"So tell me what your book is about!"
OK, I thought. I can handle this. I have a pitch written. I actually have a great logline that I crafted with the help of my writing group! So I took a deep breath, got the first eight or so words out, then promptly lost my train of thought.
Apparently, those pitches are no good whatsoever unless you actually, uhm, remember them.
Fortunately, my friend is awesome. More importantly than that, she gets books. And she loves them. She let me start over again, and stumble here and there, until I hit my stride. Then she told me it sounded really interesting, and I could have squeezed her, because I don't think people realize how hard it is sometimes for writers to explain their concepts to others.
But the point of this story is this: You need to have a pitch/logline ready ALL.THE.TIME. Because you won't just be asked what your book is about by agents and editors. You might never go to a writing conference in your life (why not? Can't afford it?? Go to WriteOnCon! It's free and online!). But as long as you are writing a book, you will always have people asking you what your book is about. Maybe people will ask you while you're on the subway, or at work, or while you're sitting next to a stranger on an airplane. And if you can't answer them in 20 seconds or less, you'll probably lose them.
Not sure how to craft a great one-sentence pitch? Here are some awesome resources to get you started (though the thing that helped me most was brainstorming with writer friends, so if you have some of those, turn to them! And if you don't....well, I'm a writer, and I'd like to be your friend! Feel free to email me :) )
- Literary agent Rachelle Gardener had this great post on how to pitch. Then, she held a one-sentence pitch contest, after which she posted the winners and critiqued some of the entries. The posts from the pitch contest are probably the most informative posts on one-sentence pitches I have ever seen.
- Nathan Bransford talks hooks.
- Elana Johnson talks hooks, in her awesome series on creating a winning query.