Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Trouble with Blurbs and Pitches

~Sia McKye~

I’ve only gotten serious about my writing the last couple of years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a lot of writing in my professional life for articles, seminars, radio, newspapers, and industry styled periodicals--that's work. While I’ve told stories all my life and written down many of them, it’s only been a recent thing for me to consider fulfilling my dream of writing novels and having them published.

I have several friends who are authors and who have been a big encouragement to me. They’ve taken an interest in my writing and try to help me improve. One asked me to give her a brief blurb about one of my stories. I’m thinking, brief? You see, me and brief, we have problems and we’re not exactly close friends. I thought, hey, I can do this. After all, I wrote several 90,000-word books, so how hard can it be? I hunkered down and got to it.

Three days and seven drafts later I gave her what I thought was brief. Ahem, need I say it was in need of a major blood transfusion when I got it back? Then she added the word “concise”, sigh…I thought two pages was concise.

She then gave me a helpful clue; think of the back cover of a book. Two days and twelve drafts later I hand her the blurb. Her response? Sia, just how big do you think a book cover is? Oh-oh. The next day and we won’t mention the draft count, I handed it back to her. Good word count, however…then came all this stuff about character goal, motivation, conflict, word choices, and yeah, it was still bleeding to death.

My friend is tough and has pushed me to be the best I can be and not to give up. She also thinks one should always practice pitches—who knows when you might meet an acquiring editor? I have a lot of respect for her. So, you know whom I went to when I was preparing a 50-word pitch for an editor. This time it only took me one day and four drafts—I had been practicing. I got it back, “close but not quite.” I growled—hey it impressed my dog. I went for a walk, did the dishes, polished my nails and sat down, determined to get this thing right.

My final draft? “Wow, you got it!” Shock, followed by the wet noodle thing, and then elation.

If an editor does more then just read the manuscript, and offers me a contract?

I’ll tell you what it feels like to win a lottery.

Sia McKye has spent over twenty years in marketing and promotion. She's written and published various articles on writing, marketing, and promotion. She's a Marketing Rep by profession and also writes fiction.