Pitch Wars: The Query … simplified
May11

Pitch Wars: The Query … simplified

Are you query ready for Pitch Wars? The first impression of your book comes from the query. It should be short and hooky. But how do you get everything about your book in your query? You don’t. It’s a teaser. You only need just enough information to hook an agent or editor. So I thought I’d share with you how I do my queries. Here’s a simplified formula. I hope it helps you to come up with a query that hooks. 1st Paragraph – The hook. This should be a few sentences that hooks the agent/publisher to read on. What’s unique about your story? Get it in your hook. I usually start with my inciting incident for the hook like in the example below, “Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library.” It’s the part where after something life-changing happens to your character, they are propelled on their journey. There’s no turning back. No going back to life as normal. 2nd Paragraph – The book. This is a mini-synopsis of the story. The main plot. What is the character’s goal? What obstacles are in the way of her goals? What will happen if she doesn’t accomplish her goals? Get the conflict and stakes in this mini-synopsis. 3rd Paragraph – Your bio. Publishing credits and blogs or sites you contribute to that have to do with writing only. Don’t add family, pets, or events that don’t pertain to publishing. Don’t say your mother read it and loves it. If you don’t have a bio like I hadn’t when I was querying, no worries, just leave it out. 4th (or 3rd) Paragraph – The closing. Note: Keep your query to around 250 words. Do personalize your query to an agent. Add voice and stir. Sample: Dear Ms. Agent, (Hook) Gia Kearns would rather spar with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather-clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he’d abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound. (Mini-synopsis) Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting forbidden love or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French vixen obsessed with Arik and a flirtation with a young wizard,...

Read More
Day 8 (Part 2) of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentor Natasha Neagle
May11

Day 8 (Part 2) of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentor Natasha Neagle

Welcome to May’s Voice Workshop with some of our amazing Pitch Wars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected over thirty writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a 500 word sample that the writer chose from his or her manuscript where he or she felt they needed help with their voice. Our hope that these samples will help you with your work and that you’ll get to know some of our wonderful Pitch Wars mentors.We appreciate our mentors for giving up their time to do the critiques. If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. We will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones. And now we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Natasha Neagle YA author repped by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary. I graduated with a degree in Biology from Old Dominion University and a Master’s in Education, Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Phoenix. A middle school science teacher by day, I spend my nights coming up with news ways to torment my characters while giving you the most swoon-worthy book boyfriend. I live in Northern Virginia with my husband, two children, four cats, and two dogs (Welcome to #NeagleZoo). Website  |  Twitter Natasha’s 500 Word Critique . . . YA Urban fantasy Esme launched herself through the opening door. This was her one chance— While this opening starts us with action, I wonder if there is another way to make this voicier and really hook the reader. I’m more interested in why this is Esme’s one chance than finding out Esme launched herself through the door. ‘No way.’ This doesn’t relate to voice, but style. Be sure you are using quotation marks (“ “)for your dialogue. The newcomer caught her arm and shoved her straight back in. You could add some internal here to voice this up. What is Esme’s reaction to being caught? Is it a swear or body language? Give us some insight as to who Esme is because I don’t know yet. Her sea-water ears crackled, the door latched with a click, and a flash of dizziness swerved the room to the right, pinning her back into the chair. There is a lot going on in this sentence making it somewhat hard to follow. I don’t feel as if I’m in the mind set of your character. Damn. Her eyes closed, after-images of the room flaring up in violent oranges and pinks behind her lids. How does what happened just now make your character feel? I ask myself this question a lot when I’m writing because it tells me I can...

Read More
Pitch Wars Success Story with Kelly Garcia, Her Mentor Diana Gallagher, and her Agent Terrie Wolf!
May11

Pitch Wars Success Story with Kelly Garcia, Her Mentor Diana Gallagher, and her Agent Terrie Wolf!

