Monday, November 14, 2011

Pitch Writing Tips from the Pros

Last Thursday, my local Indie, Porter Square Books, hosted The Book Doctors and the touring PItchapalooza. The gist of a Pitchapalooza is you get one minute to pitch your book to The Book Doctors and then they will give  you feedback. Awesome, right? You also have to buy their book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published for a chance to pitch,* and you weren’t guaranteed actual pitch time, but regardless you did walk away with a free 20-minute phone consultation with them.
  • While not everyone will have a chance to attend one of these, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the tips I heard on crafting your pitch.
  • Take your time crafting it. It took The Book Doctors six months to craft their one-minute pitch for their book.
  • At the end of the pitch, there should be a feeling of “what happens next.”
  • Comp titles. If it’s not clear where on the shelves your book belongs, you have to include some comps, but you don’t need to pull just from other books in your genre. You can pull from movies, TV, or books in a different genre, as long as it makes sense.
  • Show, show, show. If you’re writing a humorous story, show the humor, don’t just say it’s funny. Show in the pitch your writing chops and the voice of the book as well.
  • Include some description for your main character (no more than 4 words) so we know who they really are and fall in love with them.
  • The goal is to tell a story in a minute, so it is important to include an almost complete story arc: beginning, middle, climax, and cliffhanger.
  • If you are dealing with a tired trend like werewolves, vampires, and dystopian societies, it is super important that you show your spin on it so we know what makes your story stand out among the rest.

What are some important tips you've learned from pitching?

* At least that is how it worked at Porter Square Books.
_______ hit of the day: Endless Sacrifice by Dream Theater


  1. Great stuff! Esp about putting the book's voice into the pitch. That's true for queries too.

    Now, I know things are changing, but I'm still leary about comping a book to TV and movies...I think some agents might still be put off by that. I'd at least have a book AND a TV/Movie comp combined to show you know your genre.

  2. Excellent tips! I hate pitching - I practice my pitch SO MANY times and still get all tongue-tied and feel like I sound stupid. Much better with query writing.

  3. Fantastic tips, Alicia! I like to write my pitch before I start the manuscript. That gives me PLENTY of time to toy with it, and it helps me to really zone in on my idea and main characters. Love the show, show, show as well. :)


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