I read a rather tepid pitch the other day that left me thinking “so what, who cares?” The author must have the gifts of foresight because her very next paragraph started off with:
Now before you ask “so what, who cares?”…
Wow. I’m impressed – she got right into my head. But the rest of what she had to say didn’t impress me at all. She went on to compare her main character’s dilemma to that of authors and characters of other books. As in, “just like John Grisham’s Rudy Baylor or the insights of Elizabeth Gilbert, the depth of my main character touches on the same elements of ‘what if?'”
This forces me to make deductions and assumptions about this author’s work based on the characters and authors of other books. This is double trouble. First off, what if I’d never read Grisham’s The Rainmaker? I’d have to Google Rudy Baylor. But where would that get me since I didn’t read the book [actually I did. Not one of Grisham’s better works, IMO]? And what if I had no idea who Elizabeth Gilbert is? Sure, I could Google her, but it won’t do me any good since I have no frame of reference.
So this author shot her wad on people and characters I don’t know. She hoped I’d say, “ahh haa! Now I get it!” Nope, it doesn’t work that way. I should “get it” because the author pitched her story properly. A mere description and comparison does not a pitch make. It’s lazy and fraught with danger because she’s told me zip about her characters and her story. It’s almost as if she doesn’t know them well enough to describe them to me. Yeeks.
So there went her entire pitch. Right out the window. She depended upon other characters from other books to make the case for her story. This isn’t a selling point. Writers need to keep the editor immersed in their stories, not forcing them to Google around trying to figure out the golden thread that connects them to this pitch.
Word to the wise: You either pitch your story or you go home.