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Below are two of my pitches. I used the The Painted Beast
pitch on all the agents and editors I talked with at Killer Nashville
. I was able to use The Small Resurrection
pitch once or twice.
Two pieces of advice, one I have said before: Practice the pitch and make it as natural as you can. Two: Think of a pitch as a spoken version of the back-cover blurb you read on many paperback books.
The Painted Beast
Ex-cop Stephen York was once a hero. Decorated and lionized from uncovering corruption in the police department and bringing down a criminal enterprise, he now works two or three menial jobs in order to hold body and soul together, not only for himself but also his thirteen-year-old step-daughter and eight-year-old daughter. One night his ex-wife, who has escaped from prison, returns home and terrorizes him. He escapes from her and she from him, but shortly thereafter she kidnaps their daughters. In order to save them, Stephen has to kill her, which puts him under suspicion for murder and under the thumb of a police detective who has personal as well as professional reasons for wanting to grind Stephen down further. In addition, his step-daughter’s biological father steps forward to kidnap her with the intention of leading her into a life of child pornography and prostitution in order to get money to help re-establish the criminal empire that Stephen had helped take down. This time, in order to save his step-daughter, Stephen, who has not been a particularly good father, has to offer his life in order to save his step-daughter’s. In so doing, he learns another definition of hero. At its core this novel’s theme asks and answers the question: Can a fallen hero be a hero again?
There once was an ex-cop who did poorly
At being a father and what’s more he
Killed his ex-wife,
Then offered up his life
To save his daughter from a life in pornography.
A Small Resurrection
Is believing in what you see the same thing as seeing what you believe in?
Knoxville, Tennessee, is the last place T. Xavier Gabriel wants to be. But the director of the 8th highest grossing film in Hollywood has come to town to ask his ex-wife for forbearance in paying the large alimony and possibly also for a loan to help restart his fallen career. She, however, has other plans. She wants him to
Use conversational voice when talking about your novel
rescue their 22-year-old daughter from the undue influences of a 24-year-old evangelical preacher. Gabriel wants nothing to do with that, having already admitted to be a failure once as a father, he doesn’t want a second bite of the apple. But when he finds his daughter keeping company with a resurrected Rod Serling, he sees a chance to use this Serling look-alike to resurrect his own career. But getting Serling away from his daughter puts her in jeopardy, and Gabriel must decide if he is going to save her or save his career. To save her, he must enlist the aid of Serling, who is not quite sure who he is or why he has been resurrected, and in saving her he puts an end ever resurrecting his career.
There once was a director named Gabriel
Whose life was a broken down fable
Then along came Rod Serling
And an offer so sterling
That it could save Gabe if he was able.
Two final notes:
1) The limerick versions were not something I pitched, though I thought about it. It was my way of have a pitch that could be done in 15 seconds or less.
2) Some pitch advice says you need to have antecedents as part of your pitch. Antecedents are novels that are like yours. Something similar to your novel. This is supposed to show that you know about your novel’s market and where it might fit. While I had that prepared for The Painted Beast, it did not seem to be something those I pitched to at Killer Nashville were interested in. That could have been a mistake on my part. But I had the feeling that these agents wanted to be the ones to decide where it belongs.