On Saturday 28th June 2014, I will be attending my first Kids & YA Festival of the NSW Writers’ Centre. I’ve heard that this is a great event, and after looking at the schedule – I can’t wait! Although, I am a little nervous as I might have the opportunity to pitch my book if I am lucky – if not I will just have to corner someone. The kids tell me I have witches elbows – they might come in handy with the cornering.

Now – I repeat: PITCH MY BOOK – which means I will have to be able to answer the question ‘What is your book about?’ and not babble incoherently. Easier said than done. I’ve been babbling incoherently for years – and that’s without alcohol. Is there anyone else out there who struggles with this basic question?

So, after attending the Australian Society of Authors ‘Pitch Perfect’ Course with Claire Craig, the children’s editor at Pan Macmillan Australia, I am armed with all the information about how to create and present the perfect pitch.

Last week saw me:

  1. Ripping my synopsis apart – as most of the important information was buried under irrelevant material.
  2. Writing the blurb for the back of my book – which will also be used as part of my verbal pitch that I will rattle off with great aplomb.
  3. Re-writing my query letter.
  4. Preparing a knock-out two sentence pitch which should – sum up the genre, the age group it’s aimed at, elicit an emotional response and should intrigue and hook the reader, or editor.

Easy right? Hmmm, well lets just say that I’ve spent a lot of time this week staring at my computer screen.

Helen at High Fantasy Addict and I took pages and pages of notes at Pitch Perfect, Claire Craig was fantastic and so knowledgable, as not only is she an editor, but also the author of the Harriet Bright books and had years of experience to share with us. For anyone about to take that next step of trying to sell your book – this course was well worth it. Claire’s advice was invaluable and I highly recommend the course – so when it comes around again get in early to secure a place. I also met and chatted to like-minded writers who are all in the same place as me – we have our book, or draft, we want to see it published – and we all want to know the best way to go about it.

Publishing is a tricky business – most publishers take on limited new authors each year so your book needs to stand out, and you need to put yourself out there. ‘Out where?’ my husband asks every time I say this phrase – in this case ‘out there’ means – involve yourself with the writing community, attend conferences and festivals, talk to writers, read – especially in your genre, join a writers group and most of all –

♦♦ Be brave, believe in your story and get ‘out there’ and pitch your book! ♦♦

Here is small summary of what I took away from the Pitch Perfect course:

  • Your pitch should show immeasurable depths to the story in very few words. (Iceberg Theory)

    Tip of the Iceberg
    Iceberg Theory: Hemingway believed the true meaning of a piece of writing should not be evident from the surface story, rather, the crux of the story lies below the surface and should be allowed to shine through
  • Limit the adverbs and adjectives and err on the side of brevity.
  • You are asking an agent or publisher to invest in YOU, so give them the best you can, find the important parts that will sell YOUR story. Your pitch is a mirror to your story.
  • Your blurb is your ultimate selling tool – it should be powerful, impart the heart of your novel, it should intrigue, have resonance, should hook the reader, it needs to aim for the heart and elicit an emotional response, should have the best parts of your novel, should have an atmosphere of mystery and leave an impression, should promise and entice reader with an exciting experience and  be lyrical.
  • Step outside your book – think about your audience and what’s in it for the reader.
  • Practice looking from the outside in and self-edit, self analyse and self-help.
  • Write and prepare – treat your synopsis and blurb like a piece of writing – give it the same time and focus as your novel.
  • For your verbal pitch – Practice the verbal delivery of your pitch and rehearse your performance, constantly read your audience and be prepared for any question – know your novel, construct your authorial persona – be polished and practiced – it is a performance, you are selling your idea – so believe in it, or no one else will, have a great script and inhabit your authorial persona – it is you x 10!

To see the full list of courses offered by the Australian Society of Authors, and to join as an Associate Member (for aspiring writers) click here.

Click on the colourful picture below to read my too long for a blurb / not quite a synopsis yet, or a pitch….that still needs work.

Aurora 2
Illuminations by Lisa Fleetwood

9 replies to “What is your book about? Pitching & putting yourself out there.”

  1. Thanks for posting this, Lisa. I hope you don’t mind me reblogging this. We all need all the help we can get with the difficult art of writing pitches :)

    1. Thanks Jane! Of course I am happy for you to reblog.
      I didn’t get a chance to pitch at the Kids & YA Festival unfortunately so didn’t to give my pitch a whirl – but I’m booked in to Literary Speed Dating in November so that’s when it will get scary!

Comments are closed.