Monday, June 22, 2015

SCBWI Florida Workshop Part III- Share Your Perfect Pitch and Find Out How it Sells!

    This is my third blog post from the Florida SCBWI young adult workshop. Erica Rand Silverman is an agent with Sterling Lord Literistic and Jacquelyn Mitchard is a prolific author as well as an editor-in-chief at Merit Press. Click here for Part I and Part II.
Erica and Jacquelyn interwove their remarks
into a tapestry of great advice.
  • Don’t over reach.  You can use the “X” meets “Y” as long as you use examples that haven’t sold million copies. If you do, use a title that is known, but not over-known.
  • Don’t send a photo of yourself.
  • Don't say a family member loves your manuscript. 
  • Don't send with spelling or grammar errors.
  • Do Be concise, simple, and straightforward. 
  • Do List writing programs and classes you have attended as well as degrees and awards. Be relevant, current, and honest.
  • Do “Nuggetize” your work. Erika said to ask, "What is my books' essence?" Jacquelyn said it this way: "Find the statue in the block of granite." 
  • Do Try to include the character’s stakes in the pitch.
  • Do reference a client's work you appreciate. 
  • Do say why you are pitching to this particular agent.
  • Sometimes: Writing the pitch before you write the book helps you to conceptualize it. But writing it afterwards can help too.
[My experience is that it is helpful to write a pitch at different points while working on a manuscript. Before, during, and after!]

Image courtesy of
After their presentation, Erika and Jacquelyn invited participants to write a pitch and read it out loud. Building on a previously-written pitch, I read the following:

Dear Erica, 
I am writing to you because I met you at the Florida 2015 SCBWI conference and heard of your interest in young adult books. The other books you represent, X and X are  Y. [Where "X" are titled of books Erica represents and "Y"  is the reason I like them.]
Against the backdrop of segregation and Southern debutante society, Half-Truths is a young adult novel about an unexpected friendship between two teen girls-- one white, the other a descendent of a slave. When they discover a family heirloom that belongs to both families, their friendship is tested and proved. In the process of confronting her prejudices and fears, each girl finds a place in the New South.
Written from alternating points-of-view, my first young adult novel is complete at 80,000 words. I am the author of two nonfiction books for adults as well as many articles and stories for adults and children. I coordinated a SCBWI critique group for over twenty years, have taught writing to both adults and teens, and presented at numerous educational, library, and writing conferences. I review books and share insights into writing at and co-publish Talking Story, a digital newsletter which promotes literacy.
Guess what?

They liked it! 


Vijaya said...

Well, I'm not surprised. That's a good hooky pitch, Carol. I hope they'll not only bite but swallow it all the way. Good luck! Great premise of a story.

sheri levy said...

And why wouldn't they like it? Sounded professional and dynamic !
Good for you-

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Vijaya and Sheri! I hope, when it's time, someone will be hooked line and sinker!

Linda A. said...

Thanks for the pitch tips, ladies. Thanks for sharing your own pitch sample here, Carol. You've written a strong pitch supplemented with impressive credentials. Cheers from me. The other comments echo the cheers!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, for your vote of confidence, Linda!

Rosi said...

Lots of good reminders here, Carol. Did you get any push back on that 80,000 word count? I have a historical MG at 80,000 words, and I always get flack for that.

Carol Baldwin said...

No, they didn't say anything, Rosi. I just grabbed that number out of the air though. My ms. isn't complete yet! But it sounds like a good number to me. Maybe it's the difference between MG and YA though?

Anonymous said...

This has been such a helpful blog post series - thank you for sharing the knowledge you gained from this workshop as well as your great example of a query letter!

Carol Baldwin said...

Laura- thanks for commenting. Glad to know you're enjoying this series!

Anonymous said...

Carol, that is a great pitch. I know I want to read more! I am echoing Linda's cheers :) Someday soon you'll be writing a blog post about how this pitch got you an agent and in turn a publisher. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Kathleen. I hope you're right!!!

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