I promised I would post some good pitches from #PitchMad
. Seeing what gets grabbed by agents is a good way to know what makes for a decent pitch. (Bad ones are just funnier in the absolute opposite way.)
These pitches were either starred (requested by agents), or retweeted by myself and my friend because we liked them.
And I will say, with the utmost smugness, that out of 45,000 tweets tagged #PitchMad
, I got 7 agent requests and 1 publisher request, while my friend got 7 agent requests. Not bad out of 45,000 tweets
!1. Years ago, they called this beach town Murderville. 5th-yr senior Jackson, looking into a friend's death, is about to learn why.
This one was the one all the agents were clamoring for. While I personally could take it or leave it, it has all the elements of a good pitch: stakes, protagonist, and plot. There's no accounting for taste, and agents have their preferences. While I would not be particularly interested in this book, I can objectively state that it's still got a great pitch.2. The Sky King uses his brother's circus to maintain power over the flying cities, but one girl in the menagerie could ruin it all.
This is more my style. This one doesn't have to spell out for you that it's fantasy. The unique elements of the story set up stakes and protagonist. I would personally like to read this book, and that colors whatever flaws it might have to be certain, but it still has objectively good elements.3. After a backwoods car accident, 17yo Tate wakes up to find his sister has vanished...and it's nightfall. DELIVERANCE w/ ghosts.
X meets Y is a very popular shorthand for pitches. (Incidentally, yes, this was a YA pitch, references to Deliverance and all.) Don't feel like you're cheating or anything using this technique; comparison to already published books helps agents figure out where your book fits in the market.4. A thief, 3 leg dog, neurotic robot, cynical robot & a girl (16) without a past: They're keys to save steampunk Ambrosia.
While this one is a little vague, and the argument can certainly be made that it's a bad pitch because of it, I feel like there are enough specifics listed to give you the jist. Most plots in genre books are the same; you can pretty much figure out where this one is going. Sometimes plot can be left to the genre to do the heaving lifting.5. In PUCK'S CHOICE, 16yo Puck, a fox-shifter, must learn to be human in HS again even as she defies the Council.
I like shapeshifters, but again, objectively this pitch lets you know everything this story will be about. In a sea of vagueness, even the basics of specifics are all you need.6. Haunted by her best friend's ghost, Marisol joins a cult to learn to speak to the dead.
This one's just a straight shooter. Plain language is not as simple as it sounds (ask Hemingway.) It's easy to get bogged down when pitching fantasy especially, so sometimes it's just about the bare bones. This one doesn't even take up the full 140 characters and STILL manages to hit hard.7. In BLADE OF THE OUTLAW, a half-breed outcast teams up w/ a hawk-toting cowgirl to tame the Wild West. Robin Hood retelling.
I would probably BUY this book based on this pitch, not just grab it at a library. Wild West Robin Hood that you KNOW has horses ALSO has a hawk? I am so there. Aside from my own personal preferences, this is clear enough that the stakes and story are able to be grasped. I will say that I don't feel like including your title is a good idea; it just eats up Twitter characters. But some people feel their title is a pitch in itself, I guess.9. Football capt Bray Carson stops a rape at a party forcing him to face truth about his teammates and his own family secrets.
People pitching fantasy can learn a lesson from this one: sometimes all you need are emotional stakes. I personally am a sucker for straight-up, coming of age YA stories because
they teach you so much about making emotional stakes the only stakes in the story. Something to think about for an angle, anyway.10. ELEANOR & PARK + HOLD STILL Daphne & Oliver team up to mend their broken families by fulfilling their dead siblings’ To-Do List.
This one was everywhere in retweets. No idea how many agents grabbed it, but I'm thinking a lot. 11. If Beatrix Potter wrote Game of Thrones. Shapeshifters, resourceful squirrels, and a battle for the Fisher Cat King's throne.
Everyone wants to know how you pitch a book like Game of Thrones. Pretty much by comparing it to Game of Thrones.12. How can an 18yo girl replace a 400yo old samurai in a war against gods, dragons, and monsters in modern Tokyo? Ghibli/Toho mash.
Too much urban fantasy uses European culture; a Japanese take sounds pretty fresh to me. While this one asks a question, a kind of no-no in pitches and queries, there's enough detail here to pull it out of a nosedive.13. ORPHAN BLACK + DIVERGENT: Lethal cat & mouse game between deserted assassin and the fascist organization that brainwashed him.
Another X meets Y, as you can see. The setup between an underdog and a giant is one seriously old story, and it still works.14. Self Proclaimed black nerd girl builds a robo unicorn that saves her artist friend from a cult that worships Cthulhu.
It sounds just crazy enough to work. Two agents asked for this one. There's something to be said for just going all-out on wacky (while making sure you still make some sense.)15. In SHAMPOO MOHAWK, a queer teen blogs his way through his fight with a bully, mourning a friend, and finding love.
A lot of YA agents push "voice", that they want the writing to sound like a teenager. Aside from stakes, this pitch promises good voice, which can be the only selling point you might need.16. Vengeance Jones has two charts on her door: Reasons to Kill Her Mother and Reasons Not To. Whichever one fills up first wins.
The reversal on this is very nice. Pulling off a good reversal depends on good build-up. If you win, you probably got an agent request. If you lose, you're a fool. Reversals are tricky to write, but they have better payoff.