The Art of Pitching

As a new writer, you will have to be able to make a strong proposal for your novel in order to grab attention and get the publishing ball rolling. Sadly, in this day and age it is increasingly difficult to let talent speak for itself, so below are a few bases that need to be covered when pitching your novel to an audience. If you don’t have any background in marketing and advertising, then reading up a bit on copywriting is a good start – anything that inspires you to make a good case for your work.

  •  Title. A title is obviously important to your novel, but do not lose too much sleep over it if you aren’t inspired right away, the publisher can always work with you towards changing the title if they don’t feel it’s right or if you are having trouble yourself. If you are still unsure by the time you write up your proposal, use your best idea and add (working title) to give a little leeway.
  • Selling points. Use headed bullet points to mark out why the book will sell – this is a great way of grabbing agents and publishers. These can include anything from the size of the market and current trends, to how you will promote and sell the book.
  • Brief summary. A few paragraphs used to describe the book in a compelling and informative style. Many publishers advise you write your summary as if it were a blurb directed at the reader – describe what the book is, what it covers and why they will want to buy it.
  • Market. The more info you can fit in here, the better. Highlight if there are any overseas marketing opportunities that you can see, or if it should purely be UK based. Think about who is going to buy your book, how easily can they be reached? In what numbers are they found? Use the internet to research statistics, find out what the market spend is at that moment, and if there are any similar books doing well.
  • Competition. Be as honest as possible at this point. Research any similar titles that have recently been published, and how they will challenge yours. Try and get hold of some copies to read through, and highlight the strengths and weaknesses of them in comparison to your book. Just because a book has competition, does not mean it won’t succeed.
  • Contents. This is preferable when pitching a non-fiction book, though a rough contents outline can also be written up for fiction. Briefly summarise what each chapter will cover, and what the editor can expect over the course of the book. This should take up no more than a page.
  • Bio. The agent or editor will, of course, want to know a little about you. Use this as an opportunity to sell yourself, just as you’ve sold your novel.                                       

We are taking a brief hiatus next Friday, for the seasonal break, but will be back with more updates and tips from 3rd January 2014. We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and fantastic New Year!

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