Pitching Novels to Publishers: Spectacular Spectacular

Now, maybe it’s just me, but I was watching this the other day thinking, “This pretty much sums up what a novel synopsis / pitch to a publisher should be like.”


Let’s break this manic performance down.

First, there’s the “hook” in the opening (indescribable wonderment), which is then supported by a list of specific proof of what that general ‘wonderment’ entails (elephants, bohemians, Indians, courtesans, acrobats, electric lights, machinery, romance and so on — all of which, for the story’s period, is Exciting!)

This introduction is followed by a brief, Exciting recap of what the book’s main concepts are (the chorus, presented in a way that is So Exciting, you apparently want to jump up and down on an imaginary pogo stick.)

Several times throughout the pitch, the editor / audience is acknowledged (spun around on a chair, allowed to sing in an awful way, etc) — in other words, showing that the writer knows what market they’re targeting. And, sure, the editor might have questions, and sure, s/he might ask them in a language that is different from yours, but you’ll learn the jargon eventually. But no matter what language they’re speaking, you have to be able to provide the story’s major plot points, and be prepared to provide the ending as well (which is what the dubbed-over Richard Roxburgh keeps asking about.)

So that is exactly what they do: they enact the storyline (the courtesan and sitar man are pulled apart by an evil plan, but in the end she hears his song and their love is just too strong, etc etc etc)

And in conclusion, this is what the book is about (So Exciting!) this is what it looks like (tableau of characters) and Ta-Da! The concept is So Exciting, we’ll sell heaps of books!

Like I said, maybe it’s just me.



  1. So exciting, the audience will stop and cheer, so inviting, it will play for fifty years 🙂

    Love that scene. Love that movie. And you’re right – you need to work out the exciting elements of your story and get it out as clearly as possible.

    Although – it would be rather cool if we could pitch our novels as song and dance numbers…

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