While I was at the Northwest Christian Writers' Renewal a week ago or so, I was struck, as I always am when in the company of writers, by the power of the right word used in the right way. On the first day of the conference, I had group meetings with the writers. This is where a group of writers come in, sit at a table together, and each takes a turn pitching his/her book to me to see if B & H Publishing Group would be interested in considering it for publication. I had six groups, each lasting a half hour, each with anywhere from 5-7 people each. So folks had a total of 3-5 minutes to engage me in their project.
How's that for pressure?
The cool thing is, a good number of those who came had such a strong understanding of their project, and of the market, that they were able to hook me in the first few words. Now that's doing your homework! For example, one woman told me right off the bat her book was romantic suspense, what the main story line was (in a sentence), and what the conflict and spiritual takeaway were. That took about 45 seconds of her 4 minutes, so from there I asked questions about the story and focus and she was able to relax and just talk. I ended up asking her to send me the proposal. Don't know if we'll pursue it--the writing is what tips the scales, of course. But I was impressed with her well chosen descriptions. And if I'm considering two manuscripts and all things are basically equal, I'll always go with an author who is, first and foremost, teachable, and then able to communicate the heart and soul of her story quickly and effectively.
So if you're a writer, spend some time thinking about the following:
What's the main theme (or themes) addressed in my story.
What's the nonfiction hook I could use to stir interest in media outlest (e.g. radio, where they generally don't have a clue what to do with novelists)
What genre is my book? Are there any best-sellers or movies that I can compare my book to that will position it quickly for ________ (fill in the blank. E.g., editor, reader, marketer, interviewer, retailer, reviewer)? For example, my book is Die Hard, Live Free meets Nancy Drew. (Okay, not a perfect example, but you get what I mean.)
Can I describe my book in:
* one sentence
(At different stages in the process of seeking publication, you'll need to be able to do all of the above!)
That's enough to get you started. So hey, go for it! And if you want to try and pitch something to me here as a test, feel free. I'll let you know what I think.
Peace to you today.