STATUS: It was such a gorgeous day in Denver, one can’t help but smile despite being a little tired. I stayed up late last night to read a requested full manuscript that I just couldn’t put down. I literally finished reading around midnight and thought, “it’s not too late to call the author and offer representation, is it?” Ultimately I decided that midnight was a little late to be calling and waited until first thing this morning.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? IT MUST BE HIM by Vicki Carr
So I was thinking some more about this exercise and I can’t stress enough how nailing your deal lunch blurb can really help you to crystallize your story line for your query pitch.
Interesting that folks commented that the deal lunch blurb didn’t grab their attention as much as the longer blurb (and of course the longer blurb is going to be way better—that’s why I used it for the pitch to editors). Don’t forget. You do have a whole paragraph (or even two) to nail your story concept in your query letter. You don’t just have to use one sentence. The point of the exercise is to simply boil your story down to the main conflict and that’s what really struck me about what some of the comments posted.
If I had simply focused on Angel’s struggle of non-acceptance in the art world, I wouldn’t have highlighted a driving conflict that’s moving the story forward. It’s that simple. These two boys both accept her and her art but they represent two opposite art extremes and ultimately she must decide for herself what she wants her art to be (and in doing so, discovers herself). Conflict.
So keep that in mind when you are tackling this exercise.
Here’s another good example. This novel, by Boston’s Channel 7 Investigative Reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan, will hit shelves in about 3 weeks. Here’s the longish pitch blurb I used in my email letters to editors.
PRIME TIME by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Think that annoying SPAM clogging your computer is just so much cyber-junk? Top-notch TV reporter Charlotte McNally suspects some of it may be much more than that–in fact, she’s certain it carries secret big-money messages to a powerful inner circle of executives who possess the key to its code.
Turns out–as Charlie discovers–the last outsider who deciphered the SPAM’s hidden clues now resides in the local morgue. Was his car crash really an accident? Charlie’s spidey-sense for news may have put her on the trail of the biggest story of her life or the one that may end it.
PRIME TIME, a Lady Lit mystery, introduces Charlotte “Charlie” McNally, a hip and attractive late forty-something journalist who’s facing some life-changing challenges. Charlie’s smart, successful and devoted to Italian clothing designers–but she’s worried her news director is about to replace her with a younger model. Even though she’s won a row of Emmys for her investigative reporting, she’s convinced that unless she digs up another blockbuster in time for the next November ratings book, she may be fired from the job she loves.
Charlie’s got too many pairs of shoes, too many graying hairs, and even a hot flash or two—but she puts her life, and her heart, on the line for a story and readers will never look at SPAM the same way again.
I just loved so many elements of the story, I didn’t want to shorten it. I wanted the editors to get the real feel of the manuscript which I think the blurb captures.
And yes I’m wordy. I HATE boiling things down to one sentence so I feel your pain. Now time for the Deal Lunch Blurb. To me, the conflict is that Charlie needs to land a scoop, solve a murder, and not be replaced by a younger model so that’s what I highlighted.
Emmy award-winning reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan’s PRIME TIME, the first in her series featuring 40-something TV reporter Charlie McNally who discovers a link between a suspicious car accident and hidden messages in SPAM emails while juggling an on-camera world that values beauty more than journalism, to Ann Leslie Tuttle at Harlequin NEXT, by Kristin Nelson at the Nelson Literary Agency (world).