Monday, May 2, 2011

More advice on How to Hook An Agent w/ Sara Megibow

ON MY MIND by Sara Megibow

Whether you are looking for an agent to sell your book or planning to self publish a book, the ability to pitch your story is vitally important!

I'm in the middle of a whirlwind three-conference tour, so pitching is on my mind. Knowing how to condense your story into an engaging one-sentence pitch is a skill. It's an important skill and it's a difficult one! Here are five times this skill comes into play in publishing and, not to scare you, but each one of these times can be a career-influencing moment.

1) The best query letters include an engaging, unique, powerful pitch sentence. For example, "the kingdom's hero is tricked into drinking poison just days before the queen is kidnapped" is a more powerful pitch than "the kingdom's hero must go on many adventures to save the kidnapped queen." We would ask for sample pages for the first example and pass on reading sample pages for the second example.

2) A one-sentence pitch is how you would communicate to an agent, editor or fellow writer what your story is about. Meeting someone in person? Attending a pitch session at a conference? It's super important to be able to answer the question, "so what do you write?"

3) You may or may not know this, but as an agent I may take that pitch right out of your query and send it to editors when I put a book on submission. (Often I tweak it but the core of the pitch is from the query.) The editor reads your pitch and takes it to the sales meeting to decide if they will make an offer; the sales director takes that pitch to the sales team to decide how they will market the book to book buyers. The book buyers read the pitch and decide how many (if any) copies they want to acquire for their stores. Last but not least, the reader reads your pitch (aka the back cover copy) and decides whether or not to buy and read your book. This is, of course, a bit of an oversimplification, but you get the idea. Publishing is not about putting books on shelves; it's about readers buying books and reading them. Your pitch is the hook that ultimately results in readers.

4) We are seeing tremendous amounts of press right now regarding self-publishing. This explosive publishing model has its pros and cons (as does the traditional publishing model, to be fair). Writers excited to pursue self-publishing will need to know how to pitch! In fact, it will rest even more heavily on the writer to craft a compelling hook. The term "discoverability" is vital to standing out in the crowd, and learning how to communicate convincingly about your work is key.

5) Finally (maybe because I've been yapping about pitching so much on twitter recently), I've been invited to teach an online webinar for Writer's Digest this month. The workshop is called "How to Hook an Agent with your Query Letter" and will be taught on Thursday, May 26 at 1:00 EST (yes, you can still access the workshop even if you are unavailable at that particular time). For those writers interested in attending, I am looking forward to this webinar very much! I will have lots of juicy details to help those interested in pursuing traditional publishing and those interested in self-publishing. See details here:
Master the pitch as this skill is the key to so many aspects of publishing!

Happy writing,

(Thanks for allowing me to share, Sara.)

Dawn Chartier

No comments: