The May edition of the Building a Book series was “The Big Windup: Prepping Your Pitch, Proposal, and Synopsis and How to Decide Between Traditional & Non-traditional Publishing” with editor Lari Bishop and novelist Rhiannon Frater.
As a writer, the windup for your pitch is about content and platform.
Lari said a book sells well because content is compelling, marketable and memorable and people are talking about it. She noted that we are moving into nice time for writers, with untold options for getting content out there. An online platform can include a blog, a website, Facebook, Twitter or e-publishing, things the author drives. Traditional publishers want to see a platform. Non-traditional publishing is even more dependent on author-driven publicity. Writers must make an effort to connect with their potential fan base in any way they can. Today platform is everything and makes all the difference.
Rhiannon generated her content and platform at the same time, publishing story on her blog for fun, interacting with fans along the way. It became a novel.
Just as today’s baseball pitchers have more training technology available than their predecessors, modern writers can also access advanced technology to engage fans and improve their delivery. (And it’s all legal, unlike certain performance enhancers in baseball.)
Not all pitchers windup to pitch in the same way. Windup techniques vary, but the pitch still needs to land in the strike zone, regardless of how it gets there. The basic principles of a solid pitch remain the same. Lari and R gave these pointers about delivering a winning pitch:
- Capture the reader in first sentence & paragraph
- Is the book compelling and marketable?
o Does it solve a new problem? Have a new angle? A new solution? An intriguing theory?
o Does it touch on something powerful (emotional) for the core audience?
- Put all the power of story in 3 sentences.
- Create and practice an elevator pitch (a short synopsis)
- Think of book as a movie. What is it like? R pitched one of her book as “Goonies meets Dawn of the Dead.”
- Think of the beginning, middle & end of the book. What bridges the pieces? How does that affect what happens next? That produces about three paragraphs.
- Don’t withhold the ending!
Thankfully, it’s not three strikes and you’re out for writers. So keep trying.
(Want step by step details about publishing? Rhiannon graciously wrote detailed advice about getting published on her blog. Stop by and leave her a comment.)
Major League, Minor League or Recreational League?
As you consider your windup and pitch, think about your writing goals.
Where do you want to play? Are you content to play catch in the backyard with friends and family, publishing simply for their enjoyment? Do you want to explore the minor leagues of self-publishing, print on demand (POD), eBooks (Amazon, Kindle or PDF)? Maybe you want to give the major leagues a shot and try to earn a living from writing.
As Rhiannon proved, there’s no secret path to publishing. Thanks to advances in technology, writers have more options than ever for publication. Knowing the differences between types of publishing can help writers decide on their goals. Lari shared a quick overview of five publishing models: traditional, vanity, self, ebook and POD, and independent.
What you do with your writing depends on what will make you happy and how much effort you can put into it. You must decide how much time is available to invest in marketing and writing.
Whether you’re looking to develop your windup, your pitch or simply trying to learn the game, remember to check out all the learning opportunities offered by the Writers’ League and join us for June’s Third Thursday program: “The Mating Game: How to Land an Agent.”
Lexie Smith is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information at LexicalLight.com, BloggingForWriters.com and 64mascots.com. A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until recently, homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.