By Jennifer S. Wilkov, “Your Book Is Your Hook!”
Radio Show Host | Book Consultant | Literary Agent Matchmaker™ | Bestselling Author
You have to start somewhere, so the saying goes.
When pitching your project to the publishing world, there’s no difference: you have to start somewhere and do the best you can. That said, oftentimes one’s first efforts tend to require much patience and a bunch of tweaking.
Pitching is akin to performing. When one auditions as an actor for the very first time, some step right up with an instinct for it and others, well, need more information, guidance, direction and practice.
Too often pitches prepared by authors are not compelling. Agents rub their hands together in anticipation of finding one or two gems amidst their batches of 100 queries or so that they read at a time. That’s a pretty high percentage of projects that find their place not on track to get published but rather amidst the rest of the pitches that pooped out.
It’s easy to clean up the “poop” factor in your pitches. Here are some important considerations when evaluating and cleaning up yours:
1) Be concise.
If you read a query letter that is lengthy, wordy and that’s not engaging you in a story you can follow, would you really bet your income on it? Most agents won’t.
Admittedly, for many authors, it’s much easier to write a 300-page novel or a 200-page nonfiction book than it is to put together a one-page query letter.
The challenge facing most writers is: don’t poop on the agents. Long-winded, windy query letters that are not focused on the story and project you have are not worth the time you’re asking an agent to spend on making your dream of getting published a reality.
2) Be confident.
I ask you to consider the following and walk a mile in an agent’s shoes: if one person pitched you their project, business or concept and they waffled about whether it was any good and the second person pitched you theirs with passion, pride and joy, which person would you want to work with?
Too often, I hear of writers waiting for agents and others in the industry to tell them whether what they have written is any good. I’m not suggesting that you be pompous about what you’ve written or overtly confident; however, I’m also not inclined to work with those who don’t exude a sense of pride and joy about the work they’re putting forth.
I have met writers who have captivated me because of their story and the desire they have to tell it. What makes their approach compelling is this inherent appetite for success, their willingness to listen and the knowing that they’re going to make it. For them, it’s simply a matter of time because they’re willing to adjust, correct and submit their best work. However, there’s no question in their minds that their story is worth telling.
Remember: Confidence is contagious. It’s catchy like the wave in the football stadium stands: your agent will stand up and cheer and pass on his or her enthusiasm to a publisher…but the spark begins with you. You must stand up and cheer for your work and book first before the rest of the fans will follow.
One more item to note: Lack of confidence is contagious too, especially when it comes to your book.
3) Be clear.
When your query letter includes references to characters, situations and circumstances that require an agent to read your entire book first in order to understand the plot, you’re likely to be rejected because the storyline itself isn’t clear.
When your nonfiction query is all about you and not about the story you have tell or the premise of the book, pontificating about yourself is not what’s going to sell your story. The clarity of the book’s purpose will.
Clarity is captured in the clever way you entice an agent’s interest in wanting to know more about your project. Step them into the world you’ve created for your book. Don’t dump them into the deep end of it without first gently dipping their toe into the overview of the story.
During the next week, we will step through the process of cleaning up the poop in your pitch, help you craft some terrific hooks for your book and clarify your approach to making a confident, concise pitch.
Several ingredients are required for making a great pitch and throughout this week’s activities and exercises, you will become much more aware of what these are and how to develop this essential skill set.
I look forward to working with you this week.
If you’d like to listen to one literary agent’s opinion about the perfect pitch, CLICK HERE for access to interviews I’ve done with Katharine Sands of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, and the agent provocateur of Making The Perfect Pitch: How to Catch A Literary Agent’s Eye on my popular radio show, “Your Book Is Your Hook!”
Jennifer S. Wilkov: Jennifer S. Wilkov is a best-selling, award-winning author, an award-winning freelance writer, a speaker and trainer, and a Literary Agent Matchmaker™ who focuses on supporting writers with the essentials to become a bestseller: a great project, a strong platform and a well-polished pitch, presentation and hook for their book.
She is also a recognized media spokesperson for Project Night Night, a non-profit organization that delivers Night Night packages to homeless children in shelters across the nation which include a children's book, a stuffed animal and a blanket, and Heifer International's Read to Feed Program which helps children in schools to understand that they can make a difference for others by reading.
Your Book Is Your Hook! is her full service consulting practice that serves authors, writers and wannabes as well as the entire book publishing industry with its endeavors. Best known for its popular weekly radio show, robust resource blog, trainings and advice including the new uniquely positioned service as a Literary Agent Matchmaker™.
Through the popular radio show named after her practice, "Your Book Is Your Hook!", which can be heard every Tuesday morning at 9:00am on WomensRadio.com and the accompanying show blog at YourBookIsYourHook.com/blog, Jennifer S. Wilkov brings her experience and knowledge of the book business and the people in it as well as her understanding of the author’s experience from conceiving the idea to getting it published to her loyal listeners each week.