Writing and Book Marketing – Crafting a Pitch (Part2)

Wow, the members of Writers on the Move who participated in our first December Innovative and Proven Writing and Marketing Strategies Week should get a round of applause – I certainly applaud and thank them. They really did out-do themselves with useful fresh information to help us on our book writing and marketing journey.

Today, we end this special week with Part 2 of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Pitch series

Crafting a Pitch (Part 2)

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Crafting a pitch may be easier if you reread your book to find possibilities for pitches within it. As you read:

1. Identify the aspects of your book that will most interest a reader in a given market or at a given time.

2. Write them down.

3. Turn these features into statements that show how readers or audiences will benefit.

4. Here’s an example of one I might use for this book: “The Frugal Book Promoter is a super coach for your book’s marketing campaign.” On the back cover of my book Your Blog, Your Business: A retailer’s guide to garnering customer loyalty and sales online and in-store (budurl.com/Blogging4Retailers), I tease future readers with practical ways to:

o   Build a blog in five easy steps.
o   Minimize the time it takes to run a blog.
o   Find material to blog about.
o   Integrate your blog with other social networks.
o   Manage a blog frugally or free.

5. A frequently-used fiction example is: “This book keeps readers turning pages late into the night.” I’m sure you can do better than this because you have the details of your plot stowed in your head. Working with and learning from the screenwriters’ loglines we discuss later in this chapter will help you with this project.

You can find possibilities in your book of fiction. My first novel, This Is the Place, is one of the most difficult genres to promote. I thought of it as a literary novel but found that it also fit into little bitty categories: a little bit historical, a little bit saga, a little bit romance, a little bit feminist, a little bit women’s, a little bit western. I also found that, by virtue of my age, there were lots of aspects of my past life and former careers that interested editors and could be worked into pitches for feature articles.

To avoid missing the obvious pitch for your book, set up a brainstorming session with three or more who have read it. Assure them no idea is too silly. No idea will be booed. Nothing is to be repressed. You may be surprised at how many angles come from such a group effort.

Because we are so immersed in our own writing we don’t see it clearly, writing a pitch for someone else’s book is easier than writing one for our own. Practice writing pitches for books you’ve read and movies you’ve seen.

Once you have an idea for a pitch, add a little cayenne.

  • Boil down your plot or nonfiction premise into three sentences or less.
  • Maintain the passion you feel for your story.
  • Use present tense. “Is” instead of “was.”
  • Use punchy, specific verbs. “Lobs” instead of “throws.”
  • Avoid adjectives and adverbs. (If your verbs are strong enough, you probably won’t need them!) Find more on getting rid of unhelpful adverbs and adjectives (and turning them into metaphorical gold!) when you read my The Frugal Editor (budurl.com/TheFrugalEditor).

To learn more about writing pitches in all its forms, take a lesson from screenwriters:

  • Join a screenwriters’ forum. Throw out the topic of loglines (very short, catchy plot synopses) and watch members of the group go to town. Offer up one of your own and let them tear it apart and rebuild a thing of beauty. Search for these groups at YahooGroups.com and GoogleGroups.com. With any such group it is only right for you to contribute as well as learn from others.
  • Study Jonathan Treisman’s article at writersstore.com/article.php?articles_id=231. He is President of Flatiron Films and produced Warner Brothers’ film Pay It Forward.

Hint: The screenwriter’s craft is a fertile ground for learning both marketing and writing skills that may be adapted to any kind of writing, from poetry to science fiction.

Now you have a picture-perfect pitch or two, find a place for one or more of them:

  • In your media releases.
  • In your fliers.
  • On your business cards and other stationery.
  • On your posters—the ones you use for events like fairs and book signings.
  • In taglines and credits.
  • In your e-mail signature.
  • On the back cover of your book.
  • In your advertisements.

Stockpile your pitches in a special file in your computer so you can pick, choose, and perfect them as needed.

Now you can write pitches, let’s put them to work. Pitch an agent or publisher. Pitch the media. Pitch that all-important group we call readers.

Note: Your pitches to the media are indirect pitches to your readers. Their audiences will be the folks who read your book.

Stop by on December 17th, for Part 3 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


Magdalena Ball said...

Great pitch tips from a master of the form. I like the idea of adding a little cayenne. What a wonderful blog series this has been.

Karen Cioffi said...

Carolyn, thanks for sharing your vast experience and knowledge. I hadn't thought of having others add their ideas on creating a logline for your book, or for that matter, your services and business.

And, thanks for the link to Jonathan Treisman’s article. It's got lots of useful tips.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Such a lot of information and so helpful in clarifying how to improve our pitches. Thank you, Carolyn, for sharing so much of your marketing knowledge and experience.

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks for the idea of stockpiling the pitches so you can reuse them. I struggle to get them right every time! Why didn't I think to keep them!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carolyn,
Thank you for sharing your expertise on writing a good pitch. It's a great idea to ask screenwriters to help. They work with creating great short pitches (loglines) regularly. They can lighten our load and help us learn this necessary skill.

Celebrate you.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

You are all sweet to drop by. I think the marketing week has been a success. I've noticed a high rate of retweets on my tweets. (-:

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

It's an interesting idea to join the screenwriter's forum to learn about loglines. Working on a logline is one way to learn to develop an elevator pitch.

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