Novel Pitching - First the Windup

Describing an entire book in a sentence isn't easy, and I've never been good at summarizing. When folks ask what my book is about, I'm always tempted to respond, "You'll find out when it's published." I figure by then I'll have a blurb ready to share. But honestly, my readers deserve a real answer, and what better way to pique interest ahead of time than with a well-crafted pitch?

So, I've started composing a few one-liners for some of my novels. They're not perfect by any stretch, but they'll at least give you a peek at what I've been working on between all the short stories.

My space opera parody Captain Bartholomew Quasar and the Space-Time Displacement Conundrum (80,000 words) is forthcoming from Every Day Novels:

A starship captain determined to rewrite his own history instead finds himself dislocated out of time, reencountering perils from the past as well as unpredictable dangers in his future.

My comedy Westward, Tally Ho! (65,000 words) is currently making the rounds among various agents:

A young Victorian Englishman disenchanted with life joins his aging butler on a madcap adventure in search of the old man's long-lost daughter in the wild American West.

My YA thriller Those Who Wait (100,000 words) is also out on the query circuit:

High school graduate Jillian Thompson injures herself jogging through the woods and must fight for her life when captured by a reclusive man convinced she's his God-given wife.

Instead of querying agents, I'm subbing Madame Antic's Hotel Grotesque (60,000 words) directly to small presses:

A factory worker hoping to improve his station instead finds himself trapped in a nightmare of mistaken identity, body modification, and clashing realities as he struggles to reclaim his life.

Do you enjoy reducing your epic adventures into pithy one-liners? What would you say are the key ingredients to a great pitch?
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