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The Perfect Pitch

Cheryl's Musings: The Perfect Pitch

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


The Perfect Pitch

Did I mention that I've resumed sending out queries for The Last Violin? That has me thinking a lot about how to write a good pitch. Donald Maas gives one formula in Writing the Breakout Novel (and suggests that "quest" is always a good word to include); Miss Snark provides additional advice in her blog archives(; and Kristen Nelson offers examples of winning pitch letters on her blog ( Here's a clue: different agents have different ideas about what makes a great pitch.

The latest SCBWI bulletin offers an interesting article that made me rethink my pitch/query approach. The author shares my trouble with pitch creation--and like me, she submitted queries with substandard pitches and her sample pages, confident that those terrific sample pages would speak for themselves. And she received lots of "no thank-you's." The same sample pages submitted with a shorter, sparkier pitch gained her requests for more.

Interesting. Obviously, the pitch is important.

Here's a winning pitch from YA fantasy author Hilari Bell: "Aided by an underpowered, unreliable trickster spirit, two teens must change the course of humanity." She adds that ""change the course of humanity" is a totally meaningless (and ungramatical) phrase, that has nothing to do with the story either, but the pitch worked, so she's not complaining too loudly!"

And her agent says that "quest" is definitely a no-no in today's market. "Spirit quest" gives your pitch the kiss of death.

I think I'll take another look at my query letter....

:) Cheryl

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