Publishing Update & The 5-Sentence Pitch

The publication process is underway! After two years of writing and revision, my debut novel has entered the final stages before publication! My copy editor starts work on STOLEN CLIMATES next week and my cover artist has picked out a location to get reference images to use in sketching out some initial drafts. My goal is to release STOLEN CLIMATES in the first quarter of 2012. I have not firmed up prices or outlets yet, but I’m working on those details and will let you know as soon as I do.

Part of publishing is coming up with back cover matter and a pitch. I was stymied by this for a long time, and finally asked for advice from a fellow indie author who has been very successful. I wrote a pitch and put it out for the world to read, including my father, who has also read a draft of STOLEN CLIMATES. My father is a brilliant writer. I grew up hearing the quote, “If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.” When he read my pitch, my father suggested that I be a bit more pithy and capture the essence of STOLEN CLIMATES in five sentences. I agreed with his reasoning, and then panicked.

Have you ever tried to sum up an entire novel in five sentences? It is much more difficult than it sounds. I think there is a special challenge to summing up a horror novel, as the basic premise of most horror stories is a bit… silly.  My opinion is that just because the premise is absurd, doesn’t mean that there can’t be value and deeper meaning to a work. Yet, summing up my novel in five sentences left even me, the dedicated author, feeling like my book was… silly, even though I know that the story is not at all silly or trite or lacking in depth.  I kept working at it, and came up with five versions of the 5-Sentence Pitch. I’d love it if you’d tell me which one you feel is most effective!

5-Sentence Pitch

Option 1 (As Summer Solstice Nears…) : 

As Summer Solstice nears, a small Texas town prepares for a ritual that will give human form to Mother Nature. They will spill a mother’s blood, invoke a father’s lament, and ensure the continuation of ancient ways. Until then, carnivorous vines are growing out of control, the sacred orchard is dying of blight, and it isn’t safe after dark.  Mother Nature isn’t just a metaphor. She has a name – and a face!

Option 2 (Genny thought her hallucinations…) : 

Genny thought her hallucinations were from lack of sleep. Then her daughter started hearing the trees talking, too. Now they are being hunted by a cult who wants to use them in a deadly ritual. As carnivorous vegetation encroaches on the house where Genny and her daughter are trapped, their only hope of escape is a single ax and an acquaintance with his own set of debilitating issues. Mother Nature isn’t just a metaphor!

Option 3 (Mother Nature isn’t just a metaphor…) :

Mother Nature isn’t just a metaphor.  She has a name and a face. Every generation, the town of Breaker sacrifices a mother and offers her daughter to be the vessel for the powers of Nature. They need a new vessel, but there are no children. Then the Mercer’s arrive with their three year old daughter and not even the people of Breaker are safe from the bloodshed.

Option 4 (Genny and Malcolm Mercer are moving…) :

Genny and Malcolm Mercer are moving to Breaker, Texas. They hope living in a small town will alleviate Genny’s insomnia and the dangerous hallucinations it causes. As they look for a house to buy, the Mercers check into Breaker’s only hotel, eat at the only café, and discover there is only one little girl in the whole town: their daughter, Laney.  The town has noticed Laney, too, because they need a child to use in an ancient ritual to  incarnate the powers of other Nature. As Summer Solstice nears and  carnivorous vines grow out of control,  the Mercers learn that Mother Nature isn’t just a metaphor.

Option 5 (After losing his job…) :

After losing his job and his girlfriend, Prentice decides go West. He ends up in a Texas town where ancient  rituals are carried out to incarnate the powers of Nature.  When he overhears plans to abduct the child of the only other guests in the town motel, Prentice has to choose between the safety of a largely imaginary life he’s dreamed for himself or a dangerous reality. Will Prentice be able to rescue an innocent family? Or will he be subdued by a lack of confidence and a swarm of carnivorous vines?


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18 thoughts on “Publishing Update & The 5-Sentence Pitch

  1. Happy Halloween Hop!

    LOVED this blog! It is SO HARD coming up with the pitch and I find your father’s advice valuable, too! 5 sentences to sum up my book yikes!! Really enjoyed reading all of your 5-sentence pitches, but I voted for “Mother Nature” something about that one really captured my attention.

