Guest Post: Writing A Pitch by AM Blaushild

Guest post by AM Blaushild (https://amblaushild.wordpress.com), a book reviewer (https://crowdefeatsbooks.wordpress.com), and author of Angel Radio (https://amblaushild.wordpress.com/books)


Many readers are aspiring writers themselves, and it feels like nearly everyone I’ve met has mentioned they one day dream of publishing a book. I’ve been lately surprised by how little anyone seems to know about the publishing industry, even those who want to get in on it, and wanted to share some quick suggestions on writing a good query letter. Or more specifically, the pitching aspect of it.

Queries are pitches, both for you and your book. And they need to be good. Agents and publishers get too many to count, and only have so much room.

For agents, taking on an author is a large commitment, and they often can only handle so many. A small-press publisher can only afford to sign a few books a year. It is a tight, tight race, made suffocatingly so because you’ll never quite know what you’re up against.

Sometimes books aren’t taken because of trends in the market, or coming changes- your great book about dragon warfare in egypt might be given up on because a mediocre dragon warfare in rome book is currently in the pipeline. A dragon book you’ve never heard of which had a lot of money put in it may have recently flopped, and publishers are nervous to take on anything similar. Maybe the dragon genre is dying out, or too niche. Maybe they just signed a book about dragons, and you have bad timing.
It’s rough, but that’s how these things work.
A good pitch:
-Is selling your book, not talking about it
-Highlights what matters, leaves what doesn’t
-Immediately to the point
-Short
-Thoroughly proof-read
One thing to highlight: A query is the whole ordeal, a query letter, while the pitch is specifically the part about the book. Will cover later on.
Here’s the thing. Publishing is a business. Agents are funny little go-betweens in the business, taking advantage of the breathing room. Both are in it to make money. They will not publish something out of goodwill, or because you seem to really care about it. They will publish what they think will sell, or have lasting appeal, or perhaps simply because it’s the kind of thing that wins awards.
So you need to embrace this, a little bit. You need to make your book sound like something that will sell. Consider your book: what makes it unique? What makes it appealing? X meets Y, my eternal enemy, is a popular format for pitches because of this. Romeo & Juliet meets Die HardShadow and Bone meets Battlestar Galactica. I don’t know, I’m making these up as examples. Publishers eat them up because they sell your book in two tiny, recognizable chunks. I have two manuscripts I’d sum up as ‘Fangirl meets Supernatural‘ and ‘Catcher in the Rye meets Shadowhunters‘. Is that really true? Ish. But it’s close enough.
What matters to you doesn’t always matter to publishers, or even readers. I might really like that my egyptian dragon novel (yes, we’re sticking with that example) features an asexual MC, and want to gush about how important that is. Even a line about this would be too long, and honestly, a direct mention too much for a query.
Why? A line about diversity could work, but romance is the biggest genre of fiction by far, asexuality is a rarely discussed sexuality (they might not know what it means!), and you simply don’t have the space for it. If you’re applying to an lgbt press, you would want to mention it- they would know and care (you probably shouldn’t gush, though). If you’re trying to land in the mainstream, don’t mention it. If it comes up in the manuscript, they will learn about it then. Unless the story is directly about being asexual, it’s not a relevant detail.
It’s important to highlight what matters, and leave what doesn’t, but that can be hard to figure out sometimes. My Egypt Dragon Asexual book: let’s say it has a lot going on. A gay subplot! A lost princess! Magical powers! Ten types of dragon! War! Aliens! A big reveal that it takes place in the future, not the past! What the hell do you highlight when the plot is complex?
Well, you have to leave some things out. Even big things. Even if it feels like a lie. You’re selling the story in a very small place, and bending the truth a bit doesn’t hurt. Using hypotheticals makes this hard, so we’ll jump to something real, and almost as insane sounding-
The Ascension is a manuscript of mine, about a girl who goes on a quest to awaken her country’s patron god with her best friend, and later a thief they meet on the way. But at the mountain, the thief runs off to awaken the god himself (fulfilling his own local quest), and the god actually turns out to be a monster. And everyone dies, but they’ve been immortal since setting out (linked to the sky god’s life force), and then the MC is saved by an alien god of another planet, and chosen to become a god herself. And she starts to lose emotion as she gains strength. And the monster is still running around destroying the world, too. And her BFF/her both have a crush on the thief.
Sounds bonkers, right? There is a LOT going on. Here’s my pitch:
A teenage girl is sent on a quest to awaken her patron god in a deadly local tradition, but in doing so catches the eye of someone grander: The sky god, actually an alien, who wishes to turn her into a god. However, before her powers can properly develop, her two friends accidentally awaken an ancient monster bent on destroying the world, and it’s up to the increasingly inhuman Aster to stop it.
I did just throw that together, so it isn’t perfect, but it’s a good example of what I mean. Technically, the sky god doesn’t notice her because of the quest, and the thief is not one of her best friends, nor do both her friends awaken it, nor is the timeline quite true to canon. But the essence is there, and it frames the story in a cleaner, more appealing narrative than it actually is.
Pitching basics should include the genre (fantasy, but with aliens!), the main character (A teenage girl, her two friends), what they want (traditional quest/be a god), what’s in the way (giant monster/’increasingly inhuman’ implies this will be a future conflict), what are they going to do about it (stop it). A few fun details, too: ‘deadly local tradition’ isn’t very exciting in canon, but does sound like it might be interesting. ‘catches the eye of’ could imply some fun romance, even if it doesn’t. Neither are lies, but they make it sound a lot more intriguing, and step one of landing a contract is getting your contact to read your manuscript.
Most pitches are like this. I usually write full book-blurb style pitches and work down from there, and some (often publishers as opposed to agents) prefer this method. There still should be little excess detail.
Hey, here’s another example- the pitch I used for my book, Angel Radio:
Erika is the last human alive. It’s been weeks since the angels- strange creatures of eyes and wings- arrived and brought with them the death of everyone she ever knew. leaving her to wander her desolate hometown. But the angels have something sinister planned for the world they have emptied, and when a strange radio broadcast sends Erika into the world, she’ll need all the strength she can muster just to survive.
Looking back, I’m fairly embarrassed by my query, but it worked. You ever see mainstream books that are startlingly bad? Yeah. Unless you’re on the inside, you never really know what is going on in the book business (but usually, yeah, it’s about the market, and money).
Oh, and a last point: of course, make sure you avoid any and all errors spelling and grammar wise. These people are hoping you’re a competent writer, and if there’s one mistake, a particularly overloaded agent may have no problem passing on the rest of your query.
 
