This month at WriteOnSisters we’re talking about pitching! A pitch comes in many forms – query, synopsis, one-liner, or book blurb. Anything that “sells” your book to anyone else is a pitch. Usually pitches are written after a novel is complete, because that’s when a writer needs to “sell” their novel to an agent or a publisher or directly to the masses via self-publishing. However, I’m going to encourage you to use pitches differently…
As story development tools.
Yes, I’m suggesting we write those dreaded pitches before and during the novel writing process. I’ll give you three reasons why…
#1 – To test the Story Premise.
It’s common screenwriting advice to write a logline (aka a one-line pitch) before writing the first draft as a test to make sure you have the basic story premise down (PROTAGONIST + PROBLEM + GOAL) and to confirm these elements connect. Read How To Write A Logline for more on that.
Other benefits of writing a one-line pitch? When people ask what you’re writing, you have a concise, catchy answer for them!
#2 – To see things from an Agent/Publisher’s Perspective.
A synopsis or query (aka a paragraph or one-page pitch) includes the story’s major plot points. Once you’ve done some story development (for plotters that can be a beat sheet or outline; for pantsers that’s the rough first draft), write a test query letter to put yourself in the mindset of an agent or publisher. Now, from a publishing professional’s perspective, does this synopsis make sense or are there plot holes? Does it intrigue or confuse? Does it sound original or generic? Would it stand out from the thousands of other queries received? Be honest. The reason you’re doing this now is so you can make changes to your WIP long before you’re at the submission stage. Because by that time, well, it’s a little late.
#3 – To clarify the Hook.
A book blurb is a pitch to the reader that leads with the “hook” that gets them to buy your book. This is a little different than a synopsis in that a blurb doesn’t include spoilers like plot twists or the ending. And because those things are omitted, it forces you to see if you can sell the story without revealing that amazing twist. Because you have to! If you can’t, that’s a sign you need to come up with a proper hook. Also, finding and defining the book’s hook helps locate structural issues, like too much set up. I blogged about that in this post: What Book Jackets Teach About A Story’s Hook.
So even if you’re not near the official agent/publisher pitching stage, I’ve just given you three reasons to stay tuned this month as we blog about all things pitching, including query letters, the elevator pitch, and the increasingly popular Twitter pitch.
Do any of you write pitches before or during your writing process?