Tag s | Pitching

What Caught My Eye

A couple weeks ago we talked about the hook, the sound bite, or the ability to “say it in a sentence.” Someone asked for examples so I thought I’d give you a few.

Below are a few short pitches found in proposals that caught my eye over the years from first-time 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.

Your challenge will be to see if you can identify which books these are. Do you recognize them? Each one has been published by a major publisher. Three are nonfiction, the other two are novels. I might reveal the answers if no one is able to figure them out.

Also note that each has a clear idea, one of the keys to a successful pitch.

A hint for the two novels? They both won the Christy Award for best debut novel!

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This Bible study concept is uniquely designed to connect to women ages 20 to 40, drawing them closer to God and closer to each other. Our generation simply does not have time for hours of Bible study a week for several months. We don’t want to fill in the blanks. We want to go deep quickly and actually deal with sin, not just learn about it. And we want to do it on our terms, engaging in raw relational discussions about struggles and hopes, while deeply considering truth and how it applies to our lives.

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One woman’s battle against a corrupt government to save her son and their race for freedom.

A three-year-old boy struggles to survive in a Ukrainian orphanage. An American family senses God’s call to adopt a child from a foreign land. What unfolds is a spellbinding true-life story of commitment, sacrifice, and intrigue as a mother single-handedly takes on a corrupt foreign legal system and lives in hiding for nearly a year as she pieces together the plan that will hopefully free her from impending arrest and bring her son home to freedom.

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Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words? They can always heal me.
A child whose silence holds the truth captive…
An artist whose work speaks the agony of her past…
Will they let the truth set them free?

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In a world void of role models, where rebellion and arrogance are rewarded, it’s easy to wonder if raising respectful children is possible at all.

A real look at real problems with real answers from real parents. We can’t shield our children from every possible menace, but we can fortify their souls to minimize the damage. Our children can become champions rather than casualties.

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A simple baggage mix-up at the airport is more than an inconvenience: it forces three people to face the baggage they are unknowingly carrying around.

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Five ideas in short form. Can you name the titles and authors?

 

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Say It in a Sentence

Can you present your book idea in one sentence?

Can you present that idea in such a way that the reader is compelled to buy your book?

What motivates someone to spend money on a book? It is the promise that there is something of benefit to me, the reader.

Books are generally purchased for one of three reasons:

Entertainment Information Inspiration

If your book idea can make me want to read it, whether it is for entertainment, information, or inspiration, then you are well on your way to making a sale.

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Would You Buy Your Own Book?

When I ask a room of writers if they would buy their own book if they saw it on the shelf at a major bookstore I am met with a variety of reactions. Laughter. Pensiveness. Surprise. And even a few scowls. How would you answer that question?

But the question is meant to ask if your book idea is unique. Whether it will stand out among the noise of the competition.

It is not a question of whether your book is important or valuable or even well written. It is ultimately a question of commercial viability.

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That Conference Appointment

You snagged one of those valuable 15 minute appointments with an agent or an editor at the writers conference. Now what? What do you say? How do you say it? And what does that scowling person on the other side of the table want? What if you blow it?

Many excellent posts have been written on this topic (see Rachelle Gardner and Kate Schafer Testerman for example) but thought I would add my perspective as well.

What advice would you give to a beginning writer about attending a writers conference and meeting with an editor or an agent?

Go in with realistic expectations.

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Brainstorming: How and With Whom?

Brainstorming is one of the fun parts in the development of a book. The key for the author is a willingness to hear other ideas. The second, and most critical key, is discovering those with whom you should brainstorm. Those people need to be willing to have their ideas rejected in the discussions and be willing to let an idea they created to be used by someone else. It takes a special person…many times a professional…to achieve that.

I’ve heard complaints from some authors who try this in a critique group only to be frustrated. Egos get in the way or the ideas generated are singularly unhelpful. Or the discussion doesn’t move the project forward, instead it gets sidetracked by numerous differing opinions on the direction of the piece.

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The Ultimate Sound Bite

Can you boil the essence of your novel or non-fiction book idea into twenty-five words or less?

This is one of the keys to creating a marketing hook that makes your idea sellable in today’s crowded market.

You have less than a minute to make that hook work.

It is also called creating the “elevator pitch” or the “Hollywood pitch.” The goal is get the marketing department to exclaim, “We can sell that without any problem!” And ultimately to get a consumer to say, “I want that” or “I need that” or “I know someone who should have that.”

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What Does Your Reader Need?

I attend many writers’ conferences, as an author, speaker, and agent. As a result, I meet and become friends with many fine people and outstanding writers. At a recent gathering, I enjoyed a spirited and stimulating conversation with an aspiring author who has a passion for reaching readers with the …

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Author Says / Agent Hears

Many aspiring authors communicate things they think are positive, or at least in the spirit of honesty and transparency, but end up being understood entirely different than the intended message. In an attempt to show commitment, an aspiring author says, “I’ve been working on this book for ten years.” An …

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