The Hook. The Elevator Speech. The Movie Pitch. Twenty-five Words Or Less.

The synopsis exists simply to get them to read the first pages. Don’t try to sell the whole book.

Originally, when pitching an agent (face-to-face or on phone as opposed to written contact, called the query), I said:

  • Literary fiction; a girl and her backpack in Southeast Asia.
  • This pitch worked from the beginning. I have never changed it.

In an envelope, the interested agent (promptly!) received the requested material; marked Requested Material on the envelope, highlighted and circled. My second paragraph, The Expanded Hook, read:

  • When we met at (place and time), you requested to see my novel, The Invincible Summer, a travel adventure of primarily internal terrain.  It is as much a story of learning to thrive from what life hands you as it is about using tai chi, the Chinese art of self-defense and self-examination, to survive incest. 

If I was submitting over the transom, it read:

  • At the advice of (drop name), I am contacting you regarding my novel … etc. Or
  • I am contacting you regarding my novel …
At the time, this was the  best I could do. Today, I see it as upper-mediocre.