    Fav scary book: The Shining (still makes me shiver!)
    Fav costume: a witch (what else?)
    Fav horror film: The Fog (yikes :0)


  2. Okay, here is a quickie. Not necessarily a ‘goodie’ LOL

    As the summer solstice nears, Genny Mercer discovers her daughter hears voices and the same ones are talking to her as well. The small town they moved to isn’t the refuge they’d hoped. Not when the residences prepare for a ritual that includes spilling blood and the incarnation of Mother Nature herself.


  3. Have I mentioned lately that I’m -dying- to read your book? Because I totes am.

    I voted for two but I -love- the opening for three So perhaps:

    ‘Mother Nature isn’t just a metaphor. She has a name and a face. Genny thought her hallucinations were from lack of sleep. Then her daughter started hearing the trees talking, too. Now they are being hunted by a cult who wants to use them in a deadly ritual. As carnivorous vegetation encroaches on the house where Genny and her daughter are trapped, their only hope of escape is a single ax and an acquaintance with his own set of debilitating issues.’

    I love the whole idea of Mother Nature not being a metaphor (Brilliant tagline, by the way) and Genny’s plight tugs at the heartstrings -just- enough to make me feel for her while still being engaged with the events and wondering both how all of this came to pass and how it’s going to fix itself.

    And that’s only in six sentences! Wonderful job!


    • Meg, hi!

      I like what your new arrangement of the originals very much. I think you were able to take the highlights from each and combine them in a new and meaningful way. If I end up using a variant of what you propose, is that all right with you?

      I’m glad you want to read my book! That makes me really happy. I wrote it because I wanted to read that story, but realized somewhere around the second revision that I also hoped other people would want to read the story, too.

      I hope you’ve got everything in order for your November writing!


      • Of course it’s okay. Go for gold.

        I think all the best books come from the principle of ‘No one else seems to be writing this so I better get on that’. That way you get to write what you love and also write something completely new. WinWin.

        Haha having things in order. You missed your calling as a comedian, you know that?


      • It’s fun to be the first person in the history of humanity to read a book. Only authors get to do that. Well, authors and whatever mad scientist figures out a way to go back in time and read books before they are written.

        Thanks for graciously donating your 5-sentence pitch comments!! 🙂


  4. Hello fellow hopper!

    So glad I was able to visit your site! 🙂 I am visiting from the Coffin Hop–I am # 63– and happy to take part in this hop also. This Halloween I will be dressing as a swashbuckling pirate. Two of my favorite scary books are The Witching Hour and Let the Right One In. A fave movie is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I love this time of year–we get to indulge in a bit of darkness. Please hop over and visit me if you like at where I am giving coupons to your choice of my books and you can enter and win a NOOK! Thanks and hope to see you there!



  5. Most positively variant four for me. It captures the best of a dark-heart suspense novel with a smidge of hope; make that, all taken together, more hope than darkness.

    AND a Killer ending!

    Trust me: I read the draft.



    • Thanks for letting me know what you think! I love the phrase, “…make that, all taken together, more hope than darkness.” I’m tickled that such a phrase could have anything to do with my novel!


  6. Yes, this is a difficult task. Have you tried putting together your 25 word “TV guide” hook yet? Whew. That’s a challenge.

    I chose #2 because it gives the human element right off. #4 did this also, but it felt wordier (maybe it was just the smaller details of checking into the hotel and eating at the cafe which felt superfluous). However, I liked the additional mention of the orchard and not being safe in #1 if that could be worked in. And I would maybe add “to ensure the continuation of ancient ways” after “deadly ritual” in #2.

    It’s maddening, right? I must have ten various versions of my book like this. I think at some point you just have to pick one and decide to stick with it. Because you’re right in that, ultimately, it’s impossible to get all the nuances in just five sentences.

    Good luck

    Paul D. Dail A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog


    • Paul, hi! Thanks for your comments, especially about what felt superfluous, because I have trouble recognizing what does/doesn’t fit in the short synopsis. I plan on reworking what I have using the suggestions people have made.

      I had a work function last night and didn’t get to read much before bed! If The Imaginings was money, it’d be burning a hole in my pocket. I can’t wait to get in some solid reading time this weekend!


  7. Pingback: She pitches and… scores? « Aniko Carmean


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