Crafting a Manuscript Pitch and Choosing Traditional Publishing

I’ve been asked by a few people why I decided to try for traditional publishing instead of self-publishing. I’m not sure I’ve addressed this topic yet, and if I have I don’t think I’ve really explained myself. I’m going to attempt to explain my logic on this, as well as address the actual process of preparing to query literary agents.


Ever since I was a child I’ve had an affinity for books. In fact, my favorite place in elementary school was the school library. I have vivid memories of looking at all of the books. I could walk in there today and take you right to the shelves that held my favorites. So maybe this answers the question, or maybe it doesn’t, but it’s a personal choice that I’m standing behind.Going the way of traditional publishing takes a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong, so does self-publishing, and to be honest I admire those who are successful self-publishers. But it’s just not for me.

Now… on to what it has taken to get to the point of crafting pitches and the synopsis.

  • Writing began on November 1st, 2014
  • November 5th, 2014–Created a Facebook page for self-motivation
  • 50,000 words written by November 30th, 2014=NaNoWriMo Winner!
  • December 2nd, 2014–Posted original synopsis on Facebook
  • Goal: Finish writing the novel by December 31st, 2014
    • Goal not met. 19,665 words revised (First Revisions)
  • January 16th, 2015–Blog created to track progress and help other writers
  • Goal: Finish writing the novel by January 31st, 2015
    • Goal not met. 40,433 words revised (First Revisions)
  • Goal: Finish writing the novel by February 28th, 2015 = FAIL
    • Goal not met. 55,068 words revised (First Revisions)
  • March 12th, 2015–Finished drafting first query letter and pitch
  • Goal: Finish writing and First Revisions by March 31st, 2015
  • Goal: Beta Reader results by April 30th, 2015
  • Goal: Second Draft Revisions done by May 20th, 2015
  • Goal: Begin querying May 21st, 2015

And finally, on to the art of crafting a pitch/synopsis!

What I have learned–A pitch can be done in person, on twitter, or on paper. It can be short, medium, or long (but not longer than 9 sentences, from what I’m told). Summing up a 300 page novel is hard. Like, really hard. Not only summing it up, but crafting it so that people want to read more. You can’t give anything away, but you can’t generalize. You have to set the tone and setting while also conveying the overall idea. Did I mention that it’s hard? Now, try summing it up in one sentence… I agonized for literally hours and hours working on my pitch.

And so, here it is, folks… probably the most information I’ve revealed about Shelved since I started writing it. Enjoy, and feel free to comment on whether or not you think these pitches make you curious to read it or not.

One sentence/Twitter pitch:

1950s Cold War YA: Shady political actions lead Penelope into a deadly puzzle to find the truth and save her town. Can she?

Two paragraph pitch:

It’s the year 1958, and self-proclaimed tomboy Penelope Graham is about to graduate from rural Stratford High School. Following an air raid drill on the last day of school, Penelope is sent home with two peculiar directives—to deliver a troubling and unexpected message to her father, and to tune in to an impromptu radio broadcast from the White House.

Until now, Stratford’s secluded Midwestern location has buffered the threat of the Cold War. But when the President introduces a strange new “Mandate Contract” requiring Americans to entrust their lives into the hands of the Life Security Agency, Penelope uncovers a secret that changes everything. Along with her best friend, Jeremy, Penelope must race to untangle a deadly puzzle and find out who she can trust… the future of Stratford depends on it.

As always, thank you for reading and for your support!


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