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How to Write a Pitch for a Book

There are times when you don’t need to have written a full manuscript in order to sell a book idea. If you can get into a pitch session with a literary agent or publisher, then do it. These pitch sessions can help you sell an idea that can get you paid while you are writing a book.

These are the pitches that happen in person. First-time authors will typically need to sell an agent or publisher on the idea of their completed manuscript. This is where knowing how to write a pitch for a book can be a useful skill. This guide will take you through the steps that you’re going to want to follow.

Part #1: The Concept

The first part of the pitch involves why someone should be interested in your book in the first place. Imagine that your best friend asks you what your book is about in 12 words or less. That’s what the concept is for the pitch.
To make matters more challenging, you need to make sure that your idea being pitched is original. Maybe the idea is original to you, but other writers may have explored the idea already. A publisher or agent won’t accept your work if it is similar to something else recently published.

The concept should also be obvious to pick up when reading this short sentence. You are looking for something that can be easily communicated, yet show traces of conception and creativity.

Part #2: The Expansion

Once you’ve communicated your concept in the pitch for a book, you’re ready to expand upon that thought. This is what the second section is about. You’re going to be discussing the primary characters in your book, what the conflict of your story happens to be, and why it is important.

Here’s the problem: you’ve got exactly 2-3 sentences to convey a book full of ideas. If you get stuck, it can be helpful to reference the 6 questions of reporting: who, what, where, when, why, and how.

Part #3: The Synopsis

Believe it or not, this is the trickiest part of the pitch process. This is because each literary agent and publisher has different standards for what they believe is an acceptable synopsis. Before starting the pitch process, make sure you know what instructions you’re supposed to follow. Otherwise you may not have the person reading your pitch get beyond Part #2.

Most will want to receive a synopsis that is 150-500 words in length. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll assume that this is what your agent or publisher wants.

The synopsis is another expansion of what your story is about. Think of it like you’re writing a book review. It needs to include core plot elements, some background information about your important characters, and a meaningful resolution to the conflict that your story is about.

Take your time writing the synopsis. It needs to be carefully crafted. It must be grammatically correct. It must also be as interesting as the previous parts of your pitch.

Part #4: The Close

You’ve gotten through the hard stuff… or have you?You’re still going to need to close off your pitch. As with the full synopsis, there are going to be some specific requirements you may need to follow. There might also be zero requirements to follow. You never know. So this guide will offer some general advice that you can tailor to some specific requirements.

It’s usually a good idea to talk a little bit about yourself. Don’t tell your life story. Just a sentence or two about who you are and what you do. If you’ve won something awesome, like a Terry Pratchett Award, then mention it.

Then use your manners. Thank the person who has been reading your pitch. You’ve taken up time they can never get back, so you want them to feel good about their investment in you. Remember to include your contact information as well. You might have been awesome in everything, but if the agent or publisher is unable to contact you, then your efforts will be all for naught.

Now You’re Ready to Mail Off Your Pitch

You’ve completed the pitch for your book. Now you’re ready to mail it to the party who will be reading it. Now comes the worst part of all: waiting. It may take up to 90 days for you to receive a response about your pitch. You might not ever receive a response from some. That’s okay. Just keep trying. Keep improving. Keep working.

That’s what you need to know regarding how to write a pitch for a book. So what are you waiting for? Get started right now.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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