Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How a Book Pitch Changes with Each Revision

How do you take a pitch for your book and revise it until it shines? Hard work and input from others! Today, I'd like to share how everyone else's input helped me arrive at the final version. Here's how the pitch for Kaleidoscope Eyes, a nonfiction picture book biography about how David Brewster invented the kaleidoscope, evolved from one version to the next. And this isn't even all the different versions. This book is currently being submitted to AGENTS.

One of the earlier versions:

For David Brewster, growing up in Scotland before the turn of the 18th century, he asks questions. Lots of questions. He makes sundials, microscopes, and telescopes. He prefers to study light, lenses, and stars, not hunting and sports. While studying light and minerals, he observes a symmetrical pattern and sets out to recreate it. Through a series of repeated experiments, and asking lots of questions, he creates the beauty of symmetry once more, making it perfectly symmetrical, full of bright colors, and easy to show others – all inside a single cylindrical tube.

Comments: Too long. "Lots of questions" is repeated too much. Plus, it's too telling. What are the questions?

First revision:


David Brewster loves science, but when he notices how agate makes light bend, he must discover why. Can he recreate it? Can he improve it? Can he create symmetry? Through a series of repeated experiments, and asking lots of questions, he dreams of sharing his scientific discovery with the world.

Comments: Might be too short. Can you show us how he loves science? Does he really dream of sharing his discovery with the world? What is his discovery? Maybe mention it in the beginning.

Second revision:

David Brewster becomes famous when he invents the kaleidoscope. But that was never his goal. During an experiment with rocks and minerals, he notices light bending. Splendid! Can he recreate it? Can he improve it? Can he create symmetry? Can he use liquid? Can he make it move? So many questions! But David never gives up. His love for science propels him forward to each new question until he names the scientific marvel…the kaleidoscope.

Comments: Don't tell us what he creates in the very beginning. Keep it a mystery. There are too many questions listed. Limit it to three. In the last sentence, change "to" to "through."

Third revision:

David Brewster never meant to become famous. But that's what happened when he followed his passion for science. One day, he notices how light bends. Splendid! Can he improve it, create symmetry, or even make it move? So many questions! But David never gives up. His love for science propels him forward through each new question until he names the scientific marvel…the kaleidoscope.

Comments: When and where does this take place? Second sentence is in past tense. Can you show us how he follows his passion for science? 

Final revision:

David Brewster never meant to become famous. But that's what happens in 1816 when he accidentally invents a brand new toy. The journey begins during an experiment with rocks and minerals, when he notices agate bending the light twice. Splendid! But can he improve it? Can he create symmetry, or even make it move? So many questions! But David never gives up. His love for science propels him forward through each new question until he names the scientific marvel…the kaleidoscope.

I felt that the time period was more important than the locale, so I chose to omit that information. By the way, it was in Scotland. Hope you enjoyed a "sneak" peek inside the writing process and that it can help you with crafting your own pitches.

Keep on keepin' on...

5 comments:

  1. I'm glad you are like David and never give up! I like the final version. Good luck with your submissions.

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  2. Loved seeing how your pitch evolved to the final version - all the suggestions were useful and the end result is great - good luck!

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  3. Thanks, ladies. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the process...and the final version.

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  4. I really enjoyed seeing the process. I think the final version was spot on!

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