Most book covers sport blubs or endorsements designed to be sales tips and summaries. People read them and decide whether or not to check out the book or purchase it. It’s dicey, this business of writing an affirmation of an author’s book or coming up with a logline or blurb for one’s own work. It takes skill, brevity, fairness, and salesmanship.
I credit a helpful article about how to write a pitch written Dr. Dennis E. Henslee that appeared in the November/December 2009, issue “Christian Communicator.” While clearing my library, the article caught my eye so I stopped to read it. Henslee explains “the elevator pitch,” “the speed-dating pitch,” and “the appointment pitch.”
The elevator pitch is one where the author has about fifteen seconds to “sell” his book or play. The process requires one or two sentences, so those sentences have to be clear, original, and vivid. The speed -dating pitch is designed for conferences, where an author has an appointment to talk with an agent or editor for three to five minutes. The agent has a list of authors who have made appointments, and so if a person happens to be number seven, for instance, his or her “pitch” better be memorable. At the end of the appointment, “a light flashes or a buzzer sounds, and that writer has to evacuate the seat and make way for the next person. The agent or editor will have said, ‘Sorry, not interested, ‘or ‘okay, leave your proposal with me.’ It’s that cut and dried. “This sort of pitch requires about two good paragraphs.
Henslee gives an example. Hello, I’m Tom Clancy, and my novel is titled The Hunt for Red October. It’s about a Russian submarine captain who defects to America and brings a fully armed nuclear submarine with him. From those two sentences, the editor knows”who you are, what your book is called, and why it’s different from anything he’s ever heard before.”
The appointment pitch is for 15-20 minutes and sometimes there is a fee involved. Here Henslee advises what NOT to do. Don’t take up the first five minutes chit-chatting about the weather or the publishing business in general. “This is not a visit, but a discussion. A pitch. “The editor is looking for a marketable product, and the author is hoping to sell one.” It’s business.
In subsequent blogs, I am going to write “pitches” for some of my books and plays. Consider them tests and exercises. Some may work and some may not. Here is one attempt in two sentences.
Hello, my name is Rachel Roberts and my collection of twelve short stores is titled Tacking Forward. It’s about women who have to adjust as their children make lives for themselves, who in spite of end of life challenges pursue their projects with humor and faith, and who accept life at any stage as an adventure.
I am not completely satisfied with this pitch so will continue to work with it. That’s what writers do. They constantly continue to change or add a word or capture a thought or scene with a tweak or two.