Straight From The Editor x 6 – A Pitch Polishing Extravaganza!

Okay… so it’s possible I didn’t post this Saturday or Sunday…! 🙂

But hey! It’s a great way to start the week, isn’t it?

What could be better than a Monday brimming with expert advice on how to polish pitches from an experienced and distinguished editor such as Erin Molta?

(The answer to that is a Monday brimming with expert advice on how to polish pitches from an experienced and distinguished editor such as Erin Molta accompanied by a delicious chocolate snack 🙂 )

I’m pretty sure I have some brownies… hang on… yep! (There are pretty much always brownies at my house 🙂 )

a645a-pb2bbrownie2

Now then! Expert pitch advice! Let’s dive in!

January/February 2018

The pitch winner was Erik with his pitch for STOYANOVICH IN PARIS (MG Historical Fantasy)

Nikolai Stoyanovich Krisayev is the last of a long line of Russian rat nobility, living in exile in 1880’s Paris. When he rescues a visiting mouse princess from armed kidnappers, he is thrust into the midst of a silent war being waged secretly in the streets and sewers of the city.
With only his wits, his father’s sword, and the aid of a shadowy figure who may or may not be on their side, he will have to fight to save both the princess and the city he loves.

Erin’s comments are as follows:

While this pitch is intriguing it’s also very confusing. In order for an editor to agree to ask for it, you might be better off simplifying. While mysterious is good, an editor especially wants to know what’s the heart of the story. For instance, Nikolai is the last rat of the royal line, but I am assuming he’s not the last rat alive, correct? Make that clear, especially since he apparently rescues a mouse princess…Aren’t rats and mice normally enemies? Are the two rodent populations fighting this silent war that’s destroying Paris? Try to be more clear and I think this has potential.

March 2018

The pitch winner was Jean with her pitch for A LITTLE WITCHY (PB ages 4-8)

After Beatrice decides being a witch is more appealing than being mortal, she begins acting a little witchy. But her failed attempts at casting spells and mixing magic potions land her in lots of toil and trouble! And her bumbling exploits soon attract the ire of witches, who offer to help her improve her witchery skills. Now Beatrice must decide rather to become a witch or be the best mortal she can be, and leave the witching to the real witches.

Erin said:

This is cute! Though I would go through it and watch the repetition, especially of witches, witchery… Even using sorceress or something like that would work better.

I’d also cut the last part of the last sentence and do something more like: Now Beatrice must decide whether to remain mortal and make the best of it or become a witch—good or bad.

April 2018

The pitch winner was Corine with her pitch for Willamina The Wolf Spider (PB ages 6-9)

Willamina the wolf spider wants more than anything to keep her spiderlings safe, but when her tummy starts grumbling, she knows it’s time to hunt. Not an easy task with three hundred spiderlings on her back! To make matters worse, it is full moon, and she is not the only one who is hungry. Willamina has to outsmart an owl, a shrew, and, in the end, a woman with a broom—an incident that forces her to release her spiderlings, but not before telling them they are going on a flying adventure.

Erin had this to say:

This is cute. Sometimes I suggest clarity but in this instance I feel it’s not necessary to tell the ending, unless the story is about the spiderlings’ adventures? If not and it’s about a wolf spider mama trying to keep her babies safe, then I wouldn’t let the reader know that she was forced to send them out into the wild wild world—in a pitch. I’d end it something like: Wilhelmina has to outsmart an owl, and a shrew, among others. Can she keep her spiderlings safe from the hungry predators on the prowl?

May 2018

The pitch winner was Jackie with her pitch for One Smart Cookie: The Story of Ruth Wakefield and the Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie (NF PB ages 4-8)

For years the invention of the chocolate chip cookie has been hailed a happy accident. Perhaps it was, or perhaps it was the clever invention of a clever lady. Devour every morsel of this mystery and decide if it was a lucky mistake or the creation of one smart cookie.

