Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Perfect Pitch

Now that your novel has been written, edited, critiqued, and edited some more, what’s next?  Where do you go from here?

This really depends on what you’re goals are, and what you’d like to accomplish with your work.  If you only care that a handful of people read it,  and have a desire to keep  100% of creative, marketing and advertising control, then by all means pursue self-publishing or a print-on-demand.  This is all you’ll really need.  However, if you’d like to get your books into as many hands as possible, be represented by a legitimate agent and publisher, then you’re going to need a query letter, a synopsis and one heck of a pitch. 

What is a pitch?  Pretty much, it’s a 30-second sales technique that will catch and hold the eye of potential agents, publishers, reviewers and readers.  It is your story, your novel or your idea rolled up into a one, tiny, fantastic package.

Why would you need a pitch?  30-seconds may be all the time you have to sell your idea.  When you meet, email or mail your idea to agents, publishers, reviewers or readers, you have to remember they’re bombarded everyday with other writers, just like you, wanting the same thing you are.  It’s your pitch that will make you stand out and catch an ear or an eye.  

What is the structure of a pitch?  Living in a template –ready world, we’ve somewhat become lazy with some of the things we do, most often forgetting the purpose behind it.  I’ve read many a query letter that was perfectly formatted, adhered to all the submission guidelines, but fell flat on being witty, authentic and free flowing when it came to the story they tried to describe.  Sometimes being too technical, you lose part of your creativity.  I could give you a step-by-step format for a pitch, but I’d rather just give you the reason and purpose, and allow your creativity to paint YOUR own picture. 

What is the reason & purpose for a pitch?  To tell your story in as little, yet as colorful, ways that will make the Pitched want to know more.   It’s not the whole story - the hook, it’s just the bait.  It’s what catches the ear, the eye and the curiosity that will lead to the hook.  I.e. – for the movie “Jaws”, the pitch was the tag line – “Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water …” That little line said so much.  The rest of the pitch would follow with something like - “… a little coastal town discovers what it’s like to be terrorized by a 70’ft man-eating shark.  A few brave souls face their worst fears as they battle against a beast beyond reason.  Will they be able to save their own?  Or will a killer Great White forever forge a fear of what may be lurking just beneath the surface?”  Hopefully you get the idea.  It’s not about summing up your whole story in a few quick lines – it’s about finding the most compelling element and presenting it in a way that makes the Pitched want to know more.  Then … you make sure you have a completed query, short and full synopsis, partial and full manuscript ready for the asking.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

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