Friday, April 30, 2010

25 Words or Less

At EPICon, the workshop 25 Words or Less was given by Larry K and Lorna Collins.

Can you say what your book is about in 25 words or less?

If you can't, then you don't know what your book is about.

Why is this a good idea?

- Because it's essential to writing a tight book and then selling it.
- Aim to excite the reader.
- Tell what the book offers.
- Leave the listener wanting more.

Imagine yourself riding in an elevator at a conference. The door opens and in walks the agent/editor/publisher you think would be perfect for you and your book. You introduce yourself and... what do you say?

Can you summarize the plot or main idea in the 30 seconds before the elevator doors open again?

The perfect pitch:

- Summarizes the entire story
- Introduces an interesting character
- Introduces an interesting location or situation
- Identifies what the character has at stake
- Identifies a problem and the solution

Examples using What If:

What if four small fellows go on a quest and face many dangers in order to destroy a stolen ring?
What if a matchmaking young woman focuses on her friends but misses her own perfect match who has been there all along?
What if a CIA analyst helps a Soviet naval officer commanding a guided missile sub defect, with his submarine?

More examples:

When her sister is kidnapped by thugs, a romance writer soon finds her own adventure. But will the handsome fortune hunter she meets help her?
When Agape Jones, retired detective, finds the body of a famous surfer floating off Maui, he becomes involved in more than just a murder. (Murder in Paradise)

But be careful that your pitch isn't misleading.

Misleading: A young girl lands in a surreal world, kills the first person she meets, and then unites with three others to kill again.
Better: A farm girl is dropped into a surreal world, incurring the wrath of an evil witch. A scarecrow, woodsman, and lion help her get home.

Some quotes about pitches:

"Oftentimes, an agent or editor will ask, 'What's your book about?' It takes some serious work to get the bare bones down in 25 words or less, but once you do it, you'll be very happy you did so." ~Terry Brooks

"Unless you can reduce your book to 25 words or less, unless you can impress an agent or editor in less than 20 seconds with your pitch, the chances of finding a publisher for your book are low." ~Sam Horn

And now I'll share my own one-liner pitch for The Land of Imagining, the fantasy YA I'm shopping around to agents: A magical pen unleashes a young teen's power to control a fantasy world, a realm only she can save from evil. (21 words)

Next blog post: Interview with Shawna Williams. Be sure to check it out, she is offering a great contest for commenters, as well as a huge one on her site.

Update on my writing:

Progress is coming beautifully for my assassin WIP, the one I'm going to pitch to an editor from Luna at the Writers and Readers Get Together in June so I'm very pleased about that. Plus, I just finished The Claw of My Dreams, my short story that I plan on submitting to the Sword and Sorceress anthology. Anyone care to beta read it?

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