Our July Program on The High Concept Pitch really educated members on the Dos & Don’ts of ‘pitching’ our work to readers, agents, and publishers. HB Berlow led the program. Then several participants whipped up their own “pitches” on the spot.
The following excerpt is from HB’s article in the August KWA newsletter. For full text, access the newsletter as a PDF by going here.
The primary purpose of the Pitch is to convince somebody of importance that your work is worthwhile.
For the professional Pitch, there should be some basic elements for the potential agent or publisher to be made aware of.
Identify the Genre and the time period, especially if it is not contemporary.
Beyond the conflict/basic story, you have to be able to identify exactly what about your novel is different from others in the same genre. A murder mystery contains a murder and the discovery of the perpetrator. Is your story different because of the “detective” or because of the “murderer?” Is there an element, like illness or familial relation that causes this to be unique? This element is the Hook.
There should also be a Comparative. Show how your work is similar to successful works of your genre. You must be careful not to identify it so closely to that greater work so as to avoid sounding too haughty or egotistical.
Even more difficult is the Elevator or High-Concept Pitch.
Whereas the standard Pitch is three or four paragraphs and closely resembles a query letter, the High-Concept Pitch is everything mentioned above…but in one sentence.
There are two reasons why crafting a Pitch is so important. The obvious is that you may encounter someone who could make your publishing dream come true. That will be a rare opportunity but a golden one as well. Make sure you are ready. Additionally, it will force you to focus on your work, identify its absolute essence. We love our work, as we should. Too often we gush over it until it resembles Niagara Falls. It would be better if it resembled a softly flowing brook.
Finally, be enthusiastic and energetic about your Pitch. Someone who listens to you and recognizes that YOU are not into it will not be into it EITHER.
Samantha LaFantasie put together a great list of internet resources: