It's finally October and in celebration of the third anniversary of IWSG we're putting together a free ebook titled, IWSG: A Guide to Publishing and Beyond. Today on our usual first Wednesday posting of the month, the group is sharing the post we've submitted to the book. You should know by now that the entire IWSG universe is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. You can find the entire list of participants here and if you haven't joined by now, what are you waiting for?
Are You Ready to Submit?
The time has come for you to send your creation out into the world of publishing. Before you submit a query or pitch to an editor or agent at a conference you need to be prepared with your sales pitch. In the world of publishing, there are four general pitches you should prepare ahead of time.
This one sentence pitch should include five key factors. The who, the what, the when/where, the how and the why. Use this example sentence and fill it in with your unique information and then work with it to make it more sensible and interesting.
In a (setting/when/where) a (protagonist/who) has a (difficulty caused by an antagonist/the what) and (faces the conflict/how) as the tries to (achieve the goal/why.)
In a face to face meeting, this simple line could lead to a lengthier interview or request for a longer description.
The Elevator Pitch
This is the nickname for a five to six line pitch such as you might use at a conference if you luck out and run into an editor in the elevator or at the bar. The easiest way to do this is expand on your logline. A sentence with the setting, one about the protagonist, another about the difficulty or challenge, the fourth about facing the conflict and the last should be why facing it is important or the protagonist’s goal.
The elevator pitch also comes in handy as a guide to the short paragraph usually requested in a query letter to briefly describe your story. Make each sentence count.
Often times an agent or publisher will ask for a one page summary of your novel. Include the five elements mentioned above for the shorter pitches and give each a bit more attention. This is a chance to add all those unique elements of your setting, your characters and the difficulties facing them. Even though a page might seem very long compared to the elevator pitch, make each sentence count. You’ll also be judged on your writing. Are you using active verbs and avoiding those adverbs? Include anything that makes your characters different and compelling. Don’t forget to include the ending or conclusion of the story. Editors expect to find out how the conflict is resolved when reading a synopsis.
Longer Synopsis or Outline
Sometimes an editor will put a page count on this request. It might be five to six pages or even as long as twelve. Or they might not specify on the length. The easiest way to do it is make each chapter a short paragraph. If the paragraph for a certain chapter seems frivolous or uninteresting that may give you a clue that you should cut some scenes from your book. Even in a long synopsis you don’t have to include everything or mention every secondary character. Again remember your writing style and voice are being judged at the same time as the content of your story is. Don’t make your outline a dry dissertation of facts. Remember when you were in school and had to give those dreaded book reports. Report with all the enthusiasm of sharing the most favorite book you’ve ever read.
Be prepared with all four types of pitches before trying to sell your book. Chances are you’re going to need them sooner or later. The logline and the elevator pitch will come in handy at book signings when readers stop by and ask what your book is about. Once you’re prepared your pitches, impose on your critique partners to evaluate them and make it as perfect as you can.
Are you experienced writing pitches? Do you find them difficult? Have you submitted your article to the book?