Saturday, May 25, 2013

Help Wanted: Pitching an Agent

So we’re finally there, that half-dreaded and yet still thrilling moment when your novel is finished. The years of silent dedication to an often lonely and demanding craft are over. Only one thing is left; convincing a literary agent to take on your manuscript, hope that your new agent can persuade a publisher to buy the rights to your book, wait at least a year for the book to be reworked and reworked until everyone is satisfied, and then hope your novel is able to compete with the other 220, 000 books that will be published that year and that it will sell more than eight hundred copies, the standard for first novels. Oh, and did I mention that a middle sized literary agency will receive over FORTY THOUSAND  query letters a month, and of that forty thousand, they will choose two or three manuscripts to represent.

Hmm. So, maybe more than one thing.

The dread returns. Why am I doing this? What kind of person submits themselves to this kind of punishment and inevitable rejection? And for what?

If you’re a writer, you already know why. And if it’s who you are and what you breathe, the numbers honestly don’t mean a whole lot. We’re a neurotic bunch, capable of seeing great chasms in our work (and our life) and yet striding forward anyway, convinced that we have something to offer, something that people may need or enjoy, and we’re damned if we’ll let a little thing like .004% chance of getting an agent stand in our way.

Writers (and all artists) inherently understand this one truth: you can’t do this life if you’re scared. You can only do it if you must.

It’s been nearly five years since I started this particular journey. When I started SECOND BLOOD, Americans had yet to elect their first black president, Sarah Palin could see Russia from her house, and pop singers had realized their answer to sounding like real vocalists with the advent (and overuse) of Auto-Tune. But the cultural shifts haven’t mattered nearly as much as my life changes. A move to a new city, meeting some great new friends, and most importantly, meeting and marrying the girl of my dreams in a life-altering nine-month span.

Through all of it, the writing commitment never changed. And when I felt a bit weak, I received help from some amazing people who picked me up along the way.

And so here we are, the moment of truth. The moment I've been waiting for… and the one I've been dreading. After all these years, it’s time to send my pitch to these overworked agents in the hopes of catching their attention. And so I’m asking for your help. I probably should be more oblique about it, but I won’t lie. I’m nervous. (Little known fact: when writers do the business part of writing (like proposals) they become as weak as lily frogs in a strange swamp with no tongue.)

So my plan is simple, I’m going to list a few of my pitch ideas, and ask which one you like the best. No, you may not know me personally, but I’d love your feedback anyway. Just throw it in the comments or on my Facebook page.

Here are the pitches:

PITCH A:

The Cursh have ruled the Empire for a thousand years. Their church has crept across the land, insidious and unstoppable, eliminating those who would question its supremacy. Only one country stands apart, a country protected by a magical talisman and fiercely guarded by its powerful female army. But even they offer only token resistance.

Only one true foe remains, a legendary group of mystics and healers said to possess strange powers. They alone can challenge Cursh rule. But do they exist? Or are they nothing more than children’s tales, forever banished into myth?

The prophecies say that they will return. That they will be led by a woman. And that she will be a great warrior.

So why are the Cursh worried about an awkward eighteen year-old scholar? A shy carpenter’s son who finds solace in his books and the forest.

Unless, of course, the prophecies are wrong…

PITCH B:

…They call me Ghost. I do not like the name, but I understand it, for I am their story. Their guardian. Their myth. But we are all just orphans here, survivors of a shattered realm and veiled to the thousands who walk the upper levels. They choose not to see us, because we remind them of their failure. 

Of our failure.
 
Even still, the Lament cries out to me. It cries to me things I do not understand, things I do not want to hear. Once, I would have searched my books for answers, but they, too, are gone, buried in a dream that was once my life.

I am trying not to lose hope. My friends count on me, even if I am just another orphan, even if I am nothing special.

There is a chance she still lives. A chance that she will come back. And if she does, then perhaps we can find a way to change the world forever…

PITCH C:

What if an Empire’s most beloved priest married its enemy’s greatest warrior?

What if that warrior gave up her powers so that she could bear children, a boy much like his father, and a girl who followed in her mother’s steps?

What if it all went terribly wrong?

PITCH D:

What if the most powerful church in history believed you were the one person capable of destroying them? What if their ancient enemies, a legendary group of mystics and healers, believed you to be their savior? What if they were both wrong?

PITCH E:


...I wasn't always like this. Tired and weak and wearing these ridiculous dresses like an ornament for festival. I was warned not to marry Caleb or have children, but after the Queen’s betrayal, I was afraid of what I'd become. Of what I was becoming.

Twenty years have passed. Twenty years of life in the shadows. I can feel them getting closer. I can see the signs. But I am more than they realize. Should anything happen to my husband, I will no longer be a tired housewife. I will be as I once was, when battlefields bled on my command and the Empire’s soldiers trembled at my name.

They will not take my family from me. And if they do, may the Creator have mercy on them, for I will not. 

So, what do you think? I appreciate the time, everyone. And thanks so much for your support over the years.  

Blessings,


Steve