That about covers a really rough guide. Pitches should be about a paragraph in length. Check with agency sites/publishers before, but my rough guide to pitches is
1. Hello hi
2. Here’s my book right off the bat
3. More info, like wordcount, listed genre, whatever. expanded deets.
4. About me
5. thank you very much
It should be short, about a page. Don’t list anything about yourself that isn’t relevant, but if you have nothing relevant, still try to say something. Otherwise it just looks like you forgot. If you’ve been writing for a while, that works. If you’re doing a book about science and are a scientist, bring that up, or maybe if it’s about mental illness, mention your own struggles. Don’t spend too long here, or get too personal. Business, unfortunately, is business.
Publishers will generally take more than agents. I’ve had many that directly want a full summary of the book, a longer bio (smaller ones especially enjoy if you have good social media/means to advertise, as they have lesser budgets/reach). These things are specified.
A good conclusion to this? I’d scroll up and read my short list again. Here’s what not to do, I suppose:
-Have too much detail (often loses focus of what the main ‘plot’ pitch is)
-Have not enough (makes it sound bland)
-Too personally involved (‘this book means everything to me’)
-Too self confident (‘fantastic, amazing’ just about any adjective you put on character stuff, world, pitch. Use more open ones. You might call a world ‘vast’ instead of ‘incredible’)
When you have a lot of unseen competitors, you can’t assume anyone will want to put up with you. In theory, being passionate about your work is fantastic! In practice, you may come off as a dolt. And it helps to remember: there will always be more besides you, hoping for the same thing.
So turn in your best work!

A M Blaushild is a writerreviewer, and enigma.

Guest Post by Gonzalo JN Dias : Author Spotlight

moi-ii

Have you ever read anything by a Portuguese author?

What could the opinion about USA of one of the oldest countries in Europe be? There’s an object parked on the moon, but curiously, the unfolding of the story does not take place in New York, but rather, in Lisbon suburbs and in a small village between Portugal and Spain.

The main character, Gustavo, does not get along well with his parents-in-law, and his wife does not like Gustavo’s friends.

A genre-busting book that includes adventure, thriller, dystopia, utopia and an exciting love story.

It became the most downloaded book in Portuguese last April, and it has now a good English translation (I would say, better than the original).

Ready for a totally new point of view?

See some reviews on Amazon page or on the author’s official blog.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N0FTZ4O

https://twitter.com/GoncaloJNDias

cover

Guest Post by B @ Icebreaker694: YA Books Around the World – A List

Hello!

