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« Lesson 7: Kickstart Your Brain: 9 Approaches to Finding the Right Words for Your Book Pitch (part 2) | Main | Lesson 5: The Pitch Begins With Premise »
Friday
Jan072011

Lesson 6: Kickstart Your Brain: 9 Approaches to Finding the Right Words for your Book Pitch (part 1)

**This Lesson is part of the January series “30 Pitch Lessons – 30 Days.”  Pitch University Pitchfest weeks and Expert-In-Residence weeks kick off the 1st full week in February.**

Pitch U "Kickstart This Article" Mini-Course:  

At Pitch University, we bring you a wide range of experts (who actually have made their living from various aspects related to pitching), in order to give you real-world insights and help you build the skills to talk with Literary Agents, Editors, and Readers.

In order to get the most from today's article, you need to understand that in the world of The Sales Pitch, you are either selling a product or a service.  

* Products are real things that you can see (like a book). 

* Services are invisible things that have value, depend on building relationships with the buyer, and translate to a "benefit."

If you write books, you are selling both a product AND a service.

You, fellow author, are selling your physical book (product) and your ability (service) to make revisions, complete the manuscript under deadline, and become an author with a career (that your publisher wants to invest in).

So here's the beauty of understanding this....  It doesn't matter what product (music CD) or service (employee career search) you're selling, if you're selling in person, you're using a PITCH.  And this article applies directly to you.  ~~ Enjoy!~~

 

Today, Pitch U welcomes Kathryn Lorenzen, Creativity Coach and Career Coach.  She has spent a life-time pitching her own creative works (as a singer/songwriter) and those of others.  

And best of all, she knows from both sides of the fence how tied-in-knots we creatives get because we care so much and want to succeed.  

Her deep understanding of the tangles, thorns, and wicked potholes that are part of the writer's journey makes her scary good at dealing with blocks when everything else has failed.  Simply put, she's your muse's secret weapon. 

Lesson 6: Kickstart Your Brain: 9 Approaches to Finding the Right Words for your Book Pitch (part 1)

Greetings to this wonderful new community, and a special hello to my writer friends! I’m thrilled to be invited to add to the content of Pitch-U from my vantage point as a creativity and career coach.

Because this is a community of writers, we’re especially attuned to the peculiar magic and power of words. But, we may not always remain aware of this power in the context of our pitch. A single word can captivate our listener with enormous connection, or it can turn her off just as quickly.

I spend a lot of time with my career coaching clients on their elevator pitches – for example, artists looking for contract work or copywriters seeking a full-time job. In every case, we spend a big block of time considering the many ways to boil down and express a single point, and the plusses and minuses of each word choice. This will be similar to the process you’ll go through.

It might seem like an imbalance – hours of thought and effort spent on something that  will take you 30-45 seconds to say, when in that same time you could perhaps write a whole chapter! But really, this is a pretty huge gift to give yourself, to slow down and craft your core pitch.

An Elevator Pitch In Action

Here’s the latest example of how I facilitated a client to “amp up”  her elevator pitch for her job search. She is an accomplished operations professional with years of experience running customer call centers for major consumer brands. She also has a terrific track record of anticipating critical mass of customer issues and helping organizations to be ready with “just-in-time” solutions, saving several massive product launches from potential disaster. 

The original pitch: “I am an experienced customer call center manager, having managed groups of up to fifty individuals through telecommunications product launches. I’ve been responsible for communicating across a global matrixed management team and I excel at finding solutions to complex customer issues.

"My knowledge sets are in people and process management, particularly with technical products, and I’m looking for an opportunity to leverage these skills into a different consumer category, preferably the animal health industry.”

The new pitch: “For the past several years I’ve run customer call centers for product launches in the telecom industry. It turns out I’m like the Radar O’Reilly of customer solutions, as I’ve anticipated just-in-time fixes to customer problems and helped save several wireless product launches, most recently for _________.

"I’ve also raised horses for the last ten years, and that’s my passion, so now I’m ready to introduce myself into an animal health or animal pharmaceutical company that could use my skills in customer relations. Can you think of anyone I should be talking to?”

 

Now that you’ve seen the difference, let’s dive into some ways to approach finding the language of your pitch and the issues to consider.

#1 Play. Keep playing. Play some more.

If you can get used to the idea that you may not land on the perfect phrasing right away, and that it will be a work in progress, then you can give yourself permission to just stab away at it. Your pitch will be a living, breathing thing, just like the rest of your work.

