After three days of intense workshops, lectures, practicing the pitch and several read and critiques with agents, editors and PR pros, I noticed how all workshop leaders kept asking the same three important questions: “Why is your book unique? “Why would anyone want to read it?” and “Who is your target audience?” These may sound like straightforward questions, but so many writers struggle with concise answers.
Throw in a dynamite pitch and a 25 word synopsis which you can WOW agents and editors with, and if you already have that,you’re ahead of the game. Please share your pitch and/or synopsis in the comments section of my blog, if you have one you’d like to share.
One speaker said, “if you’re having trouble writing a synopsis, you can always ask friends what do you think my book is about? and don’t argue with them.”
With 440,000 new books published in 2008, competition is very stiff, and you better know who you are–your platform– and why the public will read your book.
Antoinette Kuritz, the founder of the La Jolla Writers conference, offered great advice on effective PR. “Books have a shelf like somewhere between yogurt and milk,” which suggests the importance of starting your marketing plan and PR strategies about a year or so before your book comes out.
I think most writers would like to increase the shelf life of their book to ultra-pasteurized long-life milk.
Another tip they offered is to write articles on your topic and query magazines before your book is published. Include the article with your query, to save time waiting. I’m throwing in a mish-mash of tips, but I found this one interesting. If you’re going to be interviewed for radio, stand up with your phone and walk around as your voice will come across with more expression and enthusiasm than if you sit down.
Three New York Times Bestselling authors: Jane Green, Eileen Goudge and Lisa Gardner, were not only keynote speakers, but also offered private read and critique sessions to writers. I had a wonderful chat with Jane Green after her lecture. She is such a sweet, down-to-earth lady, and shared some photos on her iPhone that she took during her interview with Hugh Grant and Harrison Ford.
I had two agent read and critiques. Both of them said they liked my story, and one in particular mentioned she found my European upbringing and parenting methods, merged with life in Orange County, and moving to another culture in Belize, very interesting in the layers and sub-themes it offers. She gave me four months to submit the manuscript. Even if nothing comes from this “experiment,” I now have another goal which will force me to write a book proposal. This means a TON of work, especially around the holiday season.
Please share if you’ve written a book proposal. How painful was it? Apparently fiction writers are also encouraged to write a book proposal to develop a marketing and sales plan they can show publishers.
Let’s not forget that although writers see the creative element, publishers are only interested in sales.