I’m Icebreaker694 and I’m currently hacking on this blog to bring you… YA Books Around the World一a list.

(I’m not really hacking, I don’t even know how. ) I’ve compiled a list of YA books that take place in different countries/continents around the world. If you like any of the books seen today, I hope you go to check them out!

Also give the owner of this site a follow while you’re at it.


USA

It’s a good place to start.

20345202

The Girl at Midnight

Here is a book for all yo u fantasy lovers. A bit of T he Girl at Midnight takes place in New York City, but Echo travels to a few other countries around the world (I can’t remember them at the moment, I don’t have the physical copy with me).

28763485

The Sun Is Also a Star
The Sun Is Also a Star is a favorite of mine. It also takes place in New York City, but you get to wander the city a bit more as Natasha and Daniel adventure together to make most of their only day together.


Russia

26156203

The Crown’s Game
Here is another fantasy book for those who enjoy reading about magic. T he Crown’s Game takes place in Russia around a Victorian time period.

 

23358109

Black Widow: Forever Red
About half of this book takes place in the US (New York City and Philadelphia) but the other half takes place in Russia (I don’t know how many cities Ava visits but I distinctly remember Scandinavia and Moscow. Correct me if I’m wrong.)


England

7171637

Clockwork Angel
I’ve brought in Cassandra Clare’s TID series again! C lockwork Angel and the rest of the trilogy take place in a Victorian period in London. Which is my favorite period of all time to read about.

24885790

Lock & Mori

Lock & Mori take place in a modern day London, but with a modern Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty. For those who like contemporary Sherlock stories, this may be a book you might want to check out. The sequel is also available now.

 


Wales

9460487

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
This book takes place in 1940 in an island off the coast of Wales. Of course a majority of this book is purely fiction, it’s still a great book to check out.


That’s it for today, I’m sorry I didn’t get to cover many other countries. If you know of any books that I haven’t mentioned you can comment here or on my site: Icebreaker694. Also be sure to follow this site hosted by Sam! And also I’d like to thank her for having me on once again. Bye!

Guest Post: Standalones That Should Get A Sequel by B @ Icebreaker694

Hi!

I’m so excited to be a guest post on RiverMoose-Reads! I’d like to thank Sam for having me on here!

I’ve composed a list for all of you to enjoy! I’ve once made a similar post for this for anime, but now I’m doing it for YA books! But this post was actually hard to make since most of the books I’ve read will be getting a series. But still I hope you enjoy reading this, and here are standalones that I think should get a series/sequel!


#1 

16068905

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I really liked this book a lot, and even though I’m pretty satisfied with the ending, I’d still like to have a second book. Will Cath fangirl about something else? How is Cath’s relationship with her and her sister going? Also I would want more Levi moments!

 

#2

15745753

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I know I’m probably cheating with another Rowell book, but I really think that this book should get a second one. The ending is bittersweet, and leaves off at a “sort of” suspenseful moment. I’d like a second book just to see if they fare after that ending.

 

#3

7664334

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

To be perfectly honest I really want all of Morgan Matson’s books to have a sequel. But I want one more for this book in particular. It leaves off at Amy finally moving away, and Roger promises to see her again, so I’d like to know if they ever fullfilled that promise. Morgan Matson doesn’t make sequels because she likes the characters to live in her mind and assume they’ll end up together. I really like that method too, but as a reader, I really want a second book.

 

#4

21396155

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

I wanted to spice things up with a fantasy book!

It’s the Forbidden Wish #1, so it implies that there might be a second book, but I haven’t heard of anything. I was actually fine with how this book ended, so I’m not pushing for a sequel as much, but I would still be very happy if Khoury decided to make a sequel/series out of this.


That’s really all the books I could find, hehe, but I still hoped you enjoyed this post! And go follow Sam’s site for me, will you? It’s really amazing, you won’t be disappointed! 😀

That’s it for me, bye!


B’s blog is over at Icebreaker694 and she is lovely and amazing so you should go check her out!

Follow her on Goodreads and Twitter too!

Guest Post: 5 Benefits of Writing for Mental Health by Talasi Guerra

5 Benefits of Writing for Mental Health

My name is Talasi Guerra and I am a mental health blogger. Let me clarify that—I am not a mental health professional. Rather, I am an average, every day person who is navigating the ins and outs of life with mental illness.

