Saturday, November 23, 2013

queries & elevator pitches: Molli Nickell`s advice



One sure fire way to perfect your query letter is to practice speaking it. You'll be amazed at how quickly you'll be able to synthesize the focus of your book as you figure out a way to "tell" it. 

Then, when you attend a writers' conference, you'll be prepared to pitch your story idea to every agent you meet. The concept of "elevator pitches" has been around the writing community for years. The purpose of learning to do this is to help you break the ice when accidentally (or on purpose) meeting an agent while on the elevator or standing in line at a buffet table.

(An added benefit is that your spoken pitch can be translated into the opening paragraph--sales pitch--of your query letter.)

Here's a possible scenario:

You're waiting in line at the buffet, directly behind an agent you want to meet. You begin your pitch.  


"Lovely spread isn't it? Reminds me the story I've just completed where potato salad becomes the prime suspect in a murder case."  


Now, you have their attention. You're both looking at potato salad which is one of the items on the buffet.   


"I have a story about four baby-boomer women who are reunited at their 40- year college reunion. Three are trapped in abusive marriages. Over lunch and pitchers of Sangria, the fourth member, a happy widow, shares her recipe for a special mix of potato salad that helped her child-molesting spouse meet his maker. Potato salad becomes the "widow maker" as the women bump off their husbands, one by one. And they almost get away with it." 


This breaks the ice and opens the door for further conversation about your story and gives you the opportunity to ask, "May I send it to you?" The agent will respond accordingly, and "voila," you have a personal contact with someone interested in reading your work.

When you submit your material, use the same dialogue in your query letter first  paragraph. And be sure to identify yourself and state where you met (at the buffet at the Southwest Writers' Conference . . . or wherever). This gives you the advantage of being someone the agent knows. Your work flies to the top of their "read this" list.

Here's a thought: CLICK ON OVER to my "winning query" page, then practice speaking some of the opening paragraphs. You'll be amazed at how quickly you'll become more at ease with making a verbal pitch. 


How about a virtual workshop or consultation to help you become pitch perfect? 

Thanks to Skype internet/visual technology, I can help you learn to pitch. Location doesn't matter. What do you need the most? Pitching? Writing the query or synopsis? First page? Manuscript structure? Writing Mechanics? To discuss possibilities of how I can assist you and/or your group in expanding writing and/or marketing skills, CONTACT ME 


Help is at hand~

If you want my assistance with any aspect of your writing project, let me know. The Book Doctor is available 24/7 to help with big issues or little ones: whatever you need to complete, evaluate, or polish your manuscript or beef up your marketing materials (query, synopsis, first page). 


Give yourself an early holiday gift! Take advantage of a budget-friendly $29 fee for a 30-minute phone consultation. I'll help you identify what you need and how to best achieve your writing goals. CLICK HERE to contact me.


Write on!  








Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,


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