I can empathize with Charlie Brown’s fright right about now because in less than one week (on Saturday June 24th) I will attend a conference and at the end of the day have the extraordinary opportunity of pitching my book to three agents!
How did I get so lucky? Well, it all started a little over two weeks ago when my dog developed severe diarrhea which lasted for five straight days AND nights. You don’t need to be an actuary to calculate the odds of eventually stepping in shit, which apparently really does bring good luck (once you clean the crap from between your toes).
After the doggie diarrhea dissipated (say that five times fast) my wonderful friend and neighbor told me about the 4th Annual Publish and Promote Your Book Conference at Sarah Lawrence College and I signed up for it. Quite a few hundred dollars later (this isn’t including the two hundred dollar vet bill) and voila, my very first agent/newbie author pitch fest!
Wednesday evening I will be attending a two hour session as part of the fortune I paid which will teach me how to develop my ‘hook’. No, we don’t pick up tips on how to knock out the agents with our fists, but we DO learn how to wow them with our words.
Success in grabbing an agent’s attention simply comes down to this:
In one sentence I need to describe my protagonist, the setting of the book, the conflict or inciting incident, what’s at stake, and what emotions I want to elicit from the reader. Simple, right?
That’s the picture I have in my head, too. Writing the book was easy compared to writing that hook sentence, and I now know why they call it a hook…because catching the perfect fish (agent) is near impossible.
But I am going to give it my all and have written and rewritten my hook about eighty-five times within the past twenty-four hours. I wish I was exaggerating about that number but I’m not.
I finally came up with my hook and got all excited until the realization hit me that if the agents I chose were not looking for a cozy mystery, which is what my book genre is, then it really doesn’t matter how perfect my pitch is because it’s not the type of book they are looking for. (We were given a list of agents to choose from but by the time I signed up for the class, half had sold out already)
Now for the drumroll…I am going to throw you my pitch and want to know if you’d be interested in reading my book! Ready, here goes….Oh wait, one more thing…if you read my pitch and do NOT think that you’d be interested in reading my book, just lie and tell me it’s great anyway, ok?
I need all the encouragement I can get and that ONE negative comment will throw me into a complete funk, but then again maybe you shouldn’t lie because then I WON’T know if you really DO like the book or just told me you do because I told you to lie. Scratch the lie part, be brutally honest. Ok not brutally honest, just validate my feelings first and then tell me gently it’s no good. I don’t do rejection all that well.
And here’s my pitch:
Gullible but compassionate nurse practitioner Winnie Finella works the gang laden streets of the Bronx with a license to deal drugs as she visits the homes of the in-firmed, but when her unrefined, foulmouthed cop cousin Gwen uses her as bait to haul in a drug lord, Winnie realizes it will take more than just STREET SMARTS to stay alive. (THAT’S MY HOOK, BTW)
Winnie gets coerced by Detective Gwen Finella to aid her in gathering information on the Blades, one of the most dangerous drug trafficking gangs in the Bronx.
To complicate matters, the cousins each have the hots for the other’s work partners, a geeky physician from Portland with an apparent dual personality and a scorching hot Mexican stud cop with seductive innuendos that keep Winnie’s battery-operated boyfriend charged at night.
As if life isn’t complicated enough, Winnie cares for her elderly, demented uncle Pop, who concocts ingenious non-FDA approved schemes to rid ailments such as wrinkles and hemorrhoids to the delight of his Twitter followers.
So that’s the story line, folks. Take it or leave it but if you want an easy read that keeps you entertained as you burn in the sun (the nurse practitioner in me asks you to please apply SPF 50+ sunblock) than this is the book for you!
Wish me luck on Saturday when I meet the agents!