Pitching in the Publishing Industry (Part3)

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Pitching the publishing industry is like offering a taste of perfectly chilled spring water to the publisher or agent most suited to selling your book. You proffer your book’s essence so that whoever drinks of it is sure to want more.

When authors offer their book, they generally don’t use the term “pitch.” They say “shopping a book.” Many are averse to the term “sales.” In reality, they are pitching, and their efforts will be more effective if they admit they are . . .  mmmm . . . selling.

Even if authors don’t know or won’t confess to what they are doing, most already have experience as pitch writers. That’s because they have been writing query letters, a basic skill we discuss in Chapter Fourteen. Some of you have already used pitches to get an agent, to get published, to get reviews. You may have embedded pitches into media releases and book proposals.

A book proposal is, in fact, a very long pitch. Some fiction writers need to know how to write them but proposal writing is essential for writers of nonfiction. Learn more about when to write a proposal and how to write one with my booklet The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything you need to know to sell your book in 20 minutes or less (budurl.com/BookProposals).

Pitching your readers is like sending them a love letter. It may be commercially packaged, but it must be delivered with passion for your book and the needs of your reader.

Early on you pitch readers in writing; later you’ll pitch both friends and strangers verbally. In an elevator or a restaurant, at a book signing, and when you’re being interviewed by an editor or radio or TV host.

When a reader (anyone really) says, “What is your book about?” you need to tell her quickly (in the time it takes her to get to her floor in an elevator) why she will benefit from reading your book or give her a synopsis of your fiction that will make her want to read it.

When you see a tease like this on a movie poster, they call it a logline but it’s also a mini pitch. It goes something like this: “When  . . . (fill in the blanks here), then . . . (fill in the blanks here).” Here’s an example:

“When an earthquake rocks Carrie’s world, she faces the consequences with a pickax, stored water, and the talents of her two young sons.”

Notice that a good pitch or logline for fiction focuses on conflict just as all great fiction does. Nonfiction authors can find conflict in their books, too.

Stop back on December 22nd, for Part 4, the final part, of this Pitch series.

Excerpted from the multi award-winning Frugal Book Promoter, http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo 

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program
Author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books including the second edition honored by USA BOOK NEWS
Web site: http://www.HowToDoItFrugally.com


Karen Cioffi said...

Carolyn, great explanation of what pitching a book is all about. It's so true that as writers we're always pitching. Great example of a logline also!

Along with possible conflict in nonfiction, you can also draw on the emotional element to pitch your nonfiction book.

Thanks for this wonderful pitch series. I look forward to part four.

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carolyn,
Thanks for sharing your wonderful explanations and samples of pitch. You are a jewel. You always amaze me.

Magdalena Ball said...

I love this series - solid, substantial information broken into bite sized chunks. Thank you!

Melinda Brasher said...

Do agents and publishers ever get tired of the "When [this happens], [Character] must [do something?]" logline? I like it because it tends to get to the heart of the story, but I bet they hear it a lot.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Interesting perspective on the importance of a pitch. Love this series.

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