Opinions about a pitch for a fantasy novel?

I've just signed up to authonomy.com and am about to upload the start of my novel. I need two pitches, a short one and a long one. Those of you who read fantasy, would the following make you click through to start reading the story? If not, why not?

Short pitch (has to be no more than 25 words - currently exactly that many):

Bad: one of your new teachers is a murderer. Worse: you’ve got to work out which one. Worst: while trying not to fall in love.

Long pitch (has to be no more than 200 words - currently 92)

Adramal, an apprentice wizard, moves to a new school to complete her training. Several ritual murders have been committed in the city, and the chief investigator suspects the killer is one of Adramal’s new teachers. The teachers have closed ranks, so he persuades Adramal to go undercover for him. Now Adramal has to avoid becoming the next victim - while at the same time resisting her growing attraction to Perinar, the shy, awkward apprentice who’s cataloguing the school’s vast library... whose dusty volumes may yet hold the key to unmasking the killer.

(First suggested category - Sports -> Fantasy Sports. "Pitch" isn't just what you do to a baseball, Mr Yahoo...)


Thanks folks. No consensus, then. Drat... As for why the cops ask some random stranger to help - "the teachers have closed ranks" doesn't explain enough then? In a fantasy setting, many people can be above the law - or at least very difficult to arrest. The cops need more evidence before they can go barging in, and there isn't really such a thing as a search warrant.

Adramal is 17, which would normally be a year or two into adulthood. But teachers tend to treat apprentices as still being children, which the older apprentices tend to resent.

Update 2:

Agreed, the short pitch doesn't give any clue that the book is fantasy. But authonomy allows you to tag your book with the genre and/or intended audience, so that would tell you. And if it was in a bookshop, you'd find it in the sci-fi and fantasy section, not the crime or suspense section.

Update 3:

cathrl69 - I must say I never thought of that when I did the short pitch. It's not that sort of fantasy :-p

It's looking as though the main change I need to make is to the long pitch, to better explain why Adramal is the only one who can investigate.

If you want to read the book, the first three chapters are here: http://www.pembers.net/books.html (PDF)

When I get around to putting it on Authonomy (probably next week sometime), I'll post a question here to give you a chance to comment on it, and update my profile with a link to it.

Update 4:

I should've mentioned - I get to use both the short pitch and the long one - it's not either/or. In some places, the website displays only the short pitch, and in others it displays both. So I could cheat a bit and write the long pitch on the assumption that the reader has already read the short one. But I have enough words left over in the long pitch that I don't need to do that.

Update 5:

Thanks for the heads-up, Ed. I knew my chances were slim anyway - they apparently get between 20 and 40 new manuscripts uploaded every day. I'll be going the traditional route of querying agents as well. I see Authonomy as another bite at the cherry.

14 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    I actively dislike the short one, which gives the strong impression that it's the murdering teacher she's falling in love with. I would not click on that story.

    And I'm afraid with the person who said his instant reaction was "why the heck would they ask some kid to investigate for them?" I can imagine ways to retcon it, but the statement you have here is really, REALLY Mary Sue-ish and comes over as "she gets asked because that's what the plot says". "School" and "training" imply "inexperienced kid", no matter what your legal adulthood age is. I imagine there's a reason for him to ask _her_ in the plot...maybe you can hint at it here? Maybe by saying what she goes undercover as. If it's a maid or cleaner who would have access to their rooms, suddenly having an unthreatening-looking 17 year old do it makes a whole lot more sense.

    Hope that helps.

  • 1 decade ago

    Is there a way that you could use both Steve?

    Your short pitch is good. As many users have pointed out, it reels the reader in. However, I think that you could then get away with then including your longer pitch underneath, as a follow on paragraph. This way, you've drawn the reader in and are immediately following it up with more detailed information.

    Just a thought.

    Edit: Sorry, did not realise, as I am not familiar with authornomy (at present there is no equivalent in Australia) or what is required for the pitch. In retrospect, I probably should have read your question a little more carefully as well. However, when reading your long pitch, I would like more detail about the killings that the character is going to investigate - what kind of ritual, why the police suspect a new teacher, and why Adramal is the logical person to investigate this crime and not another teacher or student. Obviously I do not wish to know everything before I get to read the actual novel, but I think more detail may help remove any suggestions that Adramal is a Mary-sue character.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The short pitch, I like. It really pulled me in. However, (and this may only vex ME because I'm quite the perfectionist) the way you wrote it out seems... awkward. It doesn't flow right in my mind. I'd suggest rewording it, but I'm not sure how well one could do so with only 25 words to work with. I don't know... You don't HAVE to change it, but I recommend at least fixing it up a bit.

    Now the long pitch, I like as well, better than the short, to be exact. Honestly, I can't think of any way to improve it except maybe you could use more adjectives? Often times it grabs a reader more if they know a bit more about the characters, the setting, etc before they actually open the book.

    All in all, I find this very interesting and would like to read your story once it's published. Very good work, my friend. :]

    PS: My very close friend is, in fact, the nephew to Mr. Yahoo. ;]

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Hi Stephen,

    Late comment, I know but do you really want to upload your baby onto Authonomy?

    I came off the site last year when it became apparent that it was a waste of time. Most people on the site are would-be authors intent only on clawing their way up the rankings in order to get a 'professional' critique from the publishers. Very few make it and it takes a lot of time and effort usually to get your baby shot to pieces by the pros.

    It seems a good idea but there is a very large downside. Before you take the decision to join up spend some time reviewing how it works. If it's good for you then fine but you will find you'll have to work awfully hard just to keep pace.

    Good Luck,


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  • 1 decade ago

    I've actually read the first three chapters to The Wizard's Daughter two days ago, and I wanted to email you, which you have blocked, to tell you how much I really enjoyed reading it. There were only a few minor errors, which were only typos. So, I'd like to say, good start to a promising novel. Lemme know when you post more (:

    Now, to answer your question, I love the first pitch much more than the second one--it drew me in, yet was simple. Some people may argue, however, that it is "unprofessional." My problem with the second pitch is that is is sort of boring to read, and you tell us that Perinar is the shy and awkward instead of letting us find out within the narrative.

  • 1 decade ago


    Of course, I'd probably read it just because it's yours (I tend to fangirl people I like), so I may not be the best person to answer this. ;)

    EDIT: Also, I totally get why the cops would ask her to help with the investigation. First of all, "new school" does not necessarily conflate to "new to the city," and she may already have some kind of relationship with the chief investigator. (Maybe you should say so, if she does? You have word count to play with.) Second of all, you haven't indicated her age, but I'm assuming she's not a child. And third, there's nothing like having an undercover agent on the inside that no one will suspect of investigating.

  • ?
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    I honestly liked both pitches, however, the short one made me more curious as to what the story was about. The only downside to the short pitch that I see that that I have no idea that it's a fantasy story. The long one provides me with that. If I were to look at the short one, I would have thought I was picking up a normal modern day murder mystery book.

    But as for the pitch itself, it makes me want to read on. I would very much like to read this story. It's sounds compelling and unique to me.

    Source(s): Me, myself, and I.
  • J
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    I actually like the long pitch, I just like the short pitch better. But I hope that guy isn't the killer, because he's the first one I'd suspect.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think I like the short pitch, actually. It's intriguing without giving away much information, which the long pitch does. (i.e. who she's attracted to)...hope that helps. I really want to read your story! It sounds very interesting :) Will you let us know when it's posted on the website?

  • 1 decade ago

    The short pitch totally reeled me in. The long one...didn't. I don't know if it's just how you worded it, but I liked the short pitch better.

    Source(s): I love fantasy books
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