Here’s how the pitch for my novel Homeschooling Slayer went at Surrey. It took a minute and fifteen seconds. Sorry for the blanks [____], but I don’t want to reveal the whole story here. I guess this is where I say you’ll have to buy a copy when it gets published someday.
AGENT: (looking at my name tag) Hello, you’re Mark?
ME: Yes. (sitting down) Well, should I describe my story?
ME: My novel is a humorous urban fantasy for adults, called Homeschooling Slayer.
The main character is Dee, who has the ability to put vampires into a trance, whenever they wander into her home for reasons she doesn’t understand.
The story starts with her having a great deal of angst over killing these vampires.
So far, they’ve been very zombie-like, not speaking or showing any signs of intelligence, so she could tell herself she was not killing human beings.
Now they’re starting to speak and show signs of planning.
She feels guilt over killing them.
We wonder if she will falter in the upcoming conflicts.
I put her through a few try/fail cycles:
She is captured by [_____], who can [_____], but she escapes.
She encounters a dark figure, who tells her [_____]. He warns her off from [_____].
In the end, she and her allies battle the [_____].
She says, [_____].
And so she [_____].
(pause) So that’s the gist of the story.
Every time that I’ve pitched, the editor or agent will stare at me without changing expression. Do not pause for them to react, do not ask if you’re doing okay. Just speak at a moderate pace in a clear voice, and include the same facial expressions, tones of voice or body language as if you were getting along famously. Remember, they want to know if you’re the kind of person they can work with. As Homer Simpson once yelled at his family: “Be normal!”