As promised, the last part of my Skype chat focused on my pitch (well, there wasn’t time to discuss the whole thing, so we talked mainly about the single sentence). To refresh your memory, here’s the log line I crafted:
When Toni Donnelli refuses an international security company’s unsolicited job offer, she jeopardizes her life—and the safety of her family—and must find a way to get the company off her back for good.
Here’s the feedback I got:
1. The words, “off her back” aren’t threatening enough. They could mean nagging, stalking, bullying, or tele-marketing – they do not inherently imply danger or death. If I want to call my novel a suspense novel (see point #3 for clarification on that one too), then the stakes need to be plainer in my pitch.
2. In an effort to get everything into a single sentence, I had to make it a rather complex beast. Both agents agreed that it’s too convoluted. Either I need to seriously simplify it, or (and here’s a sneaky agent tip) make it into more than one sentence. yes, you heard me–your single sentence pitch can actually be TWO sentences!
3. I am not writing a suspense novel. Nope. I’m writing a romantic suspense novel. There is a romantic component to my novel, but I assumed that to fit the romantic suspense sub-genre, the standard HEA (happily ever after) had to apply. I was told by Colleen Lindsay that this is not the case. I can indeed make my protagonist’s relationship end in an inferno of suffering and anguish and still call it romantic suspense. Who’da thunk it?
Suzie Townsend was quite intrigued by possibilities of the protagonist falling for the ‘enemy’ (or at least, the person we think might be the enemy), and she said this element should be highlighted in my pitch.
4. The last thing I learned about my pitch is that I need to change my title. I was saddened to hear this. I thought Job Hunted was clever, creative, and intelligently related to the plot of my book, but two out of the three agents in the room said it was awkward and didn’t fit well.
Now, I could sit here and whine and snivel about this. Or, I could accept the feedback and start thinking about alternate titles. During the writing process, I have absolute say over everything that happens in and with my book. Once I submit it for representation and publication, I have to share control with others. I need to be able to handle feedback, edits, critiques, and reviews without taking them personally and getting upset. It’s all right to feel disappointed when a good idea has to be turfed, but I’m not going to make it as a writer if I can’t deal with it and make changes.
I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to chat with these amazing agents. I learned so much and had a great time chatting with them. I have to say I wish they represented romantic suspense… If you write YA though, these two ladies should totally be at the top of your dream agent lists!
Thanks again to Kathleen Ortiz for running the contest, and to both agents for giving up their Saturday to chat with the contest winners!