How to Pitch a Book

Bragging about yourself can be hard. Bragging about your writing tends to be even harder. Yet that is what a book pitch needs! While we’ve found that many authors short sell their work, there is often one shift in thinking that will help tremendously when writing a book pitch. The secret? Audience!

Contrary to popular belief, a book pitch is not, actually, about your book. It’s a sales pitch. You’ve got ten seconds to hook your reader—whether he or she is an actual reader, an agent, or a publisher. You’ve got one shot to lure that person in. Now do you see how a short recap of your plot simply won’t work?

As you approach your pitch, put yourself in the audience’s shoes and ask two questions:

  1. Why should I read this and/or buy this?
  2. How will this help me as a reader?

Once you are able to answer those questions, build your pitch in three parts:

  1. The Hook: Think concise and simple. Questions work well.
  2. The Payoff: Summarize the value to the reader. Note that the voice should match audience expectations of the wider text (scholarly, sentimental, confident, etc.).
  3. The Wrap-Up: Point out the value on a broader scale here. What does this book contribute? Why is this story powerful?

It all comes back to audience. If you don’t know your audience, you’re not going to write a good sales pitch. If you still have a rough time finding the core of your message, try describing in a single sentence what the book is about and why it matters.

Homework:

  • Peruse a bookstore or Amazon and read the existing copy for a book you’ve already read. See whether that copy accurately reflects the audience and the book. If so, make a list of tips. If not, try rewriting the copy yourself.
  • Write Twitter pitches for your favorite books. What can you capture in 140 characters? Use #inkblotpitch so we can follow along!