Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Promotion: Making a "Pitch"

by Vivian Zabel 

         Someone asked me to share some promotion ideas, which I've been doing for the past couple of months. This issue will concern making a pitch. A pitch in the book world is a quick presentation of your book to an agent, a publisher, an editor, or a group. This can also apply to illustrators "pitching" their portfolios to agents, editors, groups, or publishers.
         The suggestions below can be adjusted for different time limits, but the basis is for a three minute pitch.

Making a 3 minute book pitch

         I had an appointment with an agent, and as I prepared for that few minutes to “pitch” my book in a way that she would want to know more, to read it, maybe to represent it, I wrote notes and practiced my speech so that it flowed smoothly but still seemed spontaneous.
         Knowing how to prepare and present a three-minute pitch should be a tool in an author’s selling kit, to be used for agents, editors, and public presentations. If a writer has more than three minutes, everything can be adjusted accordingly.

1. Start with an attention-grabber. This is a must. If you lose the audience, whether one person or 100, at the beginning, you can’t get them back. Just as the first paragraph in a story, article, or novel must attract the reader, the first words out of your mouth must do the same.

         I started my spiel with the statement: “When life steals something important from a person, she either gives up and dies, or she finds a way to rebuild her life.”

2. Don’t give a complete summary of your book. Give just enough information that the audience/agent/publisher/editor wants to know more.

         I continued my pitch by saying, “Torri had things stolen from her life over and over including her marriage destroyed by an unfaithful husband and her best friend by cancer. Each time she gathered her courage and rebuilt her life. However, when her children are taken by their biological father and not found, she didn’t know if she could continue.”

         I gave a bit more information from the book when the agent asked for more. For an agent or editor, the ending for the book may be required. For a presentation to a group, the ending should not be revealed. Also if presenting to a group and more than three minutes should be used, read a portion of your book to create interest.

3. If asked, be prepared to tell why you wrote the book – be sincere and know who the intended readers are.

4. Rehearse so that you don’t ramble. You don’t want your speech to sound memorized, but you need to know the main points and the order in which to present them. I always had a small file card with a brief outline only. With practice, I seldom have to refer to the card, but it's there if I need it.

5. If the book is already released (which if the pitch is meant for an agent or editor, it will not be), be sure to let the audience know where and how they can buy your book.

6. If the presentation is for a group after the book is released, be sure to take copies of the book to sell and autograph.

         Be prepared for any questions from the agent, publisher, or audience.

Please do visit the 4RV website and 4RV catalog.


  1. When I took pitches at a conference, most of the writers trying to interest me in their work had no idea what to do.