerve-wracking. Heart-wrenching. It’s even more difficult when you have to pare it down to a brief, bare-essence presentation as I’ll be doing this week. I’m participating in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) annual pitch session, and the rules are very strict. The only information you can include is book title, length, WF subgenre if applicable, then a 50-word pitch followed by the first 250 words of the story.

In manuscript terms, that 250 words is less than a page. Yep, the goal is to sell the agents on the main character, premise, and voice of a 300+-page book in less than one measly page. And as if that weren’t mission impossible enough, by 50-word pitch, they mean 50-word summary of the whole. damn. book.

And the gods wept.

But I will not be thwarted! This past week, I pitched my pitch and one-page submission to my book coach, and made a few tweaks based on her feedback. Now I need some fresh eyes on this sucker, because mine are bloodshot and bleary. Want to help me out? If so, post your thoughts, comments, take-aways, or recommendations in the comments. Most important is that the pitch give you a sense of what the book is, and the first page intrigue you enough to request more pages.

TITLE: Take the Money and Run

LENGTH: 95k words

SUBGENRE(S): WF with Romantic Elements; Commercial WF

PITCH:

Sisters of the heart. Partners in crime. Until they got caught. Now ex-con Frannie plans to take the money they stole and run. But her new crush has other ideas, her ex-mark has a score to settle, and her ex-best friend has a plan of her own.

250 WORDS:

As Frannie Willets drove west across the state of Indiana, she wasn’t lucky enough to be swallowed by a sinkhole or washed off the road by a spring flood. So this reunion would happen after all. Still, she blew right past the diner where her ex-partner in crime waited, parked two blocks down Main Street, and climbed out of her beat-up white Chevy into the clean air of Licking, Indiana, population 2,432 if you believed the welcome sign. She locked her car, probably unlike everyone else here, but three years behind bars had made her more suspicious of her fellow humans.

Head up, eyes straight ahead, hands down at her sides at all times – courtesy of the guards’ strict training – she followed the incline of the sidewalk, up the tree- and shop-lined street that said welcome in a plain-spoken Midwestern accent. Lexi must love it here. Must feel safe. Frannie just felt like a drink. When she’s gone to prison, she’d still been too young to buy a legal drink. In the six months she’d been on parole, she’d indulged in an occasional one. Always just one. Just enough to steady her nerves.

Frannie passed a few pedestrians going about the business of life. One old man gave her side-eye, probably seeing at a glance what she really was. Eyes straight ahead. Hands down. Steady. Soon this sordid meeting would be over and she’d be back in her own tiny town. Not that she’d be staying there much longer.

 

That’s it! That’s all I’m allowed to include in this pitch session. Now that you’ve read it, I have a specific question about the 50-word pitch. Did you get that the ‘sister of the heart/partner in crime’ was the same person as the ex-best friend? I originally started with ‘Best friends. Sisters of the heart. Partners in crime.’ But my coach thought best friend and ex-best friend made it confusing. Thoughts about that, or any other part of my submission?

Nancy: Big Reveal: Novel 1 Cover Copy

 Many, many months ago, I shared my cover blurb (aka the 150-word pitch) of my Victorian Romance series kickoff novella and got some great feedback. Since then, I’ve worked on the cover blurb for novel 1 of the series.

This time, I spent even more time on Amazon reading blurb after blurb on historical romance books. I took note of which rhythms and devices appealed to me. At its heart, the cover copy is sales copy; its job is to sell the story, so I gauged my own response to determine which blurbs had me itching to hit the buy button. Then came the hard part: applying those lessons learned to my own book.

As expected, a few hours into the agonizing process, I was pretty sure I’d written the first book in the history of publishing that absolutely would not, could not be captured in a cover blurb. But deep down, I was also pretty sure that every author who’d ever worked on cover copy’d had that same thought. And so I persisted, and came up with this early draft of the cover copy. I’ll work on it with my editor  – who has helped write cover copy for decades – after she has edited the story. But for now, I’d love to get your feedback! Continue reading

Nancy: Selling Your Book in 150 Words

There’s been a lot of buzz here on the blog lately about upcoming book releases from several of us here at 8LW, This includes my own Victorian Romance series, with the opening novella tentatively slated for a late October release. One of the realities of publishing these days, whether via the traditional route or self-publishing, is the requirement for authors to market their own books. With that in mind, expect to hear a lot about book marketing here on the blog over the next several months to a year.

Today, I’d like to look at one of the basic marketing building blocks every writer needs that has dominated my brain-space for the last several days: the pitch. You’ve probably heard of it. But what is a pitch? How do you use it? And is it really necessary?

That last question is the easiest to answer: YES!

I’m going to glom together the answers to the other two questions because, in reality, there are different types of pitches, and they’re used for different purposes. Continue reading