Writing a pitch for a novel is no easy task. Whether face to face or as part of a query letter, how to pitch a book to literary agents means being able to present your book as a piece of theater. The writer must make the case why the world needs their book. Even if you are intent on self-publishing, it’s still a good idea to be able answer the points raised in this post. All authors are well-served from taking the effort to articulate their book’s appeal.
How to Pitch a Book
The first step I took in preparing to pitch a book with literary agents at the PNWA conference in Seattle, Washingon was to write a logline for Lost Girl Road. After consulting many sources, I followed the guidelines in this link: How to Write a Logline. This one sentence took four hours to write! Then author SP Mount suggested I incorporate more power words.
- A browbeaten housewife plagued by the spirit of her daughter’s best friend, struggles to come to terms with the shocking role she and her alcoholic husband play in the girl’s bizarre disappearance—until she has no choice but to face her demons.
Then I really stumbled when trying to write my pitch because I kept trying to incorporate the entire logline, but I finally decided it was too much of a mouthful. Agent Katharine Sands offered the following formula:
- Place: Describe where the story starts.
- Person: Who is the main character and what qualities do they possess?
- Pivot: What is the inciting incident that introduces the conflict the character will face?
- Takeaway: Why should people buy this book? What titles compare to yours?
The pitch sessions were only four minutes long, so luckily I didn’t have to dazzle my audience with the takeaway portion. When it comes to how to write a pitch, I rather painfully realized that I am not ready to answer that crucial question. Now that I’m beginning to revise Lost Girl Road, I can start to formulate a clearer picture of comparable book titles already available on the market.
In any case, I spent the hour before my pitch session alone in my hotel room recording myself on my iPhone repeatedly giving my pitch.
Rather than just post the raw video footage, I took the opportunity to play around a bit with Adobe Premiere Elements. Alas, I won’t even divulge how long it took to edit and add all of the effects. One thing is certain, I am in dire need of a laptop that doesn’t keep freezing-up when using such software.
Attending the PNWA conference has brought new focus to Lost Girl Road as I am now just beginning the second draft. If you’d like to read more about my pitching experience, I take a humorous approach on Carol Wyer’s blog in a post titled Pitching a Fit: How to Find a Literary Agent. Ron Herron also recently offered some excellent advice in his post Why Go to a Writer’s Conference.
I’m more excited than ever to try to shape my novel into something great! More than anything the conference served to boost my confidence at just the right time.
What’s your take on writing conferences and/or the description of Lost Girl Road?