Knowing how to pitch something so it catches a publisher or editor’s attention is key. The best examples in how to do this is by looking at how companies advertise. There are many different tools companies use, one of the most common is the five one minute commercial. We see them every day while watching TV, movies and hear them on the radio. Print ads are another form of advertising companies use. You see them in magazines, newspapers and on the internet. You may even see them if we live an area where there are signs posted on the road such as Billboards. Lastly, promotions and coupons are the other tool companies use to advertise their goods and services, but did you ever stop to think what an ad really is? It is a pitch . . . to you the customer.
I know what you're thinking, "But I'm not going to be placing T.V, and/or Radio ads, posting a Billboard, giving away coupons or should I dare think it . . . do an infomercial."
The thing is you will be, but your pitch will be done through phone calls, media/press releases, book convention blurbs, conference handouts if you’re a guest speaker and/or teaching a workshop, and maybe even during an interview on T.V. or the radio. Therefore, knowing how to pitch something is really important and the thing is . . . you've already been using the techniques in our cover, query, and book synopsis letters. Now we just need to add that “WOW” factor so when you are in person, or writing a media release or blurb, it catches the right people's attention.
Okay, let's say we're face to face and you can walk right up to me, and talk to me about this great idea you have for an article, story, or book. Pitching to an editor, publisher, or agent in person is no different from pitching to them via a book proposal. The only real difference is now you are face to face and you have to cut down on the detail a bit. Unless they are interested and starting asking you questions about the book. The problem is . . . most people will choke at this point. I mean who wouldn't? Here you are, face to face with someone who could just turn you down flat in front of a crowd of people. Awful as it sounds, it is something you have to get past. This brings me right back to Selling 101. As a sales person, you go to work each day knowing you will have more hang-ups or people walking out of your store than successfully closing a sale. So why do these people keep doing what they are doing? Because they believe in what they are selling and so should YOU!
A proposal in person, on the phone, or in a letter is an extension from your query letter and book synopsis. Now you see why I talked on these key points earlier in my blog postings. It is because everything builds upon each other. Just like your writing: first you learn how to hone your skills, then you jog down some ideas, write an outline, sit down to write whatever it was you were inspired to write, revise, get a critique, revise some more, let it sit, revise some more and then prepare to send it out.
Each tool is a building block for success and so it is in selling and marketing.
Unlike a query, a proposal may be four or five double-spaced pages when typed. In person, it needs to be tight, to the point, and have the “WOW” factor to get the person you are pitching asking questions and wanting to see more of what you have to offer.
Your pitch needs to detailed like your outline of your book, it should describe the sort of illustrations you plan to gather or would like to see, and just maybe . . . you even have some samples to show the person on you. Hint . . . hint.
A few things to keep in mind when giving a pitch:
- Keep your pitch to four lines.
- Practice giving your pitch in front of a mirror.
- Always have back-up answers in our mind for possible questions.
- Try your pitch out on a writing friend or family member. Have them throw questions at you.
- Keep every sentence tight and to the point. You do not want to give away all your plot details or the ending of your story.
Pitching is not something to fear. It should be something you cannot wait to do. Let your excitement show through and your passion. Just don't over kill either. Be willing to listen to criticism as well when pitching. Then find a way to turn those negatives into features and benefits as to why they need see your book.