Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Pitch Your Book to a Publisher

I work with authors every day. I've heard it all about the writing process. I've also been pitched hundreds of times. I find some of the common mistakes authors make pretty entertaining (at times). I thought for the sake of teaching you something and doing it with a smile, I would share those mishaps. Please don't do the following when you pitch either an agent or publisher:

"Chapter 1 sucks, but keep reading it gets better." Have you ever heard the cliché, "Put your best foot forward"? It's unwise to tell a busy publisher or agent that your first chapter is terrible. Why would you submit your worst work? When someone tells me to read the whole book, which is 500-pages long, to get to the good part, I laugh. Do you know how much work 3L Publishing has going? I barely have enough hours in the day to eat lunch let alone get past your terrible chapter 1 to (and I quote), "Get to the good part," which I am willing to wager probably isn't as good as you're saying.

"What's your book about?" "I don't know." I am not joking. I have heard this more than once. What do you mean you don't know? How can you not know what your book is about? Better yet, how can you call 3L Publishing unprepared and give that ridiculous answer? If you really don't know what your book is about, how am I supposed to? You cannot pitch a book like that -- even it's not true and you do know. You look absolutely silly. If you get nervous pitching, write down 50-100 words what your book is about so you're prepared with the right answer.

"I'm sorry, I can't spell." If you're coming to 3L for editing services, this answer is justifiable. If you're submitting a completed work that is littered with mistakes, your book will look terrible (and be distracting to read). You should at the very least before you approach an agent or publisher, make sure your manuscript is fundamentally edited even if it's not perfect. A handful of small errors won't send me to the fireplace to burn your book, but a book that looks like you're completely illiterate, will definitely land the book in the rejection pile.

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