Pitching

Diligence Is Rewarded

The ease of today’s communication brings a casual layer to the task of writing. Careful composition is a casualty of the need for speed. “Throw-away” emails and posts are the new “quick call.” However, it should never leak into the business of writing, either in craft or in professional communication.

The other day I received an email query. There was a very large file attached and the body of the email read, “Here is my book. Please take a look.” No signature line and no subject line. Only these two sentences. At least it rhymed. This was not a friend, a client, or someone I had ever met. The casual, even flippant, nature of the note all but said, “I’m not serious about the craft or business of writing.”

The best writers are those who take their ideas and their words and run them through a gauntlet of critique and reformation. They pour their words into a garlic press and slice and dice them into bits that can flavor their entire book.

This takes time. This takes hard work. And it is a process that seems endless.

You writers out there know what I’m talking about. It is the middle part of the project that is the worst. It becomes a slog instead of a joy. You no longer like the story, you no longer think your book idea is a good one after all. If you are writing a novel, you might be wishing for the demise of your main character; it would be so much easier to have that character croak so you could write “the end” and be done with it.

But diligence has its reward. A finely crafted book can bring hope to those who are hurting. A well-told story can take a reader to a place they’ve never been before. As one writer said, “A book is a place where you can consider an explosive idea without fear of it going off in your face.”

Those words you struggle to express will be a gift for someone who is struggling to express their own.

So as you wrestle with your writing demons, remember the word “diligence.” Write it on a Post-it note and place where you will see it regularly.

Samuel Johnson wrote, “What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.”

Second Peter 1:5-7 says, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”

Leave a Comment

12 Steps to Publication

It takes 12 strikes to achieve a perfect game in bowling. (See last Friday’s video.) It made me think there are 12 things that need to happen in the publication process. Each must knock down all the pins to achieve publishing success. With that simplistic idea in mind, I came …

Read More

The Best Ways to Submit Your Work

I started writing for publication back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The process was fairly simple then, if unpromising of success. I wrote a query, article, or book proposal, put it into an envelope along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) for its return, sealed it, and mailed it. And …

Read More

Is It Ready to Submit?

You’ve poured out your soul. You’ve written your heart out. You’ve struggled and sweated over how to say what you want to say. You’ve paced the floor, clicked your heels, and now you think maybe it’s ready to submit. But how do you know? Good question. “Good question” usually means …

Read More

Who’s Your Book For?

A critical part of writing a good book—and a good pitch or proposal for a book—is defining your book’s audience. We all know, of course, that you shouldn’t try to write a book “for everyone.” But your book’s audience can be an elusive target. I suggest three distinct and mutually …

Read More

What Caught My Eye


Last week we talked about the hook, the sound bite, or the ability to “say it in a sentence.” One reader asked for examples so I thought I’d give you a few.

Below are the short pitches of proposals that have caught my eye over the years from debut authors. Please realize that the sound bite is only one of many factors that goes into a great proposal. Ultimately it is the execution of the concept that makes for a great book. For example, The Help by Kathryn Stockett would not have succeeded as a word-of-mouth bestseller if the writing did not support the story. (No, we did not represent that title, I’m only trying to make a point. :-))

Your challenge will be to see if you can identify which books these sound bites are pitching. Each one has been published. One is obviously non-fiction, the other two are novels. The answers to each of these will be provided later this week in the comments section. along with a link to the title so you can see it in its final form.

Read More

Write Like Paul

Somerset Maugham wrote, “There is an impression abroad that everyone has it in him to write one book; but if by this is implied a good book the impression is false” (The Summing Up). Far be it from me to add to Maugham’s words, but I’m going to. So I …

Read More