If you can’t pitch your book in thirty seconds, you’re probably not ready to send it to agents or publishers. And before you say, “But that’s your job”—you’re right! Our job is to convince other people to read your work, and we’ll probably come up with our own pitch down the line. But if you can’t distill the what and why of your book into a few punchy sentences, it usually means that your book is still gestating. It means that the foundational narrative has not yet emerged.
My second piece of advice: Don’t write what you know, write what you’re obsessed with. I certainly didn’t come up with this phrase, but I did see Amber Sparks tweet it recently and I understand it to mean, Write toward what you want to know. When I think about the books I’ve loved, it’s clear that the writer was fascinated by their subject: the migratory patterns of Artic terns, the legendary soprano of a Parisian opera, the psychopathy of a flirtatious serial killer. None of these topics are inherently fascinating, but a great writer can make their obsession your own.
—Stephanie Delman of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates