The Five Elements of a Good Novel Pitch
If you guys haven’t heard about the Book Doctors, then
what have you been doing with your writing life allow me to educate you.
David Henry Sterry and Arielle Ekstut are a husband and wife couple who work closely with NaNoWriMo and are the authors of a fantastic book titled “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.” (get it and read it, it’s fabulous) These two wonderful people just did a YouTube livestream (it’s two hours long, watch it here) and at the tail end of it, David Sterry mentions the five elements of a really solid pitch…
- Research: Make sure that any facts you use in your pitch (as a hook or that are relevant to your novel) are accurate. It sounds like common sense, but you might be surprised how so many details can get overlooked. Unfortunately, pitches are all about detail. Suffice it to say, if you’re writing a medical thriller, then you’ll want to have intimate knowledge of medical procedures.
- Connection / Networking: One of the things that surprised me about pitching a novel is the “resume” part of a pitch. I thought that pitching was all about selling your book, but you have to sell yourself, too. If a well-known author has praised your book, mention that! If you’re writing a book for middle schoolers titled “How to Be A Loser 101″ then throw in a mention of how you were a loser for years and years (humor and connection. Double whammy). If you’re like me and you don’t have any credentials relevant to your story, then this humorous route may be the way to go.
- Writing: A pitch should be under 250 words. Every word needs to count, needs to be chosen, needs to be the best word to sell your book and yourself. You need to take time, slow down, and really think. 250 is a lot less than it sounds, so try not to get discouraged and keep at it until you feel that you’ve really summarized the essence of your book.
*Note: pitches for sci-fi and fantasy novels can be a little bit longer because they tend to need more buildup and explanation, but don’t go over 300. Just don’t.
- Perseverance: Writing the right pitch can take a long time. Heck, it took the Book Doctors months to come up with theirs, but now they can recite it in sync, with hand motions (skip to 2:01:38 to see it!). Condensing an entire novel down to 250 words is hard, even without considering that those 250 are supposed to convey why your book needs to be published. But take it one step at a time, and most importantly…
- Have fun with it! We all know that joy and passion should permeate our work, and that should be no different when it comes to your pitch. Let your pitch have style and humor and voice and cliffhangers, just like your book does.
Keeping all these elements in mind when you’re writing your novel pitch can be really helpful. And if you hit a wall? Step back, take a breath. Use your resources (like the Book Doctor’s video here or their book “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published”).
And if you want to, send me your pitches! I’m not professional, but I’d love to hear about your guys’s books. Tag me in a post or send them to me in a message and I’ll help if I can!