When you’ve finished a story and you’re ready to see who might want to publish it, a common piece of advice you’ll hear is this: you need to know how to write a pitch for a book.
And your response is probably something like this: “How do I do that?”
The pitch for your book is essentially a promise that you’re making about the value you have to offer to a reader. Think of it as an advertisement that publishers, agents, or both are going to see. You want people to know what your book is about, what you hope to accomplish with the story, and what your targeted reader demographics happen to be.
If you can answer those questions, then you’ll be able to write a pretty good pitch. Here are some extra tips you might want to think about as you begin the writing process.
#1. Make it as perfect as possible.
If you ask the average agent or publisher about the pitches they hear or receive, they’ll tell you that a vast majority of them are “unprofessional.” They are either rushed and have bad spelling or grammar, are a form letter that was sent to potentially hundreds of people, or you’re just not willing to work very hard. None of those are good first impressions. So take the time to make your pitch as structurally perfect as possible.
#2. Follow the pitch guidelines that are offered.
Many publishers and agents have specific pitch guidelines that they’ll want you to follow. Make sure that you follow them! These are often published on their website. If you don’t see any guidelines, send them an email or pick up the phone to call them about their guidelines so you can get the pitch right.
Here’s a pro tip: Make sure you’re ready to give an agent or a publisher the pitch for your book if you call to receive guidelines. You might have the opportunity to make your pitch right then.
#3. Keep the pitch professional, but also conversational.
If you write in a formal way, then keep your pitch formal. The goal here is to create consistency with the pitch you are writing and the book you have written. You want those who are reading this pitch to become comfortable with the ideas that you’re offering. Excitement never comes from discomfort when you’re talking about a book that you want to have published.
#4. Make sure to answer every question that might be asked.
A written pitch is an opportunity for you to address questions that someone might have about your book. If you leave questions unanswered, one of two outcomes will happen: your pitch will be rejected or you are going to be asked to answer those questions. So be proactive and just answer them as you’re writing your pitch.
How do you figure out what questions will be asked? Ask a few people to read your book. Then ask them if they had any questions after reading it.
#5. Start writing your pitch before you’ve finished your story.
Sometimes it is a good idea to write your pitch before you’ve finished the book. You might even consider writing the pitch before you even start writing the book. By forcing yourself into a corner where you must effectively summarize what the book is about, you’re able to be more precise with the pitch so that it can be understood.
#6. A pitch doesn’t have to be about a specific book.
Sure. You’ve probably written a book by now and you want to get it published. You can also use a pitch in a variety of ways that don’t involve this current book.
- You can write a pitch which covers several different ideas and ask the reviewer which idea they think is the best one.
- You can write a pitch that asks for a critique of your work.
- You can write a pitch about your story even if it isn’t finished yet based on the core ideas you’re writing about.
Does this mean you’ll receive a response? It does. It just may mean it isn’t the response you want. Not getting a response from a pitch is feedback, just as receiving gushing praise or a scathing critique is feedback.
It can be nerve-wracking to write a pitch, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Talk about your book and the ideas you’ve offered to readers. Talk about yourself a little if you wish. Then edit your pitch, polish it up, and it will be ready to be presented.