Help me write a better pitch (Please and thank you)

Here is my revised pitch as it currently stands, (the old one can be viewed under the Expecting Happiness tab):

As Jake sits on the bathroom floor and holds his crying wife, he knows something needs to change. Stable jobs and a house are not enough. A child seemed like the answer, but Kristen lost the baby and now she locks herself in the bathroom to be alone.

Emboldened by their loss, they say, “Fuck it all.” They quit their jobs, sell their house, and embark on separate journeys. Separate because they want different things–

Kristen wants to face the world without Jake around to hold her up. She departs for Europe looking for independence but inches her way closer to an old friend living in Paris. His name is Gustavo and he makes her blush.

Jake, on the other hand, wants to find a place to start over, somewhere he can convince Kristen to begin a family. Of course, he also craves a little adventure. He sets off on a cross-country road trip but instead finds himself on another continent, a part of someone else’s family.

Even with new faces and changing scenery, life is not complete. Torn between the allure of the unknown and their unrelenting longing for one another, Kristen and Jake must ultimately choose which life holds the secret to greater happiness.

***

So, there you have it, months and months of painstaking tweaks… And still not quite right!

Here are a few questions I have grappled with:

Do I need to include physical descriptions of the characters and/or their ages? (Leaning toward no after my last post…)

Does my ending work?

How can I make this stronger?

If you have any thoughts, I would love to hear them. As long as feedback is offered constructively, I am very open. My goal, after all, is to make my pitch better and I know it’s not quite there yet. If you feel more comfortable offering input privately, feel free to email me at olivia@oliviaobryon.com. And, if you write, post your pitch and I’ll be happy to return the favor! (Cough, cough:: Kozo it’s your turn!)

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19 thoughts on “Help me write a better pitch (Please and thank you)

  1. jeffo says:

    I’m going to send you comments via e-mail, simply because I think it will be easier, and I’m less likely to run out of room. What I will say off the top of my head here is that this reads less like a ‘pitch’ and more like jacket copy or blurb. It sounds like an interesting story, but I don’t know that it’s going to be the way to hook an agent. More details coming via e-mail.

  2. kingmidget says:

    Jeffo raises a good point … so before answering your questions, let me ask you one. Or two. How do you intend on using this? Is it going in the letter you send to agents and publishers? Are you using it as your ABNA pitch? Where is this “pitch” fitting in to the grand scheme you have of trying to get this published?
    I would get rid of the “fuck it all.” You want your pitch to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. The use of the dreaded f word in your pitch will probably turn some people off before they’ve even finished reading the pitch.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Honestly, I am just focused on creating a basic pitch to use for ABNA/agents/etc. to be tweaked slightly when appropriate. Do you see a big difference between what should be included for ABNA vs. a regular agent pitch? For me, it’s hard to distinguish the difference between a pitch and what you would read on the back of a book– do you have any advice for that distinction? And, thanks for the F word advice… I know what you’re saying. It’s just funny. Another author told me to leave it in because it catches attention, (but maybe the wrong kind). I’m beginning to realize what a subjective process this all is… But, even so, I am incredibly grateful for the input (and plan to take it out, I think you have a point for my audience…)! Look forward to more of your thoughts, especially on what sets apart different types of pitches.

      • kingmidget says:

        People who know far more about this than me say a pitch is supposed to describe the story, including providing the ending. I think that’s for your “pitch” to an agent or publisher. But, if you look at the sample pitches that ABNA provides, they are more like the back of the book blurb. So, for your purposes, the structure of this works for ABNA. When it comes time to try to attract an agent or publisher the more traditional way, I think a piece of this works for your cover letter. And, then for agents/publishers who want a synopsis, you’ll need a lot more than this. A synopsis is a one or two page summary of the story from beginning to end. One of the things you will definitely have to do when you look for an agent or publisher is get over the “I don’t want to reveal the ending” feeling. You have to tell the agent/publisher that in the cover letter/synopsis/summary they are asking for. What you provide to an agent or publisher really depends on what they ask for — they’re all different. More later.

