Part of my pre-conference homework assignment for the NYC Pitch and Sell conference was to research five book jackets of novels in my genre. The reasoning behind this was to help in the development of my person to person pitch. At first I didn't really see how that would help. The written word can be very different from the spoken word. But they're the experts so I did my homework.
After I wrote the first draft of my person to person pitch I picked five young adult novels off my bookshelf at home and read the jackets. It amazed me how straight to the point they were. Of course they all had a great hook sentence that makes the reader sit up and pay attention. Then they teased on a few of the most interesting points of the book and really made you want to start flipping pages. And, they made me want to throw the first draft of my pitch into the fireplace.
My wonderful critique group, the Scribe Sisters, were lifesavers. They metaphorically rescued my pitch from the flames and walked me through the revisions. Yep, plural. There were many revisions. Then I read a few blog posts by Nathan Bransford, How To Write One Sentence Pitch and One Sentence One Paragraph And Two Paragraph Pitch that helped me hone that pitch down to almost perfect. I say almost because there is always room for improvement! If you are looking to make your query letter better or do a person to person pitch you have to read those two posts! Nathan is brilliant!
Now I have a hook sentence I feel good about and two solid paragraphs that I think convey the heart of my story fairly well. And, I can say it all in one minute!