And the Pitch Goes On

When I hear someone talking about giving a pitch, I think they mean they’re going to pitch a story to an agent or editor. However, last Saturday I attended a meeting for a start-up Sisters-in-Crime chapter where the program was to be “Pitches,” and discovered what we’d be doing is “Pitching” our books to the other members.

Thank goodness, since this was my first time in attendance, I brought my four mysteries with me. (Just in case someone wanted to see them.) I also lucked out by being one of the last ones to give a “pitch.” That allowed me to hear how others did it. In truth, pitching to other writers isn’t that different from pitching to an agent or editor.

Actually, we are always giving pitches. Every time someone asks, “What is your book about?” we give a pitch. Every time we contact a book store to see if they’ll handle our books, we’re giving a pitch. Every time we post a book announcement on Facebook, put the cover and a quick summary on Pinterest, or write a tweet asking others to check the book out, we’re giving a pitch.

One thing I learned last Saturday is I need to work on my pitches. I need to write down the really important features of each story, the aspects that would appeal to my audience. I say “appeal to my audience” because a one-size-fits-all really doesn’t work.

Each audience needs to be thought of as an individual.

You need to consider what would appeal to this person/this group? For example: A Killer Past has a 74-year-old protagonist. If I’m talking to a group of teenagers, I might say something like, “My bet is Mary Harrington isn’t like any of your grandmothers. But then again, her 18-year-old granddaughter had no idea her sweet grandmother could put two gang members in the hospital. In fact, there’s a lot about grandma that no one knows, and…”

When I pitch that book to older readers, I might say something like, “In the small town of Rivershore, Michigan, no one knows about Mary Harrington’s past, not even her family. Everyone sees the 74-year-old woman as a sweet widow whose only oddity is she likes to work out at the gym. But when Mary puts two gang members in the hospital…”

Even tweets should be mini pitches: @marisSouthHaven Muggers beware. Not all 74-yr-old grandmothers are easy targets. Some have A Killer Past


2 gang members attack a 74-yr-old widow and end up in the hospital Will her secret get out? #A Killer Past

In Pinterest, along with the cover, there’s room for a short description. Take your time and write it well because again, you’re pitching the book.

And the pitch goes on and on.

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16 Responses to And the Pitch Goes On

  1. Never stop learning from published authors.

    • Maris Soule says:

      And published authors never stop learning, especially nowadays with all of the changes that have and are occuring in the publishing world. Thanks for your comment, Rohn.

  2. Rhonda says:

    Great post! Lots of very useful information for someone like me who is new to the writing world.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thank you, Rhonda. I’m glad you found the information useful. We were all new to the writing world at one time or another, so good luck. Keep at it.

  3. I’m not great at pitching and so I found your blog of particular interest. I guess you’ve got to sell yourself first to sell readers on your work.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Jacqueline, I hate pitching a book. I want to tell people, “Just read it.” But, of course, they won’t do that unless I find a way to make them think they’ll enjoy reading it.

  4. Great post. This gives us all something to think about. Thanks

  5. Lucy Kubash says:

    I’ve always found pitching a book difficult but I like the idea of keeping your audience in mind. It does make a difference in how you slant the pitch, and I guess I should practice pitching for the day I finally finish the book I’m now writing, in case I have the opportunity to pitch to an editor!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Lucy, you might keep a note pad and at the end of each day that you’ve been working on the book, write a short summary (pitch). The plot will be fresh in your mind at that moment and might help you come up with a new angle. Later, when you’ve finished the book, you can look back at the “pitches” you wrote and with a little editing, you’ll probably come up with some good ones.

  6. Melissa Keir says:

    Very cool way to use pitches. Now it’s clearer! Thanks!

  7. Ann Bennett says:

    What a hard lesson in life, consider the audience. I was a slow learner at times. This applies to so many things in life and more than pitching a book. Now for me to keep it into practice.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Ann, I have a feeling you’re being hard on yourself, but yes, whether we’re talking about pitches or conversations in general, we do need to consider the audience. If not, they usually get a glazed look to their eyes and their minds drift elsewhere.

  8. Steven Kuehn says:

    Excellent post! It should be mandatory reading for all new authors. I recently had a similar issue that demonstrated how important it is to have your pitch polished and ready. I met a new person through our writer’s group, and they asked for a summary of my upcoming novel. I was caught totally off-guard, as everyone else in my group already knew all about the book. I struggled through it, but it was not as polished as it should have been. Since then, I’ve written several different versions of my pitch/summary, and read each of them out loud every few days, just to stay current. Great blog, Maris, thank you!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thank you, Steven. Thank goodness I spent most of last summer talking about the books I had with me Saturday, otherwise I would have been caught totally off guard. But even so, I don’t think I gave my best presentation. As you suggested, a review of the pitch from time to time is a good idea.