Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So, What's Your Book About? (Or, Why You Need a PITCH)

On Saturday night I was chatting with a friend about my book. (THAT'S RIGHT NICOLE, I'M MENTIONING YOU AGAIN! Twice in a row, aren't you lucky!) This friend is not a writer, an agent, an editor, or anything like that. She's a part-time bartender and (way, way more importantly) MLS student who also works at the library (and is loving her time in the children's/teen's section, much to my enjoyment.) So I have to admit I was totally blindsided when she asked me, ever-so-innocently,

"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 :) )
And REMEMBER!!! Once you create the hook...be sure to remember it. That's kind of maybe a little bit slightly important.


  1. I was just thinking about this, actually. Some random dude at my family party (he was not family...I honestly don't know where he came from) this weekend asked me what my book was about, since my mom was bragging and telling everyone I was writing a book. (I think because she didn't have grandkids to talk about, but that's another story.)


    It took me like 7 entire minutes to tell this guy what my book was about. I REALLY need to fix that before SCBWI.

  2. That is a very good point. It's good to have that pitch memorized. Though, the way I explain a novel to a writer or agent/editor is a little different than what I'd tell my family. My grandma and stepdad ask about my books and I know I have more than a sentence to explain it but I can't use writing tech words. I can do it short enough for them without going into too much detail and so that works for me.

    I'm a bit weird though. I kinda like writing pitches, even if I haven't gotten to use them yet.

  3. pitching...


    GREAT post!

  4. i have this problem too. I have a pitch, but i really need to work on it more...

  5. the other night at dinner my husband said "so what's your book about, anyway?" and I just stared at him blankly for a minute then rambled off a bunch of details. If anything, that made me realize I need to practice getting out all the stuff that's in my brain in an organized manner.

  6. I hate talking about my books, and I think this is why. I know what my book is about, but it's so huge, I don't know how to explain it to another human being and make it as great as I feel like it is.

    I'm going to start working on my pitch now. Thanks!

  7. Haha, so true. I actually just drafted a post for later this week about how the fabulous Jennifer Weiner asked ME what my book was about at her book signing and I was all starstruck and like ummm, well you see, it's about high school. Yep, it was really awesome and I made a fool of myself ;) I'll know better next time


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