Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Hybrid Approach

Week of March 4, 2012: Batter Up!
Wednesday, March 7, 2012: A Hybrid Approach

Awhile back, I was working on a non-rhyming picture book that was heavily metered. As I played with the text I wondered how I would pitch the book. I emailed my friend and mentor, the great Joyce Sweeney, and asked, “What do you call a non-rhyming, heavily metered picture book?” Joyce wrote back: “A hard sale.” Thanks for that bitter taste of reality, Joyce! LOL! And thanks for reminding me that pitching a book is an art, not a science.

Hybrid Pitch Approach
I have tried to use everything I’ve heard and learned about pitches and combine the information into a hybrid approach to pitch/synopsis writing. Along the way I’ve found some things that I think can make a pitch/synopsis distinctive, for instance:
1.      Tell about the story in the same style/tone as the story. If you have a wacky, zany story, then the pitch/synopsis needs to depict that. If the story relies on alliteration, you might include that. If the story has a serious tone, reflect that in your pitch.
2.      Use some words from the text if possible. I sometimes pull a quote, a repeating line, or a funny line into my pitch. If the phrase is dialogue, I use quotation marks; but if it’s not dialogue, I use italics to set off the words that are contained in the manuscript.
3.      Think of book flaps and their intriguing, market-driven approach. They can help you organize your pitch/synopsis and find your voice in the process. In other words, think like a PR person—after all, you ARE your own PR person. Write that pitch/synopsis like you are selling your book to your favorite agent or publishing house. Imagine that this is your one shot (because it might be), and pitch that book!
4.      Show your writing style in your pitch/synopsis. If you write with lots of dashes, parentheticals, or ellipses, then show that. If your writing strength is your verb and noun choices, show it. If the distinctive flavor of your writing is in the sensory details, show it. If you have a unique voice let your pitch reflect it.

It’s Your Turn!
1. Write a pitch for one of your manuscripts using the hybrid approach. Or, do what we did yesterday—use a familiar story and write a hybrid pitch/synopses for it.
2. Post your pitches as comments so others can enjoy your work!

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