Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Peek Into a Pitch Letter

Yesterday, the fabulous Mindee Arnett posted her query as well as some query tips which she felt helped her find me and get my attention.

(Check out the query and those tips when you get a chance, I told myself I wasn't going to sign new clients or go out with new projects this summer unless I found something that Blew. Me. Away. and Mindee certainly did.)

But this got me thinking (I do a lot of that), and I asked Mindee for permission to post the letter I used when pitching to editors.

The Fabulous Mindee


The first thing I did when preparing for submission was make a submission list--I made a list of the editors I thought would love Mindee's writing style and the character's voice, as well as be hooked by the story. Then I looked at some of their (or their imprint's recent acquisitions) and pitched the project to a few colleagues for practice and some of them said "Oh, put this editor on your list."

Once I had my submission list, I was going to send to 10 editors.

So I made the calls.

For THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR, which I pitched as Paranormalcy meets Hex Hall, I explained to editors that I got Mindee's query right before a conference. While there I read the whole thing, and then I called her the Monday morning I left for New Zealand, because I knew it couldn't wait until I got back.

Everyone eagerly requested to see the manuscript, and I sent it to them with this letter:

[Editor],

Here it is--THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR by Mindee Arnett. I hope you love it :)

16-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magical being who feeds on human dreams.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder. The setting is Arkwell.

And then it comes true.

Now the Dusty has to follow the clues--both within Eli’s dreams and out of them--to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

Mindee Arnett’s debut novel, THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR (80,000 words), is Paranormalcy meets Hex Hall. Mindee lives in Ohio with her husband, two children, four horses, four dogs, and a plethora of cats. Her short stories have appeared in various magazines, and she has a Master of Arts in English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She also blogs and tweets--and she’s hard at work on her next novel.

Best,

Suzie Townsend


So if you check out Mindee's query, this is a little different, but I definitely used her query as a springboard.

And for those of you who like statistics, THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR officially sold to Whitney Ross at Tor Teen in 16 days.

15 comments:

Lola Sharp said...

Psst...I *think* you mean a PEEK into a pitch letter. :)

Janet Reid said...

I'm pretty sure there's not a single editor in this entire town who puts off reading manuscripts you submit. I've seen you sell in 36 hours...to the chagrin of the *other* editors and the ENVY of your agent pals.

You are the cat's pjs, and the shark's sox!

Lola Sharp said...

Also, it's a terrific post. And CONGRATS to you and Mindee on the sale.

(you can delete my first comment if you like.)

Gina said...

What a fantastic concept. Congrats to both of you!

Marsha Sigman said...

Congrats to you and Mindee! The query and the pitch were great.

Rebecca Kiel said...

Thank you for posting your query letter. I especially liked your last paragraph!

suzie townsend said...

Lola, you were right, and I totally deserved to be called out for my usage error, haha. apparently I was still sleeping when I wrote that part.

Shelley Watters said...

Congrats to both of you! Thank you for sharing this! It's so interesting to see how a query morphs into a pitch letter and how they are similar/different.

Thanks for the post!

Elizabeth Briggs said...

This is great, being able to see how the query turned into the pitch. Thanks!

Liz said...

This was very informative-- But I'm curious as to why you changed "Veronica Mars meets Hex Hall" to "Paranormalcy meets Hex Hall". Is the TV comparison too much of a leap?

Carrie Butler said...

Congratulations! How exciting! :)

Susan J. Berger said...

What I specifically noticed was how much sharper you made an already good query. You kicked it up about five notches. Wow!

Stephsco said...

I like the sound of the book! Great comparisons from what I can tell. There was such a fun flair to Paranormalcy, I hope to see more of that - paranormal YA with humor.

Poewin said...

Great post! Thanks. :) It's always interesting to learn what happens AFTER you get picked up by the ever elusive agent. I think a lot of writers, myself included, tend to think all of the hard work ends when you get an agent (not that I would know first hand). Only to learn that it has just begun...

So exciting the book sold in just over two weeks!

french sojourn said...

Love the books concept and voice.

good luck!

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?