How to Pitch an Agent

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Literary Agent Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency has recently posted several blog posts regarding how to craft a pitch - i.e., how to sum up your story in a query letter.

Some writers find composing the query and pitch extremely frustrating, even to the point where they would rather write another novel than a query letter. If this is you, do not miss these posts. (If you happen to come upon this post many months after I've written it, just go to her blog home page and look to the right where she has a category of "Blog Pitch" posts.) Here's an example of what she's talking about:

"When writing your pitch paragraph, all you need to do is examine the first 20 or 50 pages of your manuscript. Then zero in on the main catalyst that starts the story forward—the main conflict from which all else in the novel evolves. It’s the catalyst kernel of your story that forms your pitch.
Don’t worry, I’ll show you some examples over the next couple of days but what you need to remember is that your pitch paragraph needs to read like the back cover copy of a novel. Notice that when you read the back cover of a book, it just gives a hint or a teaser of the story and that it also usually focuses on a crucial early event in the novel. That gets the ball rolling."