Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pitches that resulted in publisher's contracts - The Witches of Calamora

This is a "pitch" that I sent out when I was shopping out my latest YA novel, "The Witches of Calamora."
Whiskey Creek Press/Wee Creek Press picked up the novel and I just signed the contract.

I am constantly looking at sites that offer yet another version of a successful pitch. And I have to say, there is no quick and dirty way to write a winning pitch. Whatever is out there, is a mere template - and it is NOT a fill-in-the-character's-names type of template that you could use to "fit" your novel into it. Any template out there is just for you to study, analyse and then try to come up with your own version of it that would apply to your novel.

The Witches of Calamora

We’re all aware of the current interest in YA novels such as Beth Revis’ “Across the Universe,” and also her “Shades of Earth.”  The story in “The Witches of Calamora” is also carried by two characters – teenagers Kitaya and Karin – who are brought together under inhospitable circumstances and slowly forge a friendship that springs from their mutual need to find their place in a vast galactic society that will always be suspicious of those whose brilliant mind and mental talents set them apart from the rest of the populations.  Karin is defensive, angry and relentless in her quest to exact revenge on those she holds responsible for the loss of her family. Her genius intellect helps her hide the flaws that have shaped much of her personality.  Kitaya is younger, more forgiving but paradoxically enough, she was born with the mind whose powers and capability could one day eclipse even those of the frontier gods. And what the frontier gods could do to the galactic human tribes is just too fearful to contemplate.

Much like in Jessica Khoury’s novel, “Origin” the energy beings who have taken on a human form choose to live in a jungle. Their dilapidated fort is as deceptive as the Witches themselves.

Kitaya’s sheltered upbringing, exceptional mental talents and elite education should have assured her a place amongst the frontier gods. But one wrong word and everything she has is taken away. Her mind is blocked, her memories are erased and she is brutally cast out into the world that is more alien to her than the world of the frontier gods would be to the galactic human tribes.

Both girls are survivors with bloody pasts that prevent them from dealing with their trauma. The thirteen year old Kitaya’s weapon is silence, while fifteen year old Karin hides her wounds with genius intellect and scathing sarcasm. Kitaya has pedigreed roots but she was born in the Rimworlds, a savage stellar region that no one wants to see on the cosmic charts. Karin has ancient roots but a tragedy that orphaned her as a child is preventing her from achieving her full potential.

The youngsters’ struggles and hardships, as well as victories over adversity, are given the necessary context whenever the story is carried by their adult caretakers, the self-styled frontier gods. The strife, bickering and malice within their own ranks continue to threaten the fate of the children. 

Do research a few novels that are similar to yours - whether in genre or character's motivation, or history, or behaviour - whatever - but do find a few that are like yours and then compare. Naturally, pick well-known novels or outright best-sellers and fearlessly compare yours to them. Hi-light similarities but be subtle such that you will also hi-light differences that will make your novel more interesting. Don't ever say "better" or anything along those lines. Interesting, fresh, challenging, newer, a different twist, etc, etc. Never put down a published novel, especially one that is a best-seller.

Mention conflict in your novel right off the bat. That's important - conflict, strife, hardships and resolution. Don't give away the ending but do give a hint as to how your characters will be affected and changed by the conflict - whether it's adventure, or suspense, or intrigue - anything that drives your plot. Look up a list of words that you want to use in your pitch and then use them throughout the synopsis. Don't be shy using words like "gripping, spectacular, horrors, adversity, tragedy," and any other hard-hitting word that gets the attention - of the reader and the editor.  

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