Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Series Pitch

This weekend’s creeping up on me, so I thought I would avail myself of you, my loyal readers and fellow scribes. I’m being given one page and five minutes to pitch a series to a real live author at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. Having no clue how to do this I took the advice to make it sound like a query. After several attempts, this is what I got…
Eleven-year-old Schmitty believed pirates were the most despicable excuses of living creatures; less than human, with missing limbs and bloody entrails. His grandfather had told him so. And his grandfather knew. After all, he was not just a Navy admiral. He was the admiral. So imagine Schmitty’s surprise when, upon his mother’s death, he was sent—well, not exactly sent—to live with the father he’d never met, who just happened to be captain of a pirate ship.
Add a tendency for seasickness, a half-missing ear and a rather annoying case of amnesia, and Schmitty’s pirate career doesn’t start out too well. Worse still are nightmares reminding him of a friend he cannot remember and a death he cannot forget.
As Schmitty adapts to life among the pirates of San Iguana, he befriends Robin, a wisecracking cockatoo who would prefer to be left alone, and sassy Wendy Blackthorn, whose favorite solution to her problems is to run away.
Schmitty will need their help, because not all is what it seems. His mother’s death was no accident. It seems a mysterious ring, which somehow ended up on his father’s finger, is cursed. Now, a secret society, the Sons of Orpheus, believe Schmitty is the key to finding a mythical, lost treasure. Find the treasure - rule the world. Simple enough, but breaking the curse could lead to answers he may not want to hear. Or it could lead to certain death.
SCHMITTY THE PIRATE AND GRIMSTOKE’S CURSE is the first of a series following Schmitty’s adventures on the high seas, through deadly jungles, and beneath underground crypts in a race to find the greatest treasure ever lost.
Along the way, Schmitty must uncover traitorous lies, learn to be a son to a reluctant father, and, maybe, even fall in love. And, if he stays ahead of the Sons of Orpheus, save the world.

12 comments:

Kate said...

I've never pitched to an author, but I've attended confrences where people could pitch to agents. Giving an oral version of your query is the general procedure at those.

My only advice is talk - don't recite. If you have questions for the author, ask them. And give the author time to ask you questions too.

Travener said...

I definitely like what you've written - really interestingt. A couple of technical comments:

(1) either "excuses FOR living creatures" or "EXAMPLES OF living creatures" but not "excuses of..."

(2) is the half-missing ear a result of his pirate experience? then say something like "losing half his ear." if it predates being a pirate, how does it affect his pirate career? same goes for amnesia.

(3) i think it should be "Santa Iguana" since iguana is a feminine noun in Spanish.

i like the bit about the cockatoo!

I agree with what Kate said about your verbal pitch.

Good luck!

Matt said...

Kate and Trav - Thanks both. It's only five minutes, but I guess I can present it however I like. I was planning on using this as a guide and then going with a verbal. I have a feeling this is more of an exercise than an actual pitch that might result in a deal. But you never know. It's an author conducting the session, but there may be agents in the room.

Gemma Noon said...

Firstly, muchos kudos to you for posting this and for entering a pitch contest. I hate pitches, so you have my respect.

Secondly, I'm not sure what the conventions are for children's fiction but I've always been told that you should write queries, pitches and synopses(sp?) in third person present tense, regardless of how you wrote the book.


Finally, I hope you don't mind but I had a play around with your pitch, and this is what I came up with; no problems if you hate it and I apologise in advance if I've inadvertently cut / altered any major plot points, or mortally offended you.

Eleven-year-old Schmitty knows that pirates are the most despicable excuse for living creatures; less than human, with missing limbs and bloody entrails. His grandfather had said so and, after all, his grandfather was not just a Navy Admiral, he’s the Admiral. So imagine Schmitty’s surprise when, upon his mother’s death, he is sent—well, not exactly sent—to live with the father he’s never met; Captain (insert name) of the pirate ship (insert name).

Suffering from seasickness, a rather annoying case of amnesia and the discovery that part of his ear is missing, Schmitty’s career as a pirate isn’t starting out too well. As Schmitty adapts to life among the pirates of San Iguana, he befriends Robin, a wisecracking cockatoo who would prefer to be left alone, and sassy Wendy Blackthorn, whose solution to everything is to run away.

Schmitty will need all the friends he can get, because not everything on San Iguana is what it appears to be. His mother’s death may not have been an accident; his father has fallen under the curse of a mysterious ring, and Schmitty is haunted by the nightmares of a friend he cannot remember and a death he cannot forget.

On top of this a shadowy organisation, the Sons of Orpheus, believe Schmitty is somehow the key to finding a mythical treasure that will give them the power to rule the world. Finding the treasure should break the curse on his father, but it could also lead to answers Schmitty may not want to hear. Or it could kill him, and let the Sons of Orpheus destroy San Iguana and everything Schmitty holds dear.

SCHMITTY THE PIRATE AND GRIMSTOKE’S CURSE is the first of a series following Schmitty’s adventures on the high seas, through deadly jungles, and beneath underground crypts in a race to find the greatest treasure ever lost.

Matt said...

Gemma - With much gratitude I have copied your suggestion and intend to pilfer the best parts. Thanks for taking the time.

Traci said...

I like your pitch - it sounds interesting, and I think it's very concise.

By the way, we're back on the same page again, lol. I just posted about synopses 10 minutes ago:

http://writerscorner-traci.blogspot.com/2010/01/dreaded-synopsis.html

Great minds and all that. lol...

Erica said...

I don't know a lot about pitches, but I think you definitely have a great idea. The writing is solid and the ideas are thought out and described well.

Good Luck :o)

V.M.Pettingill said...

I really enjoyed this pitch. I may not know what I'm talking about, so take this with a grain of salt but this part: "—well, not exactly sent—" though may be good for the back of the book, may be too mysterious for an agent who may want to know what happenes if he wasn't actually sent.

Jm Diaz said...

Great Pitch Matt. Best of luck to you. Then again, Pirate's don;t need no stickin' luck!
Trav covered the only things I noticed, btw...

Matt said...

Thanks everybody. I'm leaving in a few minutes. While the actual pitch isn't until Sunday, I don't expect much chance to work on this anymore. I've taken all your suggestions and put together what seems to be a cohesive pitch. I'll let you know how it went on Sunday.

Kara said...

I like this- so much good info in here you should work into your query!

My only gripe is the falling in love thing. Kind of a strange image for MG. But best of luck with the conference!

Gemma Noon said...

Good luck for the pitch tomorrow xx