I think one of the best ways to understand the pitching process is to practice giving and receiving pitches with other authors. In recent weeks we've talked a bit about the way "hearing" a pitch is much different from reading a pitch. We've talked about the importance of organizing information in clear, linear sentences that are easy to listen to. We've talked about questions and have practiced thinking up likely questions for a particular pitch.
This time, instead of a targeted focus on one or another aspect of a pitch, I'm going to ask for general feedback. Use this to test whether you've been able to pull together all the points we've discussed so far.
Read the pitch through one time only. There are no do-overs when you're listening, so there can be no re-reads here if we want to accurately mimic the pitching experience.
Be gentle. One of the unwritten rules of pitching on my side of the table is that there's nothing to be gained by crushing anyone's hopes. If you have negative feedback -- and it does happen sometimes, of course -- present it with kindness. You're face to face with a real person, full of hope and probably sweating from an intense case of performance anxiety. Humaneness counts.
Your goal is to make one decision, and one decision only. Do you want to see the manuscript?
If your answer is yes, please let us know in the comments which part of the pitch sealed the deal for you.
If your answer is no, please let us know in the comments where the pitcher lost your interest. (But remember -- we are not sharks, and this is not a feeding frenzy.)
If you have questions after reading through the pitch, post them in the comments. Questions help a writer prepare for an actual pitch.
So, without further ado...
Miracle Maker tells the story of a young woman pursuing her dream of commanding an interstellar warship like her grandfather. Unlike her grandfather, she joins the multi-national United Nations Defense Service rather than her home world's Space Militia, because she wants to escape her family's pity and sorrow over the defects in her genetic enhancements that have drastically shortened her life expectancy. She soon finds that hiding her advantages and weaknesses from the suspicious 'Normals' is harder than she ever anticipated, especially when she's assigned as a junior officer to a ship that encounters action far more frequently than its peers. The pressure to abandon her dream rises as she first falls in love with an officer in her chain of command and then accidentally kills a fellow crew member during a boarding action. Feeling guilty and longing for an ordinary life, she's on the verge of resigning her commission when circumstances force her to take command to save her ship and the lives of her crew and herself. When she succeeds despite very difficult odds, Defense Service Fleet Operations gives her a choice: Resign to be with the man she loves, or realize her dream of command in the face of a grueling war.
Miracle Maker is a 125,000 word science fiction novel intended to appeal to fans of the works of Elizabeth Moon, David Weber, Catherine Asaro, and Lois McMaster Bujold.
I have some thoughts on this which I'll share later. But for now, we'll use this one for more group practice.