So you’ve finished writing the manuscript and now you want to pitch it to an editor. What you need is a kick-ass pitch letter and a blurb that really grabs their attention. Read this fabulous blog post by Tara Lain (originally posted on DirtyBirdiesAuthors.com) on just how to do that.
Your pitch letter. It makes the strongest writer’s knees tremble. What if you mess it up? You won’t. It just takes some thought on how to craft a blowout blurb to describe your book.
A pitch letter should start with a simple declaration.
Attached is a 56,000 word, MMF contemporary, paranormal, erotic romance tentatively titled “Mary Had a Little Lambshifter”.
Fill in your data as appropriate. Then comes the blurb and this is your chance to shine. Trouble is, writing a blurb is nothing like writing a book. My day job is in advertising and PR, so I know that writing a blurb is more like writing an ad than a story. While they tell you that the blurb can be a couple paragraphs, I advise against it. I think a short paragraph is usually the best. This sounds scary, but the process will help you understand your book so much better!
Where to start? With your central POV character. What is his problem? (LOL. I write mostly MM so i say “he” but this can be your heroine.) We don’t want to know all his problems. Not every detail of his dilemma. Just one snappy statement that captures the essence of the book. If it takes too long to explain it, then you haven’t gone deep enough. Here is an example:
In my new book, Beach Balls, which comes out on May 4th the first line of the blurb I included in my submission letter was –
Adam James is so far in the closet he could find Narnia.
The editor said it was the best first line she’d ever seen in a blurb. LOL. Then you go on and explain a little further:
But coming out would threaten all he’s built as the lead attorney for WMA Development, and the million dollars he can get when he finishes pushing a big land remediation project through the City Council. Then on an early morning scuba dive, Adam meets a tall, lean rebreather diver named Sky who makes him want to live a different life. But Adam’s dreams are shattered when he walks into the council meeting and finds the fire-breathing environmentalist who’s screwing up his chances of winning is none other than that same beautiful man.
Then turn your attention to the other hero or heroine. What does he or she want?
Sky Sea Mickeljohn doesn’t compromise, so how could he find himself lusting after a damned developer? And what happens when somebody open’s Adam’s closet door?
Then conclude with a statement:
These two better start telling the truth if they’re ever going to find world peace.
Some people will tell you not to use questions in your blurb. I disagree. Yes, you can overuse them, but sometimes it’s simply the best way to create a little drama. Choose active, colorful words — threaten, shattered, lusting. Be a little mysterious but not too much–”ever going to find world peace.”
So that’s the blurb and the heart of your pitch letter. Following that, you can tell the editor why you chose their publication in a few words and go on to say a little about how you actively promote your books (an important piece of the pie).
If your blurb is good enough, you can use it later as the blurb when the book goes to publication. It may take a few drafts to get it right. If it seems to be getting complicated, stop and choose another pathway into the blurb. Keep trying until you feel you’ve captured the book’s essence. Writing blurbs is fun–and a good one makes your pitch letter a winner!
Just for fun, here’s the cover of the book I was describing above. More about that later.
To visit Tara Lain’s website, click here.