Erin said:

Sounds delectable! See my tweaks to get rid of the repetition and hopefully make it more pithy.

For years the invention of the chocolate chip cookie has been hailed a happy accident. Perhaps it was, or perhaps it was the ingenious invention of a clever lady. Devour every morsel of this mystery and decide if it was a lucky mistake or one smart cookie creation.

June 2018

The pitch winner was Patricia with her pitch for Amy’s Birdsong Aires/American Composer Amy Cheney Beach (NF PB ages 4-8)

Amy wasn’t an ordinary child. A musical prodigy, she could accurately sing any song she heard. Amy wanted to sing, play the piano, and write music, but girls in the late 1800’s didn’t grow up to do such manly things. Despite the times, her talents blossomed and she gained recognition.When a professor learned that Amy had perfect pitch, he asked her to help him ‘name the birds’, which ended up being a very important thing.

Erin’s comments were:

I like the idea of this story but in order for the pitch to catch an editor’s attention you need to clarify and simplify a bit. For instance, “naming the birds” until you read the story doesn’t make sense so you need to tell us exactly what the professor wanted  from Amy and what she did. Tell us because that’s what’s interesting. I’d also shorten it a bit by omitting some of the extraneous info. See below.

Amy wasn’t an ordinary child. She could accurately sing any song she heard. Amy wanted to sing, play the piano, and write music, but girls in the late 1800’s didn’t grow up to do such manly things. But when a professor learned that Amy had perfect pitch, he asked her to help him ‘name the birds’, which ended up being a very important thing. (tell us what exactly she helped the professor do.)

July 2018

The pitch winner was Greg with his pitch for The Remindeer (PB ages 4-10)

Wally has a very important job, to make sure everything goes smoothly for Santa on Christmas Eve. After going through his checklist and seeing Santa off, he discovers a present for Laurie has been left behind.

Unlike the other reindeer, Wally can’t fly. He calls a delivery service and finds out they are too busy to deliver the present. He’ll have to find another way to deliver the present and save Christmas for Laurie.

Erin had these comments:

How synchronistic that I’m reading this actually in the Christmas season! And it sounds great. My one suggestion is to tighten it up a bit and leave us with more of a question of how Wally will save the day. See my tweaks below.

Wally makes sure everything goes smoothly for Santa on Christmas Eve. But after seeing Santa off, he discovers a present for Laurie has been left behind.

Unlike the other reindeer, Wally can’t fly. He calls a delivery service but they are too busy. How will Wally get the present to Laurie and save Christmas?

Whew! That was a lot of pitch practice!  Have another brownie!

I hope you all found Erin’s input as helpful as I did! It’s great to get advice Straight From The Editor’s mouth!

One of these days, when Erin and I get our ducks in a row, we will finish the Straight From The Editor’s for 2018.  There are three more – one for September, one for October, and one for November/December.  But we’re still working on the last two pitch picks!  Seriously! Where is my brilliant, organized, volunteer personal assistant when I need her! 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! Happy writing!

(P.S. and I hope some of that happy writing is on your Valentiny Contest entry! 🙂 )

10 thoughts on “Straight From The Editor x 6 – A Pitch Polishing Extravaganza!

  1. Corine Timmer says:

    Thanks Susanna and Erin. It’s so helpful to get feedback from the editor’s mouth. I feel more confident about my pitch now. I’m working on a Valentiny story. That chocolate brownie will help me along 🙂

  2. matthewlasley says:

    It is great to see the feedback.

    I noticed Erin ended many pitches with “?” I know each editor/agent is different, but every class I have taken, every conference I have been too, and nearly every book I have read, says not to in most cases. They always say to show your craft by making the editor/agent wanting to ask that question and wanting more.
    When you pick up a book (albeit not usually a picture book) the flap usually has a blurb which is a pitch for you the reader to pick it up. Seldom do they ask a question.

    I am curious to have Erin or Susanna weigh in on this.

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