Today, we welcome Caitlin McDonald from Donald Maass Literary Agency! Caitlin is here to help you write your pitch, and to let you know what she’s looking for! Read below, then reserve your spot to pitch Caitlin at Fall Philly!
LB: Hi Caitlin! Thanks for stopping by! Can you give us your best advice for crafting a strong pitch?
CM: Three things: one, focus on your characters and their goals; two, identify what is unique about your story; and three, have comp titles. These are the quickest ways to establish an emotional connection to your story, set it apart from existing books on the marketplace, and show you know your target audience. The first is especially key: too often people open their pitches by explaining the world’s complicated magic system, or events that happened twenty years prior to the book’s start. That’s all window dressing—we want to know what your book is about, at its heart, and that means characters.
LB: What are you looking for/not looking for right now?
CM: I’m always looking for diverse stories with strong voices, and my focus is on science-fiction, fantasy, or contemporary fiction with a geeky bent. I would love to find the next Tamora Pierce, Francis Hardinge or Franny Billingsly. For fantasy, I’m more interested in politics than quests, and for sci-fi, think less space opera and more near-future colonization. With any story, I want to see an awareness of how it’s informed by contemporary issues, and vice versa—what is your story saying about the world we live in? Lady knights, heists, and found families are always a bonus for me!
LB: Are you open to representing picture book authors and or illustrators?
CM: Sadly, no; I don’t handle anything younger than middle grade.