Tag: pitching

pitching

And more pitch tips!

Last night (or possibly last week–I’m not sure. Still on California time) I spoke to the Central Coast Writers meeting in Pacific Grove. A truly lovely group of people who made me and my daughter feel very welcome. My daughter was there to assist me in my talk, which was about how to use pitches to help you sell your book, but also how to use them to diagnose problems with your novel. I am a self-confessed pitch addict and find them very useful in figuring out if a writing project is worth pursuing. It’s also a great way to figure out if the structure of your novel is working. For example, one of the things you want to include in your pitch is a sense of the conflict that will fuel your story. Ideally that conflict should happen fairly early on. Ideally it should happen around the first chapter. But what if you’re writing your pitch and realize that nothing happens worth writing about until page 218? That can be a sign that your novel is not starting quickly enough. In fact, a gentleman at the meeting who’d just had a book published said that his editor wound up […]

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Pitch tips

The first question I always ask when I’m helping someone write a pitch is: What is interesting about your book? Usually the answer falls into one of four categories: character, plot, setting or voice. Then I have a place to start. A novel that is character-driven is going to have a pitch that is character driven. For example, here’s the start of a pitch for Kim van Alkemade’s best-selling novel, Orphan Number Eight. “In 1919, Rachel Rabinowitz is a vivacious four-year-old living with her family in a crowded tenement on New York City’s Lower East Side. When tragedy strikes, Rachel is separated from her brother Sam and sent to a Jewish orphanage whee Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research.” This is a novel about a terrible decision Rachel has to make, and the pitch flags that the novel will focus on her character. By contrast, Ben Winters’ pitch for his novel, The Last Policeman, grabs you with his unusual plot (although his characters are also quite compelling): What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway? Detective Hank Palace has faced this question since asteroid 2011GV hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No […]

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Pitching

 This past weekend I worked at the New York Pitch Conference, which is always a fun/exhilarating/exhausting experience. I’m the workshop leader for the general fiction group, which includes women’s fiction, literary, upmarket and so on. One of the great perks of my job is that I get to listen to editors and hear what they’re looking for and one thing I heard a lot this time was how important it is to know very clearly who you are writing like, and, if at all possible, to try and make connections with that person. Or, as one person said, more or less, if you want to be the next Michael Chabon, you should try to go to his readings, meet readers who are interested in his work, and, if at all possible, get him to write a blurb for you.  That led me to think about how one of the nice things about the mystery writing community is that the writers are so accessible. At the most recent Malice Domestic, I chatted briefly with Louise Penny and Nancy Pickard, was on a panel with assorted great writers, was in an anthology with other assorted great writers and went to the bar and […]

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Pitching

This past weekend I was a workshop leader at the New York Pitch Conference. I’m in charge of the women’s fiction/literary fiction/memoir group, so I get to hear many wonderful stories. Many that I hope to read in book form at some point or another. I am continually awed by the diversity of stories out there. Just in my group there were people from India and Ghana and Lebanon and England. Professors and Ph.Ds. People who’ve survived some terrible things and others who’ve survived Hollywood. People who seem very polished and people who are scribbling notes on bits of paper. Mothers and daughters and some really odd people. It’s also fascinating to me how individual this publishing business is. Every editor reacts to each pitch in a different way. The very same pitch will be met with enthusiasm from one editor and blank indifference from another. They like for you to have a large social media presence. They like to know you’ve worked hard on your story–whether by studying writing or having pieces workshopped by beta readers. They like for you to have good comps. They like all these things unless they don’t really care because they like your story so much. […]

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Book Promotion = More Writing

When I’m working on a novel, I write everyday. When I am promoting a book, it feels as though I’m writing every minute.  Why am I spending more time tapping away on a keyboard after finishing my latest novel than I did when I was working on it? In two words…guest blogging. For a debut or little-known author, guest blogging is a key tool in getting the name of your book out there. Sure, we mystery writers are all hoping that stellar reviews will sell our work (and they do). But unless you’re fortunate enough to have landed national press through your publisher, few people will visit your Amazon page to read any of that glowing critical praise. Folks need to either hear about your novel from a friend or read about it on a site that they regularly visit. In the month since The Widower’s Wife came out I’ve written: 2 posts for Booktrib.com (One story has yet to be published. Here’s the story that ran:How I Made Two Cinematic Book Trailers Each For Less Than $500) 1 post for Jungle Red Writers on why a horrible cruise inspired me to write my last novel. It’s scheduled to run on September 21.  1 post on How I Got My Agent […]

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Pitch Not-So-Perfect

             I tell long stories. Shortening them has always been a struggle.            From the time I was a child, I’d go on and on with details, trying to give a sense of place and character, while my overworked parents begged for the bare facts. Later, I became a newspaper reporter and the scourge of copy editors. Daily, I’d beg for another inch of newsprint to include a detail that I felt crucial to my story as the higher ups dismissed my pleas as trying to include needless, scene-setting “color.” Things weren’t much better when I moved to writing for business magazines. Serious people, I was told, didn’t want to know that some tech giant had twenty kinds of cereal in their cupboards. Such “fascinating” details were superfluous.            Eventually, I left daily journalism for fiction writing. Doing so felt like moving from a cramped New York city studio to a New Jersey McMansion. I was loaded with space. Finally, I would have eighty to a hundred thousand words to tell a story.           Imagine my disappointment when I learned that nearly every long-form writer needs to pen a pitch.            Pitches are the universe’s way of checking my ego. All the pride I feel […]

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