What’s Your Book About?

What’s Your Book About? I have a post up at PubSmart today. In case you haven’t heard, PubSmart is a new writers’ conference debuting this April in Charleston, SC, with the goal of bringing together self publishing, traditional, small press and hybrid. PubSmart is about introducing new models that lead to smart decisions about how to seize opportunities in today’s transformed book marketplace. I’m thrilled to be on the faculty of this terrific new conference! Keynote speakers are Hugh Howey and Jane Friedman, and the faculty includes heavy hitters from all walks of today’s expanded publishing world.Learn more on the PubSmartCon website.   Here’s a preview of my post:   What’s Your Book About?   Everyone attends conference for their own reasons—to learn,...
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Pitching Your Projects

Pitching Your Projects I’ve posted on this topic numerous times, but since I’m going to a conference this week and will be hearing dozens of pitches, I wanted to go over (once again) some tips for pitching to agents and editors. We can probably all agree on the “don’ts” of pitching your project. Don’t pitch in the bathroom. Don’t pitch a novel that’s nowhere near ready. Don’t pitch with your mouth full. What are some positive tips we can all use? I think the secret to making a great pitch is to start with a bit of context or background, then tell me about your book. It doesn’t have to be in-depth, considering your time restraints. But take a moment to introduce yourself and your project before pitching. Too often, people sit down and nervously launch...
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Secrets of a Great Pitch

http://www.rachellegardner.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Rockies-pitcher-150x150.jpg Next week I’m headed out to the ACFW conference (American Christian Fiction Writers) and I’m sure I’ll see some of you there! Rachel’s post yesterday on the Books & Such blog gave some great advice about talking to agents and editors at conferences: It’s Not All About the Pitch. But I know many of you will be pitching, so I wanted to go over some tips. I think the secret to making a great pitch is to start with a bit of context or background, then tell me about your book. It doesn’t have to be in-depth, considering your time restraints. But take a moment to introduce yourself and your project before pitching. Too often, people sit down and nervously launch into some kind of story and I find myself dizzy with confusion. I feel like a deer in the...
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Elevator Pitch Critiques

Elevator Pitch Critiques How about some critiques of those elevator pitches? I’m impressed and amazed at how many of you contributed them in the comments to my post last Wednesday. Obviously I won’t be able to critique most of them, but hopefully you’ll get something out of these few that I’m going to address. A couple things before I start. First, some of you acknowledged that your book is something that I might not represent—that’s fine, and it’s okay to mention that in your conversation. But don’t use it as a reason to avoid pitching—you never know, you could change my mind! If you’re asked what you’re writing, by all means talk about it. Second, length is an issue for some of the pitches. Keep in mind it takes roughly 30 seconds to deliver about 100 words, which is a nice length for an...
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Crafting Your Elevator Pitch

Crafting Your Elevator Pitch I hope you’re learning something from this tutorial on verbal pitches! Today’s the day I’m going to ask for your pitches in the comments so pay attention. One of the keys to pitching that I haven’t mentioned yet is the correct timing of a verbal (or elevator) pitch. When do you give one? The answer is…when you’re invited or when there is an appropriate opening. You don’t want to accost agents and editors and say, “Listen to my pitch!” However, there are many times at conferences when you may be in, say, an elevator, or at a cocktail party, or at dinner, when someone looks you in the eye and says, “So what are you writing?” That’s your opening. Now, another thing we haven’t discussed is the process of crafting...
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Your Verbal Pitch

Your Verbal Pitch 10 Tips for a Winning Elevator Pitch Continuing on our theme of pitching your book… today I’m going to give a few tips on creating a brief verbal pitch for your book. 1. Remember that you are going to be talking to someone. While many of these tips can apply to written pitches, pay attention to the fact that there are differences between verbal and written pitches. There’s a huge difference between the way people speak and the way they write. Many people have trouble with this and I start hearing the “we’re writers, not speakers” bit. Hellooooo, as writers, you need to be able to capture on the page the way people speak. It’s called dialogue. 2. The purpose of your elevator pitch is to get someone to want to hear more. That’s IT. There...
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Pitching Your Novel

