Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Final Five (or, The Perfect Pitch Finalists!)

Ok, so I admit I chose that title because I'm still very squee-ish over this last season of Battlestar Galactica. But this time I'm not talking about cylons...unless these people know something I don't.

Nope, I'm talking about the Pitch Contest and the five finalists! I didn't want to delay with this part of the process, so over the weekend and today I went to work. First, I narrowed the field by about 2/3 - a shortlist of around 16. And then...I sat with my pen and those pitches and made notes and deliberated and moved things around and finally came up with five pitches.

Before I announce the winners, I should mention that the number one thing I looked for was an engaging story that intrigued me. A story where I could see possibilities.

Other things that I paid attention to, but that did not trump story was:

The format of the letter. A nice, brief intro line or two is nice, the pitch, and a thanks at the end is appreciated. I prefer the pitch in the body, not as an attachment, but since I didn't particularly specify that, I didn't really take it into consideration. But, for reference, I do think pitches in the body is the norm of most agents/editors.

And I did look at the writing. If there are a lot of spelling errors, well, I take note. Correct spelling and attention to the sentences and structure show me you've put thought into it. I'm a big spelling freak.

But when it was all said and done, the pitch had to sell me on the story, and these are the five ladies that managed it, without further blathering from me!

Chelle Sandell

Caroline Witt

Soraya Nicholas

Sri Pammi

Nikki Cole

These five writers will be sending me their first chapters for a critique, and one will then put up with me for the remainder of the year!

I've had several requests to post the winning pitches, so as soon as I have the go-ahead from the authors, I'll post one a day, with comments on why I chose it, and even what suggestions I may have made regarding the story...

If you sent a pitch and didn't final, I WILL be replying to your pitch with comments, so hang tight. I do hope to get to everyone over the next few weeks.

One thing I'm learning from doing this is putting myself in an editor or agents's a reminder of how diligent I need to be when I query - so that I stand out from the pack.

So there you go! Congrats to the finalists!


  1. Congrats, everyone. Looking forward to seeing what happens next...

  2. Anonymous9:10 a.m.

    Letter? Intro line? Thanks?

    Oops! I thought a pitch was just 2 paragraphs to lure you into the story---I didn't realise you wanted complete query letters.


  3. Alice, the number one thing I was looking for was story. BUT, think of it this way. If you were meeting me and wanted to sell me on your novel, wouldn't you first say, "Hi, I'm Alice." Maybe shake my hand. Then tell me about your story.

    Actually, I think I'll post the first winning pitch, so you can see what I mean.

  4. Anonymous10:43 a.m.

    Thank you, Donna. I'm learning a lot from you doing this. I think maybe I confused pitch with logline.


  5. Whoohoo Everyone! Congratulations! I can't wait to read your pitches. :-)

  6. Congratulations to all the winners!
    And thanks to Donna for taking the time to run this contest. Much appreciated!


  7. Well done to the five winners! And thank you so much Donna for the opportunity.

    It was the first pitch contest 've entered, and I have a lot to learn about capturing the flavour and essense of my story so briefly!

    Pitching is an essential writer's skill, so I'm grateful for the challenge to learn something new!

  8. Congrats to the winners!

    Well, at least I've learned something from this. Thank you Donna.

  9. Thank you for the opportunity and for sharing your knowledge of the industry!!

  10. Well done to the top 5! This has been a fantastic learning curve and being able to write a pitch properly (which I hope to learn reading the winners!!) will be invaluable in the future.

    Many thanks, Donna, for running this competition - especially when you are so busy!

  11. Anonymous6:28 p.m.

    Just wanted to drop by and say a huge thank you to Donna for running this contest! I'm so excited about sending my first chapter in, but after reading that pitch I can see the competition is stiff!


  12. Thank you so much for the contest, Donna. It's been a good learning experience.


  13. GREAT job, ladies! And thanks again, Donna.

    The high volume of entrants speaks to how valuable a contest like that can be to writers.

    I know I appreciated the opportunity.


  14. Nikki Cole3:22 p.m.

    Congrats to the other finalists and thanks again to Donna for running this contest!

    I know I'm very late to the party - have had to share computer time with my husband for the last two months and as he uses the computer for work, I've been relegated to pinching a few seconds here and there when I can.

    Off to read the other pitches now!