**This Lesson is part of the January series “30 Pitch Lessons – 30 Days.” Pitch University Pitchfest weeks and Expert-In-Residence weeks kick off the 1st full week in February.**
Pitch U is delighted to bring you Christie Craig, one of the funniest, hardest working writers we’ve ever met. (And stubborn? You should see her hundreds of rejection letters, which didn’t stop her from selling 4 books in one day.)
She’s routinely reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly and her new YA series is being positioned by her publisher to breakout as soon as it’s released.
As a freelance writer, Christie Craig has over 3,000 national credits, as well as three works of non-fiction, including the humorous self-help/relationship book, Wild, Wicked & Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You’re in a Romance Novel.
Christie writes humorous romances novels for Grand Central, as well as paranormal young adult romances under the pen name C.C. Hunter.
Christie blogs on writing over at Killer Fiction.
How to Pitch… Without Striking Out (“Oh, Kill Me Now!”)
The Great Agent Hunt (How to impress—or not—an agent at a conference)
Have a practiced pitch ready...
Practice with your dog, your cat, with your mother, but eventually practice with someone who can give you constructive criticism.
Remember what you leave out of pitch can be as important as what you put in. In other words, don’t talk about the peas or the fog.
Know who you are pitching to...
If you know a few of their clients/writers and enjoy their work, say so. Agents and editors have reading tastes and if you look at who they represent and have bought, you can get an idea of what they like and if they’ll like your voice.
Say something like: “I see you represent Christie Craig, and because I write humor, I thought you might be a good match for me, as well.”
Remember you have a commodity to offer...
Don’t be too nervous. They need us. Why else would they let us handcuff them to a chair?
Show your passion about your work without showing your ego, and without telling what your mama thinks about your book.
Have a one or two sentence pitch about your writing credentials. “I’ve belonged to RWA for three years, have finaled in six contests, and have published several magazine articles.”
If you don’t have publishing credits, remember just belonging to writing groups and critique groups can sound positive. “I’ve been writing for the last ten years, but really started to focus on learning the craft when I joined RWA two years ago, and found a well-established critique group.”
Your goal is just to let the editor/agent know you are serious.
Different pitch approaches...
- High Concept – Ghost Whisper meets Stephanie Plum.
Then give them a short synopsis:
Mary Pumpkin turns to bounty hunting when she fails to pass the personality test for the Houston Police Department. Probably her shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach is what failed her.
Her gift of being able to see and speak to the dead winds up being just as much of a pro as a con. Especially when her latest ghost, a sexy as sin police detective, isn’t really dead, just in a coma, and he needs her bounty hunting skills to help him catch the guy who shot him.
Will he come out of the coma? Will they take a chance on a real relationship?
- If you can’t come up with the high concept approach try the stand-by of Goal, Motivation, Disaster
An example of this is:
Perfectionist Katie Ray wants to marry the perfect man who would make her parents happy, especially since her parents recently died in an automobile accident.
But what happens when only weeks from the wedding she realizes that she doesn’t love her fiancé, she witnesses her wedding planner’s murder and becomes the serial killer’s next intended victim, and then finds herself falling for the sexy commitment-phobic PI on the case, who is nowhere near perfect.
Now, if you’ve read my book Weddings Can Be Murder, you know that the heroine is a nervous puker, and the hero is a sympathy puker. Yeah, that means a lot of puking is going on. And let me tell you, this is where I learned the tip: Remember, sometimes what you leave out of the pitch is as important as what you put in.
- Dwight Swain author of Techniques of the Selling Writer suggest a story’s base components are: Situation, Character, Objective, Opponent and Disaster.
Here’s a two sentence example he gives of a science fiction story:
When humans suddenly begin to grow to twelve-foot height, John Storm tries to find out why. But can he defeat the traitors in high places who want to kill him in order to make the change appear to be the result of an extraterrestrial plot?
All of the pitch approaches we’ve given will get you to the same point: A short synopsis of the book that gives the skeleton of the plot and hopefully enough about the characters to intrigue the editor or agent.
Your pitch should also give the editor or agent...
- An idea of your writing tone. A good way to get this across is just to say it, “I would compare my writing style to . . . Allison Brennon, or Linda Howard. Or are you a mix of writers? “A mix of a sexed-up Janet Evanovich and Jennifer Cruise if Jenny were from Alabama and talked southern, with a touch of toned-down Tami Hoag.
- Word count: Know the market enough so that your projected word count is in the ballpark. It’s part of having done your research.
- The genre: Make sure your plot skeleton clearly defines the genre for the editor or agent or just state it aloud. “My book is an 85,000 word humorous romantic suspense.”
If you do this, you won’t have to handcuff an agent to a chair. They’ll listen to you of their own free will.
Award-winning author Christie Craig grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she’s still fascinated with lightning bugs, mostly wears shoes, but has turned her focus to rescuing mammals and hasn’t kissed a frog in years.
She now lives in Texas with her four rescued cats, one dog—who has a bad habit of eating furniture—a son, and a prince of a husband who swears he’s not, and never was, a frog.
If Christie isn’t writing, she’s reading, sipping wine, or just enjoying laughter with her friends and family.
Contact Christie—she loves hearing from readers—or learn more about her and her work through her website: www.christie-craig.com