On Twitter, on the fourth Friday of every month, Curtis Brown and its sister agency Conville & Walsh host #PitchCB. Thousands of authors have already pitched their unpublished books to the literary agencies in 140 characters or less, using the hashtag #PitchCB. For more information on how to take part in #PitchCB, visit the Curtis Brown website here.
Include the conflict, obstacle or dilemma in your pitch – setting or genre isn’t enough. Remember to entice and intrigue with pitch rather than give it all away. If possible add flavouring.
Ideally, wait until you have a full manuscript (or proposal for non-fiction) before you pitch. Agents will request what they’re interested in now and things may have changed in six months’ time. We run #PitchCB regularly and so there’s always next month! Think about your Twitter profile and what it says about you as a writer. I always take a look at an author’s profile before favouring a tweet, so make sure your page reflects your personality, is professional, and perhaps gives a few more clues about your achievements and ambitions as a writer.
Know your novel. That sounds obvious, but if you’ve identified your key themes and the market you’re appealing to, you’ll be much better placed to pitch it to agents. Using a question in your pitch can be a good way of catching the attention of agents – make it a compelling one!
A pitch needs to present the central problem or plot point in the novel, not just the characters and setting. We’re always drawn to pitches that sound unique – so the more specific it is, the better
Don’t make gags about how you’re the next enormous so and so – very off-putting!
Be as specific, as microcosmic, as possible – rather than pitching ‘A love story’, tell me the telling detail, the twist, the thing that makes it different from all the other love stories out there. Don’t waste your 140 characters telling me that your novel is ‘book-club’, or ‘literary’ or ‘commercial’. Do tell me a story.
The most compelling pitches are the ones that really capture the central conflict of the story. If a novel can’t be boiled down this way, often this means that the writer isn’t sure what the novel is about. My favourite example is the logline for the movie Splash with Tom Hanks – “Boy Meets Girl. Girl is Fish.” It’s simple, effective, and intriguing!
Don’t try and fit every element of your book into one tweet (or a series of consecutive tweets!) – think about your audience and focus on the main hook or dilemma at the heart of the story.
As well as expert teaching from published authors, all our three- and six-month novel-writing courses offer dedicated modules on submitting your novel to literary agents – and include sessions on writing a synopsis and preparing a covering letter. Click for more information or to apply for our creative writing courses.