Thursday, February 24, 2011

Anatomy of a Winning Pitch

First of all, forgive me the incredibly pompous title of this post. I just thought it was rather eye-catching and would make you want to read it. ;-)- So the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, Round 1 ("the Pitch") results are in ... and I didn't have the courage to look at the list myself. For the past week, I have been rolling the odds of moving on to Round 2 over and over in my head ... 20% seems like a very small number. When I sat for the Bar exam several years ago, there was something like a 77% passage rate. That's a nice, safe number!

Back to the ABNA contest ... one of my best friends knew how much this contest meant to me, so he (sneakily) checked the results and informed me that I had nothing to worry about! Hurray ... onward to Round 2! (Mind you, my only goal was to make it this far - anything else would be icing on the cake.)

I thought it might be beneficial to post my pitch here. Believe it or not, this endeavor is not just some ego trip. When I was writing the pitch, I googled "winning Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award pitches," hoping past winners had posted their work, and was shocked to only find one such post. It became clear to me right off the bat why this guy had advanced, and I found his pitch extremely helpful when crafting my own. So, in the spirit of public service, here goes:

Ambition, lust and madness threaten to tear apart the lives of three young adults bent on conquering New York City at the height of the Jazz Age. Hedonistic Manhattan pits beautiful, self-serving Lila Payton against her best friend - brainy, virtuous Rosemarie Dauber - in pursuit of Marcus Torrington, a handsome high-society attorney. This tenuous triangle is stretched to its limit when they encounter powerful politico Clayton Starwell. Lila, Marcus and Rosemarie are each forced to confront their most closely-guarded secrets: for Lila, it’s her romantic obsession with Clayton; for Marcus, it’s his inner demons stemming from a past tragedy; and for Rosemarie, it’s the moral tug-of-war between her upbringing and her desires.

SANCTUARY OF FOOLS, a 97,000-word historical novel told through the interwoven narratives of three magnetic, true-to-life characters, spotlights one of the most electrifying eras in American history. Written in an urbane-yet-accessible style, SANCTUARY OF FOOLS propels its readers on a dark and enthralling journey that begins with an explosion on Wall Street and ends with a murder-suicide in Midtown Manhattan. Painstakingly researched, SANCTUARY OF FOOLS caters to the historical fiction connoisseur’s craving for romanticized escapism without sacrificing character richness or historical nuance and accuracy.


  1. Great pitch!Congratulations.

  2. Thanks Joan! You should have seen my old one (that I'd been sending to agents.) Re one of the sentences, my husband asked, "What does that MEAN!?" ;-)