Submitting to agents Part I
Submitting to agents Part II
Submitting to agents Part III
Submitting to agents Part IV
Anyway this post is about how doing interviews on blogs can help you with your pitch to an agent.
One of the most common questions I've been asked is "How did you come up with the title/story/characters?"
The answer should not be "I was in the shower" or "I just woke up and had this idea". This is boring. People want to know the meaning being the title or the story or the characters. Not just that they were plucked out of thin air.
What this question really means to ask is "What motivated you to write this piece?"
It's this detail that can help with pitching. What did motivate me? Was it that I'm afraid of what the world is coming to, that I'm afraid of what humanity is unveiling, do I want good to win, evil to win, do I care about love anymore? So I thought I'd share some of the real reasons behind my novels and this might explain why some of them failed in the pitch.
The Bird With The Broken Wing:
It's a story about an angel who is trapped in Purgatory with the mortal she was assigned to watch over. It's only when a rebel teen enters Purgatory that the angel realises her methods to help her mortal ascend into Heaven aren't working.
Why did I write this story? I wanted to highlight to teenagers that when bad things happen that it isn't the end of the world. It might feel like it, but nothing is working killing yourself for. Even though the point of view is the angel's, the protagonist is the teenager. That's why it's written in third person point of view. I wanted to show the struggle of each of them for the angel to see, but I also wanted them to see the angel's own struggle. These are her flaws that are keeping them trapped in Purgatory, not the humans.
Why did I choose this title? The bird represents the angel, the broken wing represents that which is keeping her grounded i.e unable to fly. It also represents the vulnerability of this character in that she can be mended, with the proper care she can fly once more.
The pitch for this novel was for Young adult horror/paranormal fantasy. What I pitched is below.
Angels are bound by certain rules. For example;
Rule # 1: angels are forbidden to develop relationships with mortals
Rule # 2: an angel cannot reveal its true self to mortals
Rule # 3: angels are messengers carrying out a divine plan and must not interfere with the bigger picture
Nothing is known about the fate that awaits the angel who breaks the rules. Rachael is a guardian angel who is about to find out that sometimes it’s the angels who need watching over.
While the above is true, it doesn't truly represent the true story. It's about people who need to forgive themselves, who need to heal. It's about perfect beings not being so perfect. It's about real people dealing with real situations. It's about redemption. But I failed to get this across to the agents and publishers. Readers have enjoyed the story immensely despite my failings to pitch.
I didn't truly understand why I wrote this book until interviewers asked me. I gave a few lame excuses in the beginning, probably because the thing about writing is there is a huge part of the author that goes into the book. Our beliefs, our values, our fears. Perhaps this is why novice writers are reluctant to share the real reason behind why they write, because they're revealing themselves. Perhaps this is why we sometimes don't truly understand the story behind the story.
Truly understanding our stories and why we write them can help when we pitch our book to agents and publishers. I should have pitched The Bird With The Broken Wing as dark fantasy. I should have written more about the character's struggles in the blurb.
Despite my failings, it did get published in the end. And I learned a lot about the motivation behind writing by doing hundreds of interviews for blogs about this and subsequent novels. I'd recommend this to any new writer starting out. Get interviewed. Get to know your story from an outsider's perspective. Get to understand your motivation so it can help when you pitch.
As always, if you have any comments please feel free to leave them. I love to hear about other writer's journeys and experiences.
D L xoxo