The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we celebrate with Kelly Garcia, her mentor Diana Gallagher, and her agent Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management. We couldn’t be more thrilled for her. So without further ado, please meet Kelly, Diana, and Terrie as they tell us about their Pitch Wars success story. Kelly, tell us about your exciting news. Yes! I am now agented by the wonderful and gracious Terrie Wolf. Congratulations, Kelly! Tell us about the book that got you agented. The project that got me agented is called ACING ATHERTON. It’s a young adult romance about a seventeen-year old computer whiz who uses her hacking talents strictly for legitimate purposes. Most of the time, anyway. When she uncovers a secret about a rich, but very bad boy from her school, she’s tempted to the dark side, only to learn blackmail is harder than a perfect SAT. Excellent! Where did you get the idea for the story? I wanted to write something with romance, comedy, and lots of action. Lindy, the main character, is a teenage, female Mr. Robot, put in a situation with Pretty Little Liars drama, and written with a big helping of Monk-like quirk. Kelly, what were your previous experiences like in the query trenches? I won’t lie. It’s tough. I’ve heard more than once that being a writer means getting thick skin. Necessary, sure, but not a fun experience until I discovered Pitch Wars. We love Pitch Wars! Tell us about your experience with Diana. It was amazing. Diana Gallagher, (Twitter) my mentor, will always be one of the greatest influences in my writing life. She helped me polish my story and my query and continues to be there for me. We were both a little sad when my story didn’t get a ton of attention on the day of the war, but I soon found out that didn’t matter. A lot of good stories were pitched over a relatively short period of time. Many received only one or two requests. Some received none at all. However, at least half the participants have gone on to find agents. The process, getting the stories ready to fly, turned out to be at least as important as the contest.  One great perk from participating in Pitch Wars is being a member of a closed online group of past-mentees. This group offers an incredible amount of support and advice. Diana, what about Kelly’s application made you choose her? Kelly’s application had several components that caught my eye: a tightly-written query, as well as crisp writing and humor right...

Read More
Day 8 (Part 1) of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors Abby Cooper and Gail Nall
May11

Day 8 (Part 1) of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors Abby Cooper and Gail Nall

Welcome to May’s Voice Workshop with some of our amazing Pitch Wars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected over thirty writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a 500 word sample that the writer chose from his or her manuscript where he or she felt they needed help with their voice. Our hope that these samples will help you with your work and that you’ll get to know some of our wonderful Pitch Wars mentors.We appreciate our mentors for giving up their time to do the critiques.  If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. We will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones. And now we have … Pitch Wars Mentors Abby Cooper and Gail Nall Gail Nall Website  | Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Kidliterati Gail Nall lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her family and more cats than necessary. She once drove a Zamboni, has camped in the snow in June, and almost got trampled in Paris. Gail’s middle grade novels include BREAKING THE ICE, YOU’RE INVITED and YOU’RE INVITED TOO (co-authored with Jen Malone), and the upcoming OUT OF TUNE (all through Aladdin/S&S). She is also the author of the young adult novel, EXIT STAGE LEFT (Epic Reads Impulse/HarperCollins). She’s represented by Julia Weber of J.A. Weber Literaturagentur GmbH. Want to get the latest news about my new books, giveaways, & more fun stuff? Sign up for my newsletter!       Abby Cooper Website | Twitter | Facebook Abby Cooper lives in Minnesota with her miniature poodle, Louis, and a whole bunch of books. A former teacher and school librarian, her favorite things in the world (besides writing) are getting and giving book recommendations and sharing her love of reading with others. In her spare time, she likes eating cupcakes, running along the Mississippi River, and watching a lot of bad reality TV. Abby is the author of the middle grade novel STICKS AND STONES (FSG/Macmillan, 7/19/16). She’s represented by Rebecca Sherman of Writer’s House.       Gail and Abby’s 500 Word Critique . . . MG Fantasy (In My Vasst Expereence as a Knowledgable but New Witch-lette) Section 1: Fun Facts and Observachuns Spells don’t usally turn out the way you want them two. (You nail the voice in the word choice here, which is great! Two suggestions: 1) The spelling mistakes make your character seem younger than she is. While her age isn’t clear in the text, she comes across as about 11 or 12, but the spelling here makes her seem younger than that. I’d also worry about...

Read More