I have struggled with mental illness for most of my life. Obsessions started at a very young age, and by the time I was fourteen, I had developed an eating disorder. For the next number of years, I was tormented by depression, anxiety, and addictions, until finally, at age 21, I started to make some genuine progress towards recovery.

Since that time, nearly ten years ago, it has been an uphill battle. Fortunately, I have experienced many great successes along the way. Writing has been an essential part of my mental health recovery at every stage. And while I am so thankful for all of the professionals and treatment programs that have helped me over the years, I truly believe that writing has been the main catalyst for positive change in my life. So today I would like to share with you five reasons that I believe writing to be extremely beneficial for mental health.

  1. Writing encourages self-reflection.

Dealing with mental illness can be a very isolating and numbing experience. It can be hard to talk about, or even think about, the emotions that mental illness produces in your life. Writing through these struggles is such a healthy option because it causes you to reflect on what is really going on in your heart and mind at any given moment. Using writing as an outlet of self-reflection can help you pinpoint the root of your challenges so that you can later address them.

  1. Writing promotes rational thought.

If you struggle with mental illness, chances are you are plagued by a bevy of irrational thoughts on a daily basis. But the good news is that writing literally promotes rational thinking. While your irrational thoughts reside in your amygdala (the part of your brain that powers your “fight or flight” response in stressful situations), writing requires you to use a different part of your brain—the part that promotes calm, logical thinking! So you can think of writing as a weapon that actually combats your mental illness for you!

  1. Writing alleviates anxiety.

The result of using writing to promote rational thinking is simple: it alleviates anxiety! Because writing forces your thoughts into the logical portion of your brain, it allows you to see more clearly so that you can identify the source(s) of your anxiety. When you recognize your triggers, symptoms, and emotions, you can evaluate your experience by looking at the facts. Writing these things down this will help you to realize that you are not in life-threatening danger, as your amygdala would have you believe. It will allow you to breath a sigh of relief, reducing your anxiety!

  1. Writing generates revelation.

The easiest things to write about are the things in life that you have experienced personally. And as you write about your experience, it opens up the bigger picture that you were not able to see in the heat of the moment. Writing through your mental health journey allows for amazing moments of personal revelation that may never happen otherwise!

  1. Writing kindles a sense of accomplishment.

Mental illness causes you to constantly question your own value and worth. Chances are, if you are in the middle of a mental health battle, you probably deal with feelings of failure every single day. It’s important to include some activities in your life that can give you a sense of accomplishment. Writing is a great way to do so. To write anything—a journal entry, a poem, a blog post, a prayer, a memoir, etc.—is a great accomplishment. Completing it will remind you that you can achieve great things when you don’t give up.

Have you ever used writing to improve your mental health? Have you found it effective? If so, what would you add to this list?

 


talasi-2016

Talasi Guerra is a mental health blogger at braverthanbefore.com. She is also the Director of Children and Family Ministries and Graphic Designer at First Baptist Church in Lloydminster, Canada. She loves to travel, play strategy board games, and create! Follow Talasi on twitter @talasiguerra

A Guest Review: Spirited Away

Spirited Away is one of my favorite movies, and it is a much loved Studio Ghibli movie. I recently showed the movie to my cousins and one of them (you may know her from the Harry Potter: As Told By My 9-Year Old Cousin post I did a while back) wrote a review for me to put on my blog!

Enjoy!

Her Review:

              So I am writing another post for rivermoose’s blog. Yay! So I am writing a movie review for (drum roll please) Spirited Away by Studio Ghibli. Let me tell you, if you haven’t seen the movie in my opinion you should see it after this blog post. So my rating is five stars. I give it five stars because it’s funny, happy and not too sad. So I am trying to do a challenge to at least tell a summary in five sentences. (Which is at least a paragraph, because paragraphs are 3-5 sentences long.) There is a girl named Chihero. She finds a bath house that she has to work at because her father and mother are pigs. She sees witches, spirits (not creepy) and dragons. See the movie to find out what happens! Oh! How’d you like that? It was four sentences! You should really watch the movie. And if you want more of me go to mustloveunicorns.wordpress.com but I got to tell you it’s just started!

Isn’t she adorable?

Also, this is the first post I’ve uploaded since I got back from camp, the last couple you’ve seen (actually everything of the past month and quite a few of the upcoming month) we’re written and scheduled before I left. I’ll be writing more now that I’ve gotten back, and I’ll be writing all about camp, supercon, Pokémon Go, etc. But you’ll have to wait about a week, since tomorrow I get my wisdom teeth out… Joy.

Happy reading!