      • oliviaobryon says:

        That makes complete sense– thank you. Look forward to more 😀

  3. kingmidget says:

    By the way, it is funny reading this, comparing it to my pitch for Weed Therapy and see how we both end it with the same thing … happiness.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Yes! Reading your pitch I heard so many similarities, including in the basic questions/premise of the books, just different phases of life for the characters. So interesting. I didn’t realize we ended with the same thing 🙂

  4. Kozo says:

    Olivia,
    This is a great topic. I think a lot of people dream of making this type of change. I also think that infertility is a great motivator. I love the split plot with Kristen and Jake going different ways. I really like the idea of making a huge life change in the face of their inability to conceive.
    Here are some questions that I came up with. Feel free to take them with a grain of salt.

    I just watched Les Miserable and was drawn in by the constant intermingling of the cast of characters. Is there any way you could have a character or characters who weave the two plot lines together?
    Do Kristen and Jake communicate with each other? What if they blogged and read each others’ blog?
    This seems a bit picky, but if Kristen locks herself in the bathroom to be alone, how can Jake be holding her?

    Please take all my comments as constructive. You might have these questions answered in the manuscript, but they are what popped into my mind. I find that questions are the best way to delve deeper into one’s writing. I hope they help.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Your questions are great! They definitely help me see what someone who hasn’t read the manuscript gets out of it, (sometimes it feels hard to achieve this distance when I have read the darn thing so many times!). Also gives me some ideas for small changes that I think will help. I will clarify that she finally lets Jake in… and that they communicate while apart. Love the reference to what you like about Les Mis, so true. Look forward to reading yours and thanks again for the input, it’s very helpful.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      PS. Hurray for that question about their communication– just helped me tie the ending together better, thank you!

  5. The pitch was quite good. I expected some more drama in the middle! It might increase the number of words, but try and use effective ones to get better results! 🙂
    Waiting for the book.. I am the first one to ask you for its copyright, can’t wait to make it a film!!! 😀 Just loved the story line!

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Interesting insight– I have a hard time deciding how much to give away and how much to leave opaque… Glad you like the story line, would love to see it turned into a movie. 🙂

      • Hey.. I thought I told you this, I knew the story line.. u described it earlier, Just pen the story down and you will get a publisher. If you don’t come to India.. There are understanding and good publishers in India.. I’m not kidding

      • oliviaobryon says:

        I like your confidence. I will have to remember India 🙂 Happy almost New Year!

      • Its freedom of expression! I am a one-world believer!
        Both the terms are pretty heavy. but a short discussion hardly describes me!
        tell me while you are writing. I would love to be a part of it..Positively 🙂
        Warm New year wishes! 🙂

  6. Covetotop says:

    Your wonderful English is far beyond my reach. I cannot say anything in this regard.
    From the merely “philosophical” point of view, wich is universal, my humble opinion about your questions is:

    Do I need to include physical descriptions of the characters and/or their ages? (Leaning toward no after my last post…)
    Absolutely not. Age: They’ve just lost a baby and Jake is willing to convince Kirsten “to begin a family”, hence it’s clear that they are a pretty young couple. Physical descriptions: unless they are superheros, or a couple of monsters, physical descriptions do not add anything here.

    Does my ending work?
    Yes, but …

    How can I make this stronger?
    The “starting point” of the story is clear in your pitch letter. Perhaps it would be advisable to add just a little clue about its further development. I mean, by reading you pitch letter, any editor most probably would like to know a little bit more about your novel’s genre: a romantic story, adventure, mystery or even science fiction (Jake sets off on a cross-country road trip and … is kidnapped by an alien UFO in the middle of Arizona). I’d add just a little clue about what comes next.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Thanks for taking the time to give me some input– it’s so helpful to see this through other people’s eyes, who have not read the whole thing… Will have to find a couple details to give a little more but not too much, such a delicate balance! 🙂

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