By Peggy Thomas
Last month my regional writer’s group – Rochester Area Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Hi RACWI!!!— had an excellent panel discussion on creating the perfect twitter pitch. I’ve never created a pitch, but I want to because according to my friend Kathy Blasi, author of Hosea Plays On, a pitch is not just for twitter. A well-crafted pitch can help you stay on track as you research, write and revise. It will help your agent sell to an editor, an editor sell to editorial, and marketing sell to readers. That’s a lot of work for just a couple of sentences.
Today, I'll share some of what I’ve learned so far. I am far from an expert, so if anyone can add tips, tricks, or advice, please put in the comments section. I can compile and post a pdf, so you are all ready for next week's Twitter Party at #PBPITCH, THURSDAY, OCT. 29. Not sure I’ll have anything ready by then, but I’ll try.
There's not a lot out there specific to nonfiction, but here are a few resources that may help:
A twitter pitch can only have 280 characters including spaces. You can’t cram all the information from a query into a pitch. So be selective. You want to be informative yet intriguing.
Questions to ask yourself :
There are several possible formats you could use for your pitch, but I’ll discuss two.
1. If your PB is a biography, then you could follow a modified version of the fiction model:
Character + Obstacles + Goal = How they changed the world
Based on this format my 2021 biography would be:
Lincoln + death of son & bloody civil war + provide hope = cleared a path so all Americans could have a better future.
After lots of hair-pulling, I came up with:
Thwack! Abe chopped trees. Swish! He cleared brush. Lincoln always helped others. When faced with a bloody civil war, the grieving
president lifted his pen, and as surely as he held an axe, cleared a path for America’s future. #PB #NF [234 characters & spaces]
In my attempt to pique curiosity, I used bits from the book to create images and give a sense of the style. I did not mention the title, word count, or all the research I did. That would come later if an editor was interested.
It’s important to note that this twitter pitch is not what I’d say to a person in the proverbial elevator, either. That might sound more like:
My book, Lincoln Clears a Path is a picture book bio that explores how
Lincoln, when faced with a bloody civil war and the loss of his son,
cleared a path for America’s future with 4 key acts and 1 proclamation
that provided much needed hope, and changed the nation forever.
2. Another pitch format asks the question your book answers. For example, here is a pitch I came up with for a new project:
In a predatory world, how do animals ever survive? Meet 13 death-
defying animals in NOT TODAY! Amazing Prey Escape. Featuring 2020 research that’s hard to swallow. #PB #NF [176 characters & spaces]
Another variation that’s more specific:
Could you survive a jackal attack? A meerkat could. Find out how in
NOT TODAY Amazing Prey Escape. 13 death-defying animals, 2020
research and 1 spine-chilling end. #PB #NF [173 characters & spaces]
A few other tips:
My pitches are still works in progress, but it’s fun. I’ll keep you updated with different formats and suggestions as I learn more. Give it a try. Let’s flood the #PBPitch site with #NF and show everyone that nonfiction rules!
Peggy Thomas is the author of dozens of award-winning children's nonfiction, and co-author of Anatomy of Nonfiction: Writing True Stories for Children. For information on critique services or virtual visits, go to www.Peggythomaswrites.com
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