Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pitch Lines That Don't Work

When going through a stack of query letters I received an inordinate number of pitch lines that I’m sure the authors thought were clever, but for some very obvious reasons they didn’t strike me the right way. So below I’m going to share some of the pitch lines and the thoughts I had when reading them. Keep in mind, these lines are just a small part of a greater letter and using one of these doesn’t necessarily mean automatic rejection.

...has all the ingredients necessary to make it a best seller and a blockbuster smash.
Does that mean you used the word “code” in the title and included an erotic love scene? I can bake a cake with all the ingredients necessary to make it delicious, but if I don’t put them together correctly it isn’t going to taste good.

A novel based on a true story
I honestly believe that every novel has a bit of truth in it. I would rather not hear that it was based on a true story, but hope instead that you’ve taken an experience, an idea, or a story and created something wonderfully fictional about it.

On a dare, I wrote a romance novel for some friends (not my usual cup of tea) . . .
Wow! On a dare I represent authors even though reading books isn’t my usual cup of tea. Seriously, I don’t have time to work with people who are only writing things on a dare, and don’t have the respect for their work (or mine) that’s required to make it in this business.

As for my novel, I won’t go into story details . . .
So what exactly are you going to talk to me about?

the book is a really rough edit so far. when i land the money deal i can move forward to make it complete
Again, please at least give me the courtesy of taking my job seriously.

I am interested in writing a fiction novel and I wanted to speak to you about the idea
I am interested in selling your novel only when you have a proposal.

I think what really gets to me about most of these lines is the casual manner in which they are presented and their lack of sincerity. This is a business, one I work very very hard at, and if you can’t respect that and respect the work that all authors do to get published, then don’t waste my time.

—Jessica

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