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View Full Version : Can a longish pitch work?



Cloudcastles
02-22-2012, 09:11 AM
My current pitch is between 275 and 287 words. The longer one has a more specific ending. The entire query with the miscellaneous stuff will be longer: My credits paragraph, etc, is under 100 words (exact length will depend on the specific agent queried). So that makes a total of maybe 370-390 words.

I hope that's not too long for an e-query?

It's for a fantasy novel. My concept and scope requires the additional wordage, and it appears there's not much I can do to cut the pitch without losing something important.

Another question: When I present the ultimate stakes at the end of the pitch, I say "may", but that bad stuff actually does happen at the end of the novel. Is that ok?

Thanks in advance.

Drachen Jager
02-22-2012, 10:15 AM
'May' encompasses 'will' for these purposes. You're not writing the whole story in the query, just the hook. That can be the first chapter or the first dozen chapters. Rarely it can go as far as the middle of the book. Once the hook is in you break off the query. Endings are needed in synopses, but not in queries.

You'll be fine on the word count. Agents are human, not magic pixies that disappear if they see a word over 250. So long as it is tight and interesting without being over a page they'll read it.

Old Hack
02-22-2012, 11:28 AM
My concept and scope requires the additional wordage

No, it doesn't. It really doesn't.

I know it seems to you that it does, and I don't mean to be rude: but almost everyone feels like this about their books, especially when they're new writers; but that doesn't mean that it's true.

quicklime
02-22-2012, 06:25 PM
No, it doesn't. It really doesn't.

I know it seems to you that it does, and I don't mean to be rude: but almost everyone feels like this about their books, especially when they're new writers; but that doesn't mean that it's true.


This....and I doubt Stephen King needs 100 words for his bio.

I know both sound harsh, but they are true.


Drachen makes a valid point, going long isn't a sure kill, but you probably aren't doing yourself any favors, no matter what you have convinced yourself of already. I can't think of a query over 250 words that I've liked more than some that came out well under 200. That includes at least one fantasy query.

Cloudcastles
02-22-2012, 06:46 PM
Thanks for everyone's advice. Unless you read my pitch it would be tough to tell you why my pitch is longer. I have no clue how to shorten it unless I cut some included info, which I feel will make my overall pitch suffer. Of course, I could be wrong.

I just posted something related to this here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7032264&postcount=132).

quicklime
02-22-2012, 07:47 PM
Thanks for everyone's advice. Unless you read my pitch it would be tough to tell you why my pitch is longer. I have no clue how to shorten it unless I cut some included info, which I feel will make my overall pitch suffer. Of course, I could be wrong.

I just posted something related to this here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7032264&postcount=132).


get your posts up, and put it in SYW.

I strongly suspect several people on individual passes will edit it to well below 250 words. You need to learn to make every word count (ideally make them do double-duty) and that not everything in the book will, or should, make it to the query. That can take some time, but later you'll look back and wonder why it wasn't obvious the first time.

Gatsby
02-22-2012, 10:22 PM
Is shorter always better? I'm editing my query right now and have two versions: one contains a mini-synopsis of one paragraph (146 words); the other's mini-synopsis is broken into four concise paragraphs totaling 211 words.

Gatsby
02-22-2012, 10:24 PM
get your posts up, and put it in SYW

What is SYW?

Cyia
02-22-2012, 10:34 PM
Share Your Work.

It's a password protected (password:vista) subforum here where you can post short sections of your work, or your query letter, for feedback. You need 50 posts to start a thread, but you can participate in existing threads from day one.

The password keeps out the bots, and protects the writers' work, as it's not considered "published" when kept behind a protected wall.

Gatsby
02-22-2012, 10:42 PM
Thanks, Cyia!

quicklime
02-22-2012, 10:46 PM
Is shorter always better? I'm editing my query right now and have two versions: one contains a mini-synopsis of one paragraph (146 words); the other's mini-synopsis is broken into four concise paragraphs totaling 211 words.


better is better.

the thing is, within limits, that usually means "shorter". You can fit a lot in 200 words. And if you can't fit your distillation into the 200, very often, there's more distilling to do and you have some fat for trimming.

not seeing yours we couldn't say yet, but it is a pretty general rule....

Drachen Jager
02-22-2012, 11:16 PM
The entire job of a query is to pique the agent's interest. You want them to read it, and immediately think, "Oh, if this is well written I can probably sell it without much trouble."

That's it, and I think that's where some people end up going over-long. You don't have to explain the entire novel. The query is an amuse-bouche for what is to come. It gets the agent reading the manuscript. From that point on the manuscript must sell itself.

Cloudcastles
02-23-2012, 08:52 AM
Thanks. I've since figured out a better pitch ending. After I polish up my synopsis I will probably try querying 2-3 agents first and see what happens.

Drachen Jager
02-23-2012, 10:15 AM
That's a very low number. You need a sample of 10-12 or so to really see how your query etc. is doing. Even a great query could easily strike out 3 for 3.

quicklime
02-23-2012, 05:33 PM
what drachen said....a good query may still bat about a 20-40% request rate.....so 3 is too small to be a statistically meaningful sample in pretty much any case

OohLaLaura
02-24-2012, 05:03 AM
I'm glad you mentioned sending out a larger batch of queries. I was thinking of sending fewer, also.
Thanks!