Whatever is your method of play for your book, use it for your pitch. Is it notecards? Post-its on the wall? Audio notes to yourself? A new folder in your cloud tool of choice, like Evernote? A fresh new notebook just for working with your pitch? (Yes, now you know my weakness: new school supplies!)

#2 Practice. By yourself, with others, early and often.

Well, of course, that’s why we’re here. Let yourself off the hook for not being perfect. How great that we have a safe place to practice, right?

#3 Being timely and on-trend.

Since you’re pitching a story in a particular genre, you’re probably already doing a good job of keeping up with what the industry is looking for. It can also be helpful and informative to periodically check in with the professionals who identify and predict trends, like at www.trendwatching.com.

You may identify that there’s a description in your pitch that has to do with a key trend…such as “urban” rather than “city,” or perhaps one of your characters is a wealthy philanthropist, which plays into the trend of conspicuous charitable giving. Or, it’s possible you can get brand tie-in ideas here as well if your story is contemporary.

#4 Consider your emotional triggers.

There simply MUST be emotional triggers in the pitch for your story, and it’s a good idea to choose them deliberately. No way around it, they always carry risk. Your listener always brings the baggage of her own life to the perception of your pitch.

It’s a biological, neurological fact that both the primitive and more sophisticated parts of our brain literally light up to the emotional triggers of words, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively – you can’t control that. The trick is to be mindful in your choices and then the risks will be calculated.

For example, if your story is about a woman battling cancer, you may make a decision about whether to describe her situation as “cancer,” “severe health challenge,” or “terminal illness,” among other choices. The triggers for those options are very different, as well as how well they communicate the potential appeal or relevance of the story, and you could go through an exercise of mind-mapping or workshopping with others to explore the pros and cons of each.

 

--
To Be Continued in Part 2--

 Kathryn Lorenzen, CBC, Creativity Coach
 
Through many bands, national tours, songwriting awards (including Billboard Magazine) and two solo CDs (the first, Portfolio, available at 
cdbaby.com and iTunes; the second, Fallin’, to be released in 2011), Kathryn Lorenzen knows the joy and heartbreak of doing the work you love. 

Equally stressful and demanding, her 20-years in advertising as a writer/producer and media strategist for regional and national brands taught Kathryn how to produce on demand – headlines, copy, jingles, film scores. 

When she began to guide the careers of others, she became a credentialed career coach for creatives in the communication arts (training from the National Career Development Association). Kathryn has completed advanced training in creativity coaching through the Creativity Coaching Association, studying directly with Eric Maisel (author of Fearless Creating and many more). 


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Reader Comments (8)

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Use your real name. Agents, Editors, and Experts will be using their real names. Show up with yours. If your profile isn't your name, please sign your name in your comment.

Comments need to be...

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Free of Snark, Finger Pointing, and Personal Attack

This is a professional environment. Be professional. No one is fooled by the phrase, "I'm just being honest."

Agents and Editors will be viewing your comments. If you can't be kind toward your own fellow-writers, the thought is you'd make a pretty miserable client.

Don't be* that* writer.

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

I think the Trend Watching idea is genius! Thanks, Kathryn. :)

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Food for thought, Kathryn, and in the proverbial Nick of Time...:) Thank you!

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam

Thanks, Diane! I love trend watching, probably because I'm a pop culture marketing junkie. You might also enjoy www.faithpopcorn.com, and if you click on 2011 you can download her predictions for this year. She has an outstanding track record over the past 20-30 years for predicting major consumer/business trends.

Nice to see you here, William! So glad this was timely for you.

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn L.

Yes! Faith Popcorn! I remember when she made national news with her book The Popcorn Report. Of course, by then, she was already a well-regarded expert. :) Great recommendation.

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Bottom line is- don't forget to be creative and fun. After all, this is a part of your book that you know and love so your pitch should be something you know and love as well. I understand this is over simplifying things, but sometimes the most basic items prove to be the hardest. OK, now I feel like Obie Won (not sure of Jedi spelling Ha!)
I love the web site that you suggested!

January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Purcell

Hi, Stacey! I think your point about knowing and loving the pitch is the core, and thanks for restating that. We do forget that this is supposed to be fun, right?

Or, in Jedi... Something you know and love, your pitch should be.

Hope to see you soon!

January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn L.

well this blog is great i love reading your articles. yjkvpy yjkvpy - North Face Women.

December 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdpbzmm dpbzmm

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