Masters tales · Short stories archive

The Pitch – how to write a pitch to an agent or publisher

The Pitch – how to write a pitch to an agent or publisher

So I thought about writing a story about this but have actually been given some information on how to put a pitch to an agent or publisher, so I thought I’d pass it on.

So you’ve spent a time pouring your heart out over the a blank page and the result is a novel, novella, short story collection or some type of creative writing. Now, if you are anything like me, you then sit back and say “now what?” You find your publisher or agent… except this is easier said than done. I suggest you look at Writers and Artists 2013 for any clues, but look at what has been published and see if your writing would fit on their shelves. Then find a name to send your work to… and today I found out that those in the industry like you to use both their first and second name. So the cover letter or proposal should start:

Dear Jane Smith (for example)

Then you start putting in the content which should include:

Title – this has to be catchy and something that grabs your attention. I am notoriously bad at this but have a look at your favourite books, what made you choose them?

The one sentence hook/tagline – this is one sentence that rounds up the whole story. Again, something that you can spend hours on, but it can be the difference between the book getting picked up or not. Grab a book off your shelves and have a look at their taglines then write one for your book (this is easier said than done and I have been working a couple of days on mine with no success so good luck!)

A brief overview or blurb – this is what is written on the back of the cover or with an e-book it’s in the description box. What you want to do is tell the publisher about the book in a way they want to read on.

The audience – who is the book for? This should only be one or two sentences.

The author – yes that means you! A paragraph on who you are and what you’ve done. Sell yourself and list any previous publications or competition wins. You are trying to show the publisher or agent that you are not a risk but a safe bet.

How you can market the book – do you have a blog? Then let them know. How many followers? Can you help book sales? Are you a member of any organisations? Can you speak publicly, and in particular have you ever done any book readings? Don’t tell them your willingness but tell them what you have done.

The book – here you list how many words it is (or will be), the number of chapters and whether it is complete. You can pitch a book before you have finished it. If it is your first novel or book then finishing it is a good idea.

And voila you have a cover letter. Now all you have to do is write the synopsis (up to 2 pages outlining your story) and send some sample chapters. From what I’ve seen this is normally the first three, but check with the publisher or agent you are sending it to as they may want the whole manuscript.

Here I’ve listed some pointers about what an agent or publisher wants you to know:

  • Their name
  • What genre you are writing
  • Where you fit in the marketplace
  • Know the type of books they publish
  • Be professional
  • Be interesting
  • Be promotable
  • Let them know any other projects – no agent wants to take on someone who writes only once. They need to know you have more books in you – so tell them.

Good luck and I’ll keep you posted on how my submissions go. 🙂

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