Tonight my husband and I attended a book tour event called "Pitchapalooza with the Book Doctors", hosted by local independent book store, Rainy Day Books. As I've mentioned, my husband recently self-published a fantasy adventure novel, so book marketing is very much on our minds these days.
The event format was interesting - everyone who attended put their names into a drawing, and book authors David Henry Sterry and Arielle Eckstut ("The Book Doctors") picked names at random to pitch the panel of publishing industry experts with their book concepts. Everyone got exactly one minute to present their pitch, then the panel offered comments and suggestions for improvement. It was fascinating to hear all the vastly different concepts for books, as well as the panel's comments.
I jotted down some of the tips shared by the panelists, and since this is a marketing blog, I thought I would share them here.
- Differentiate your book from others in your genre. Help the agent/publisher see what makes your book different or better from what's already out there. Is there more room on the shelf for a book like this?
- The job of the pitch is to pique the agent's/publisher's/reader's interest. If you can't grab their interest in one minute, your pitch will fail.
- A book pitch needs a main character for the agent/publisher/reader to relate to/fall in love with. Help "us" (the agent/publisher/reader) decide why to spend time with your main character. Why should we care about what happens to him/her?
- Think of your book pitch like a movie trailer - who is the "man on the poster"?
- Include a brief mention of your qualifications for writing this book - why should we listen to you?
- What's at stake in the story? Establish this early in the pitch (don't wait 45 seconds into a 60-second pitch).
- Is this a book...or a blog? Do you really have enough material/content to fill full-fledged book?
- Address the question, "Why does this book need to exist?"
- Don't just say the main character has a "dark sense of humor", *show* us his dark humor.
- Don't just give a glimpse of "strange bizarre-ness" in your story, show us. Offer "word pictures". But quickly & succinctly.
- Use your writing skills to illustrate, and give a sense of your unique writing voice.
- Cite statistics of your audience, particularly for non-fiction book projects. How many people would be interested in this topic?
- Compare the audience for your book with the audience of other similar books. If readers of Stephen King's "Needful Things" would enjoy your book, mention that.
- Summarize who your book would appeal to - geeks, entrepreneurs, spiritually-minded women, cancer survivors, etc.
- Describe what the reader will get out of reading your book.
- Demonstrate how ideas are going to manifest in the book/story.
- Give an idea of the nemesis, the struggle, what's working against the protagonist.
Oh, and do all this in about a minute.
While I did write a formal book proposal for my books, I consider myself vastly lucky I didn't have to compose a one minute rock star-ready elevator pitch. The pressure!
You can read some sample pitches & comments in this post on the Book Doctors' blog: NaNoWriMo Pitchapalooza Pitches
Everyone who bought the book at the event is supposed to get a 15-20 minute phone consultation with the authors, which I thought was very generous. I'm curious to see if the consult actually get scheduled, and what the authors will have to say about my husband's book.