Friday, August 19, 2016

How to Pitch Your Book

So, I always try to avoid reading stuff about 3L Publishing ( on Google searches. Every once in a while I will do a check-up, and ran across this scathing little chat about my company. While I do think all press is good press, this article and the source of it irritated me. It's always that one writer who thinks he or she knows it all, but his/her resume demonstrates they are fresh off the writing boat. Ignorance is not bliss when someone is acting like a subject matter expert and (excuse my roughness here) talking out their behinds ... LOL ... that made me laugh. It's good to be the CEO and not be censored when you want to call a spade a spade. If I were working a corporate job never in a million years could I say what I think needs to be said. It would be (a-hem) sanitized.
I'm going to start with some of the mythology this woman is spreading. The point is not to give her message momentum, but to answer the question. If one person thinks this way then it's my job as the experienced publisher to dispel the myths. Here we go:
I don't need a log-line to pitch my book to a publisher. It was funny because when this woman made that suggestion and then later left the meeting, the rest of the writers sat in bemused amazement over her assertion. She was stubborn in her assertion, too. So readers, yes you DO need a log-line. Want to call it a brief summary? Okay, we can call a log-line a "brief summary" if that clarifies anything for you. Here is what a publisher DOESN'T want to hear when you pitch:
Q: What is your book about?
A: I don't know.
Okay, now you're probably at least smiling about that one. I swear on my kids I've heard that answer. In my case, I'm patient and I'll sit through a phone call or pitch and try to help the writer who gave me that answer. In the bigger publishing business if you're lucky enough to get an agent or even a publisher on the line and that's your answer ... well ... let's just say a "disconnect" noise might be heard on your phone - that or a blank stare and a firm "next".
What I commonly hear when I ask writers to tell me about their books is a lot of stumbling and thinking aloud.
Tip: You don't need to tell me your entire story. I just need in 15 to 30 words a brief summation of your book.
Example: My next novel The Abused is about nine addicts who go to rehab only to have one of them start killing the others.
As you can see, it's brief and to the point and tells the listener exactly what the book is about. Did you know that a great tagline could get your book requested immediately? Yes! I've discovered that I know I have a hot property when I can come up with a succinct and intriguing log-line. When I give The Abused pitch, people's eyes light up. The interest is immediately high.
What happens when you give a "limp noodle" tagline pitch? As my life partner Chris says, "Wah, wah, wah." I love it when he says it that way. A weak pitch leads to weak results or more like no results. What happens when a writer gives a weak pitch? I usually watch the writer stumble and try to next tell me the WHOLE story to make up for the bad pitch.
In a successful pitching style it goes like this:
Pitch: Nine addicts go to rehab and one of them starts murdering the others.
Audience: Wow! That's interesting. Tell me a little more...
The "tell-me-more" part is when you have an expanded opportunity to share more about your book. Yet you still don't want to give a 30-minute dissertation on your book's entire story. When you get to Part B: Tell me more, be prepared with your 30- to 50-word summation. You don't need to tell the publisher or prospective reader the ENTIRE book down to each character - that's overkill.
If you've got them on the hook don't blow it by telling them too much and losing their interest.
Whenever writers start giving me the blow-by-blow accounting of the story and characters I find my mind wandering off. Unless it downright scintillating, which nine times out of 10, it's not I've gone from "Wow! That's great!" to "Ho-hum! What's for dinner?"
Keep it simple. Create intrigue. Make them say, "No wait! I don't want to hear anymore. I want to read the book."
When you've gotten a publisher or even a reader (because you will be pitching readers to buy your book) to the trigger point, that's enough. You've gone far enough. Overkill means exactly what it sounds like - you've "killed" your audience's interest.
FYI, the 30-second elevator pitch is how you pitch business in general. If you know how to create an elevator pitch then use that knowledge for your own book. I get asked all of the time how to write a great log-line. If you've written a book I'm assuming you're a pretty creative person. So ... get creative.

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