Imaginary Pitch

- by Denise Dietz

This Thursday I fly to Chicago, where I’ll be attending a writers conference called LOVE IS MURDER.  I’m scheduled for an editor/agent panel, plus a couple of author panels.

And I’ll be talking to writers who are looking for a publisher.

Therefore, I thought it might be fun to blog an imaginary pitch session:

DENI (making my pitch): In a tribute to Agatha Christie and the Beatles, the protagonist of my novel, GOTTA SING OR DIE, is an alien from another planet who assumes the face and body of a twenty-year-old and tries out for American Idol. Jaya San makes the top 12 with her original renditions of “I Wanna Borrow Your Hand” and “We All Live in a Yellow Spaceship.” A finalist is murdered, then another. Jaya doesn’t want to win the competition by default, so she sets out to find the killer…before she, too, gets eliminated. Think: STARMAN meets THE TERMINATOR meets COCOON meets Simon Cowell.

AGENT: What’s the genre?

DENI: Genre? I guess you’d call it a “fantasy-mystery.”

AGENT: You can’t have two genres. Choose one.

DENI: How about a mystery with fantasy elements? Or a fantasy with mystery elements?

AGENT: We’ll keep it simple and call it a mystery, okay? Now, let’s talk about the future because that’s more important  than your book. So . . . where do you see yourself in 10 years?

DENI: I see myself writing a Jaya Say series, 26 books, with titles like GOTTA DANCE OR DIE and AMERICA’S TOP ALIEN. I see myself signing a movie option with Spielberg and appearing on Oprah and Ellen. I see mysel—

AGENT: How will you promote your series?

DENI (taken aback): Promote?

AGENT: Yes, promote. That’s the first question editors ask.

DENI: Oh. Well, alrighty then. My website, of course. Posting on the DorothyL list every day (3000 members), maybe twice a day. MySpace. Facebook. A movie trailer on YouTube. A 52-state tour. A European tour with Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Marshall Karp. Conferences like Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, NINC and Westercon. Conventions like ABA. The usual.

AGENT (looking at wristwatch): Our time is up. Why don’t you send me 3 chapters and a synopsis?

Tick-tock, tick-tock . . . 3 months later:

Dear Mr. Deitz,
Thank you for submitting GOTTA DANCE. While I like the tie-in to that song from “Singing In The Rain”, I’m afraid I’m not enthusiastic enough to work with your book. I did, however, put out a few feelers but Berkley already has a series starring an alien with a green card that tries out for Jeopardy.

Tick-tock, tick-tock . . . 18 months later:

Publishers Weekly starred review: “A fresh, imaginative concept.”

Library Journal: “Recommended for readers who are looking for a good mystery with supernatural elements. Denise Dietz lives in B.C.”

Kirkus: “…Gotta Sing or Die makes you want to sing and…”

Romantic Times:  ****1/2. The steamy romance in GOTTA SING OR DIE left this reviewer breathless.”

Harriet Klausner: “Readers will appreciate the part where Jayne Sands assumes her alien shape and Paula Abdul doesn’t notice the difference.”

DorothyL: I finished GOTTA SING OR DIE last night, and while I liked the book I skipped the sex scenes, so my question is, are sex scenes really necessary in a mystery?

DorothyL response: We discussed sex in mysteries 6 weeks ago, and 2 months before that. Check the archives.

2nd DorothyL response: I don’t like mysteries with sex or cussing or dead cats because they can’t protect themselves like humans can.

See y’all next month. Warning: I’ll probably blog with a Chicago accent :-)


  1. Deni, That was a laugh and a half. The 3 DL posts at the end are out-loud-funny (I refuse to contribute to the glut of lols in cyberspace) and scary-real. You’re like Robert B. Parker on estrogen.

    LOL at Love is Murder (that one is okay because it means Lots Of Luck).

  2. Thanks for posting, Marshall. I’ve heard your third book – FLIPPING OUT – will hit the shelves this April. I adored The Rabbit Factory and Blood Thirsty, so I’ll be first in line to buy Flipping Out. I’m sure I’ll start LOL-ing (and that *is* Laugh Out Loud-ing) from page one.

  3. Denise,

    Thanks for making me smile. Every once in a while we writers have to remember not to take ourselves too seriously.

    All the Best,

    Jacqueline Seewald
    THE INFERNO COLLECTION, Five Star hardcover, Wheeler large print
    THE DROWNING POOL, coming in February from Five Star

  4. Jacqueline, thanks for your comment. I haven’t “taken myself too seriously” since my first published book, when my Walker editor suggested I second-mortgage my house and go on the road, my car’s trunk filled with books. At the time, my PR consisted of handing out bookmarks – with the dinner tab – while waiting tables at The Olive Garden.

  5. Thanks! I needed the smile I got from reading your post.

  6. And I smile – with pleasue – every time I read your comments, Estella. Thank you so much.

  7. Not that I’m behind reading my mail or anything, Deni, but I just found the link to this pitch and came over to take a peek. Am leaving now, still giggling…Pat

  8. Thanks for the grin! I’m attending my first conference, signed up for “pitches” – and hadn’t a clue! I never did take myself seriously, and still haven’t a clue – but plan on having fun anyway! See you there!