STATUS: It was an incredibly busy Monday. I’m a little stunned that it’s 5 p.m. already. But it’s not too late to hop on over to Brenda Novak’s website and participate in the Diabetes auction she has going for the month of May. Thank goodness somebody has a bid in for more than $2.00 for my read and critique (on page 3 of Writers section). I’d feel silly if nobody placed a bid or if it didn’t raise any money for Brenda!
What’s playing on the iPod right now? YOU CAN’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT by Rolling Stones
Miss Snark and Rachel Vater are always doing pitch workshops over on their blogs and no, don’t get excited. I’m not about to do one over here at Pubrants. It has “rants” in the title for a reason.
But I did have a good idea that I wanted to share with my blog readers. I just concluded two deals recently for Kelly Parra and Jennifer O’Connell and by their request, posted those sales on Publishers Marketplace for Deal Lunch. And that got me thinking. It’s a great writing exercise to boil down a project to a one sentence concept in order to post the deal.
Trust me, this isn’t always easy but if you can somehow grab the core of your story in one or two sentences, you’ll know what’s at the heart of your work. That heart should form the main crux of your pitch paragraph that you then build into a solid paragraph or two for your query letter.
So in short, if you can nail your deal lunch blurb, you’ll nail your pitch paragraph.
Of course I won’t leave you hanging; I’ll give you an example.
Here’s my story pitch for a title that just hit shelves this week–GRAFFITI GIRL by Kelly Parra. When on submission, this longish blurb was included in the emails that went out to editors. Notice there are a lot of details included to give a sense of the story, the plot, the conflict, and the main character Angel.
GRAFFITI GIRL by Kelly Parra
How far would a bad girl go to find her rightful place in the art world?
Sixteen-years-old and third-generation Mexican-American, Angel Rodriguez struggles for artistic acceptance among her peers until she begins to explore the underground lifestyle of graffiti art—a place where her Mexican-themed artwork is finally embraced.
The graffiti lifestyle, however, may be more than Angel bargained for.
As she learns new skills with a spray can, she crosses lines she never considered by breaking laws to prove her dedication to the graffiti crew and drifting farther away from her supportive family. All the while exploring new relationships between two Latino boys–one with a beautiful eye for detail and an upscale street address and the other who lives in her neighborhood and who uses the streets as his canvas.
Soon she becomes torn between obligations of family, friendships, and her passion for art. Angel realizes her newfound artistic acceptance may have come with too high a price.
About the Author
Kelly Parra is the daughter of a Mexican-Filipino dad with a comedic streak and a strong-willed Mexican-Italian mom. Her parents, each raised with twelve siblings, filled her head with interesting tales of their childhood, launching Kelly’s love of a good story.
However, when it came time to do the Deal Lunch blurb, I had to just highlight the heart of it. Michael Cader doesn’t like agents being wordy (and trust me, we like to be wordy because we are excited about the book and we want the whole world to know ALL the details). For Cader, the deal lunch blurb can only be about 5 typed lines long—and that has to include all the sale/editor/agent info. That’s short.
To get that, I have to boil down the above 2 paragraphs into one sentence. No dilly-dallying. No long plot outline. I have to focus only on the HEART of the story.
So for me, the real story is about a young Latina who is torn between two boys who represent for her the polar opposite extremes in the art world and where she fits in that world.
Hence, the deal lunch blurb below:
FICTION: YOUNG ADULT
Kelly Parra’s YA debut GRAFFITI GIRL, a struggling young Latina artist looking for acceptance is torn between two Latino boys—one with a beautiful eye for detail and an upscale street address and the other who lives in her neighborhood and who uses the streets as his canvas, to Lauren McKenna and Jen Heddle at MTV/Pocket Books, in a nice deal, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency (NA).