From Diane, Pitch U Founder:
We’re pretty darn excited to bring you The Jenny Bent. Yes, there is a bright light surrounding her. At least… according to her clients.
(When Tera Lynn Childs’ first YA came out, she still lived in Houston. Jenny’s light rubbed off on Tera, and you had to use special glasses just to get your book signed at her chapter author signing. Yes, it’s true.)
Enjoy Jenny’s interview (and below that are her critiques). She’ll be joining us tonight between 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. EDT. That’s 7:00 – 8:00 CDT, where I am.
See you there!
Meet The Industry Pro:
Company/Title: Owner, the Bent Agency
Length of Time In Industry: 20 years (ack!)
Professional Affiliations: AAR
Clients/Titles/Claims to Fame: NYT bestselling authors Lynsay Sands, Laurie Notaro, John Kasich, Julia London, Laurie Wilde, Sandra Hill, USA Today bestselling authors Janelle Denison, Kathryn Caskie, Kieran Kramer, Young Adult authors Tera Lynn Childs, Brent Crawford, Amanda Ashby, to name just a few!
When Pitching to Me:
What should Pitch U writers include in their pitch to you? Their query letter?
Their query letter should include a short bio (even if you don’t have writing credits).
Conference Pitch Confessions:
Here’s why I really go to conferences and take pitch appointments: I’m always looking for great clients—either already established or brand spankin’ new.
Here’s how I wish writers would approach their time with me: In a relaxed way—I don’t bite! I often direct the conversation so I can best learn about your project and also you. My pet peeve is an author who wants to read for five minutes from an index card, or spends five minutes telling me everything that happens in the novel, blow by blow. I’m looking for a great few-sentence pitch that summarizes the plot, a great title, and for you to be able to tell me some already published books that are similar.
Of the appointments I take…
_85_% know their genre/sub-genre when asked (and their pitch reflects that genre).
_25__% know how to pitch and give good pitches that impress me.
_90__% seem scared out of their gourd. [But that’s okay—I understand!]
_25__% of my “Yes, send me something” responses are due to having a good pitch alone.
_25__% of my “Yes, send me something” responses are because I worked hard to get information out of the writer.
_70__% of writers are comfortable having a conversation with me and answering questions about their books. Because I work hard to make them feel comfortable!
_10__% of writers come across as being ready for publication.
_99.9_% seem like nice people despite all other issues.
How did you end up where you are now in the publishing industry?
I graduated from college knowing I wanted to be an agent. I started as an agent’s assistant when I was 22, and never looked back!
June PitchFest Feedback
#1. Becke Martin. I think the author is putting too much information into each sentence, with the result that this query is difficult to understand. I had to read this several times. Also, editors/agents tend not to like protagonists who are writers—it feels too inside baseball for us. Add to the fact that she's a wolf shape-shifter which doesn't seem that fresh a concept these days, and unfortunately this is a pass for me.
#2. Lauren Fraser. Because of word count, this might be a category romance and the plot does seem like a category plot. As a single-title plot, I don't think this would be an easy sell to publishers; they are looking for more high-concept, original plots than this one. Authors credentials are strong, however.
#3 Nicole Helm. With this word count, this would be a category romance and again, this plot does seem like a category plot. It's not high-concept enough to attract an editor who is publishing single-title.
#4. Roberta Lynn. This one I would take a look at. I like the international setting and the fact that the heroine is searching to find out about her heritage. There are some elements that don't feel completely original but I like the other elements enough to take a look.
#5 Tina Moss & Yelena Casale. I think this query letter is very well done. Well written, concise, easy to understand, focuses on the right elements. The problem is that I've seen too many angel/demon plots and so ultimately I wouldn't want to see.
Jenny told us in advance that her schedule was so tight she could only review 5 video pitches. (At Pitch U, we understand long hours!) We asked her to review her choice of the five, and she decided to critique the first five listed.
#1 Autumn Dove. She needs to speak up. You can see her looking down to read from her notes. In general, this author isn't making the most of the opportunity a video pitch affords. If you are just going to read your query letter on the video, in my opinion, you should just e-mail the query. In a video pitch you should be able to speak off the cuff to describe your book, or make it seem like you are speaking off the cuff. You can use visual aids. Make it seem exciting and fun, lively. It's like you are having a face to face pitch with the agent—you should never sit there and read the plot off index cards. This is a vampire romance so I would pass; the competition is just too fierce.
2. Chantee Hale. Keep eye contact with the camera, don't keep looking down. Same comment about speaking more off the cuff. But I love the changing visuals in the background! This one is a pass for me because I don't see a high concept element. Perhaps it would help if she started the pitch with a one sentence log-line so I could immediately get the concept.
3. Elizabeth Michels. Good eye contact! She seems very natural, and although I do think she has memorized her pitch, it seems the closest to being informal of all the pitches so far. I'm still looking for a more high concept idea, however, so this one would be a pass.
4. Janie Bill. I’d encourage this person to film another try because she makes a number of verbal missteps and it's distracting. She should edit the ending so that it doesn't end with her looking down. This one was so long and detailed that I found it hard to follow, so I would not request the ms.
5. Jenna Wallace. LOVE THE TITLE. I like her relaxed manner and this is a VERY cool idea. Definitely want to see this one! I think she could have filmed another try because she also has some verbal hiccups, but overall very well done. Great pitch at the end where she compares it to Deliverance Dane and Jane Austen. Also smart to give us her website at the end.