Pitching Your Novel Last week we discussed pitching your project to agents and editors at a writers’ conference. Today I wanted to address that a little more. One thing I’ve noticed lately in fiction pitches – verbal pitches or queries – is that some writers want to tell all about the theme or the emotional journey of the story, but they have a hard time conveying the actual story. Every novel has a theme. There’s a character arc, in which a character grows and/or changes over the course of the story. There’s an emotional progression. But that is NOT the story. That is what is illustrated by the story. What’s a story? It’s a plot. It’s scenes with action and dialogue. It’s people going places and doing things and talking to other people. It’s...
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Tell Me the STORY

One thing I’ve noticed lately in fiction pitches – verbal pitches or queries – is that some writers want to tell all about the theme or the emotional journey of the story, but they have a hard time conveying the actual story. Every novel has a theme. There’s a character arc, in which a character grows and/or changes over the course of the story. There’s an emotional progression. But that is NOT the story. That is what is illustrated by the story. What’s a story? It’s a plot. It’s scenes with action and dialogue. It’s people going places and doing things and talking to other people. It’s characters taking action to make something happen, to change their situation, to solve a problem, to avoid danger. Over the weekend as I listened...
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The Elevator Pitch, Third Floor

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SX6UTKvV0QI/AAAAAAAACmw/yIi7A7Edgr0/s320/elevator+3.jpg I hope you’re learning something from this 3-day tutorial on elevator pitches. (I promise, agents and editors will appreciate your efforts!) Today let’s talk about the process of crafting the elevator pitch. I think your best chance for success is to take it seriously as a multi-step process (because I know you have nothing else to do) and put some time into it. The effort will allow you to overcome shyness, discomfort with verbal presentations, and even nervousness around publishing professionals. Preparation always boosts confidence, and if there’s one thing I see writers struggling with, it’s confidence. So how do you prepare? 8 Steps to the Perfect Pitch 1. Write it. Craft your pitch 10 or 20 different ways and different lengths. Don’t skimp on this...
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The Elevator Pitch, Second Floor

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SX1KjUvK-NI/AAAAAAAACmo/5acB2hWNhK8/s320/elevator2.jpg So, how did you do on your self-critiquing? Some of you offered astute rewrites. Way to go! Today I’m going to give you a few more hints about elevator pitches. → Always be prepared. You never know when you’re going to come across someone who will ask, “So what’s your book about?” At conferences, there are mealtimes, hallway chatting times, elevator times, and countless other times when someone might ask you The Question. Or, you might not even be at a conference. You could be like my new friend Tara who was sitting next to me at our kids’ volleyball game. Unbeknownst to both of us, at that very moment I had a query from her in my inbox. She didn’t even know I was an agent. We chatted and finally put it together (“OMG! You’re an agent?...
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The Elevator Pitch, Part 1

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SXyH9FWNEeI/AAAAAAAACmQ/yuYTSPflM9g/s200/elevator.jpg It has come to my attention that I’ve failed you. I asked you to send elevator pitches, without previously teaching you about elevator pitches. Mea culpa, mea culpa. I’ll try to make up for it over the next three days by giving you lots of tips about how to craft a successful pitch. (I won’t be able to critique everyone’s pitch, but you can still learn from the ones I do critique.) I’ll start with some basics. I had a specific reason for setting up Friday’s blog post with “close your eyes and imagine…” I wanted you to grasp the fact that you are going to be talking to someone. I didn’t want your standard written pitch. Which is what many of you offered. There’s a huge difference between the way people speak and the way they...
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Q4U: What’s Your Book About?

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SXic2Pgys4I/AAAAAAAAClI/js3MRG3vk1I/s200/sticky+note+Q4U.bmp Okay guys, work with me here. Close your eyes (AFTER you read this post). Imagine you’re at a writer’s conference, waiting for the elevator up to your hotel room. The agent of your dreams walks up and stands beside you. He/she smiles and says “Hi.” You manage to return a coherent “Hello” in response. “Enjoying the conference?” the agent asks. “Yes, it’s great!” you respond. The elevator doors open and you both step in. The agent presses 15. You press 17 (even though your room is on the 5th floor). Agent looks you squarely in the eye and asks, “So what are you writing?” You now have 15 floors to make an impression. → What will you say? I’ll respond to these next week, so specify in the comments if you...
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