Deb Linda Says When it Comes to Pitching, the Right Catcher Makes All the Difference

Thanks to everyone who entered our Query Critique Contest! The contest is now over, but stay tuned each day this week to see who our winners are (remember-we said we were giving away 5 critiques!). Today’s winner is SuzeW! Congratulations, Suze! We’ll get in touch with you soon, but in the interim, get polishing that query!

And now onto pitches:

I grew up in a neighborhood where (and when) kids used to play outside a lot. We didn’t have internet access (or, come to think of it, the Internet), video games, or cable TV, so there wasn’t much to keep us indoors. Well, except for books, but even I couldn’t read all the time.

 Which explains how a completely un-athletic person such as moi occasionally got pulled into an impromptu game of baseball. Depending on how inept my teammates were, I was even expected to pitch now and then.

And that’s how I learned that half the battle is making sure you’re pitching to the right catcher. That the catcher wants to catch what you’re throwing. You know what happens if you throw a curve ball to a catcher who prefers fast balls? They miss, and then blame it on you.

Therein lies today’s writing analogy. You can have the best pitch in the world for your novel, but if the agent you’re trying to sell the idea to doesn’t represent your genre … well, s/he’ll likely take a pass, and blame you for not knowing better.

Moral of the analogy: Do some research before you scatter-shoot your query everywhere in the publishing universe.

Some good places to start are and Tons of good info there, and they’re searchable by genre (among other parameters). Plus, they are super easy to navigate.

(Yes, I know it’s sometimes tough to figure out exactly what genre you’re writing. A lot of writers cross genres, or even mix up several into a kind of genre stew. You may write cozy steampunk mysteries, for instance, or dystopian slipstream historicals, or perhaps camel-centric literary humor. Whatever. Just try to figure out what your manuscript mostly is before you go looking for a home for it.)

Also, search engines are your friend. If you, say, meet an agent at a conference, or just love the way they tweet it up in the Twitterverse, Google them before you approach. That way you won’t wear out your pitching arm on catchers who have their eyes set elsewhere.

Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion agents like it if you’re diligent enough to do the groundwork before you leap into the game. It makes them think you’ll be a good client to work with, should they decide to offer.

So, if you’re a writer, what genre(s) do you write?

If you’re a reader (and, really, why else would you be here?), what genre(s) do you prefer to read?

P.S. If you’d like some specifics on how to come up with a good pitch, let me refer you to my fellow Debs’ posts this week–they all did an excellent job, and you won’t go wrong heeding their advice. But, like I said, once you have that perfect pitch … throw it to the right catcher.

25 Replies to “Deb Linda Says When it Comes to Pitching, the Right Catcher Makes All the Difference”

  1. Oh, catchers…I don’t know what it is about catchers but, not unlike drummers, I always dug catchers. I mean, Mike Piazza, people! Gary Carter! But I digress…er, actually, I think YOU digressed FIRST, Deb Linda. (That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it 😉 )

    This is SUCH good advice, Linda! It’s so true that you can lose sight of a good pitch if it’s not delivered to the right catcher. Don’t make the task harder than it is already is by sending your pitch into the wind like a dandelion seed and hope it lands somewhere and grows. Taking the time to research your agents-to-query list helps EVERYONE make the process the most productive (and rewarding!) it can be, without a doubt.

    1. LOL! A wise pitcher knows it’s a good catcher that makes him/her look good. 😉

      And, yeah, a little prep work can make the whole job a lot less bumpy.

  2. Good advice, indeed, Linda. I think a lot of beginners don’t realize they really need someone who is passionate not just about writing in general, but the specific kind of book they write. Why would you pitch your hard-core thriller to someone who only reps picture books for kids? Be professional in all aspects of this business and that includes putting in the time to make sure your pitch is getting to the right people.

      1. Exactly true. I think the advance of email has contributed to this mass-mailing mentality. Back in the days of snail-mail queries, when you were looking at the cost of stamps and envelopes, it behooved you–purely on a financial level–to make sure your query was going to an agent who would not only read it, but consider it.

        1. You’re right–email is the real culprit here. It’s way too cheap and easy to shoot off an email to everybody and her sister. Now, normally I’m a fan of cheap and easy *grin*, but in this case I think it would be wise to put a little more thought into it.

        2. You’re right, Erika – e-mail has totally been a game-changer and I see why some agents really hold onto the ‘snail-mail only’ sub rule. Makes sense when you consider it probably weeds out a lot of not-well-researched queries.

  3. That’s so true and some editors/agents prefer quirky and some don’t get that. If a book has a similar feel to my writing then I always look at the acknowlegment section and see who the editor or agent is and I make a note. 🙂

    I only write romance. I like to read it too, but sometimes I can get on a crazy YA kick.

  4. It can be hard to give one name to what you write unless it very easily and obviously fits into one category. I write YA, but in many forms. Most of it is romantic suspense, some horror, and I have one going with a touch of paranormal. Lots of different spices in the cabinet makes it fun! PS:I was a catcher for my softball team and then I got boobs…didn’t want to play so much after that;)

  5. I write a story stew of crime fiction, mystery, suspense, and romance with a strong female protagonist. Sometimes there may also be a touch of paranormal. Or not.

    And I read anything and everything.

    Call me eclectic.

  6. Sound advice, Deb Linda. I’ve had my nose buried in my wip this week so I need to play catch up with the other Debs posts about pitches.
    I read and write romance novels.
    Thanks for the two links. I’ll make good use of them.

  7. Let me just say, the baseball analogy is brilliant. Really, I’m a little jealous I didn’t think of it first. But I GUESS you’ve been doing this longer than me. 🙂

    As for genres, *sigh* I’m all over the board. I’ve written historical, sci-fi, young adult, and dystopian. Also, I would need an agent who is incredibly patient and able to deal with my scatterbrained tendencies. (I like to tell myself it makes me cute and adorable.)

    And reading? I’ll read anything. Seriously, there isn’t one genre I stick to. I shy away from romance and heavy sci-fi and mystery, but then writer friends coax me into reading said genres. THERE IS NO GOOD ANSWER HERE, LINDA.


  8. What a perfect analogy! And just like good catchers, most agents send hand signals to their pitchers, so if we’re paying attention, we have a much better chance of putting our pitches right into the mitt’s sweet spot. We have to make sure we’re throwing a game-worthy ball, though, and not just a ball of unraveling yarn.

    I read a lot of different genres, but haven’t gotten into the whole zombie-werewolf-vampire craze. My writing is women’s literature goulash.

    1. Very true about those hand signals, Susan. Paying attention is key!

      Women’s literature goulash sounds like a tasty treat to me. 🙂

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