Author’s Corner: Why Does Your Book Pitch Matter?

Why Does Your Book Pitch Matter?

When it comes to trying to sell your book, there’s a lot of noise out there.

As a writer, I find I’m always listening to other people’s conversations. Don’t get me wrong … I don’t do it to eavesdrop … it’s just a habit I developed to help me understand how people really talk to each other. It’s enormously helpful when crafting realistic dialogue.

I was at a writers’ conference, when something I overheard really struck me. While standing in the registration line, I heard one of the attendees ask another, “You’ve published a book? Super! What’s it about?” The question wasn’t directed at me, but I have to admit I was looking forward to the answer.

Unfortunately, the author responded with a long, rambling, hard-to-follow discourse that demonstrated an utter lack of understanding about what he really needed to do … quickly get across the premise of what his book will deliver.

I walked away (so did the questioner), certain I no longer cared.

The experience really made me think. As an indie author, you will be asked many times what your book is about. Will your answer draw people in, make them curious, and let them know right away whether it’s something they might be interested in reading?

Or will it make them walk away?

What Should It Be About?

Herron sits at a table with his books displayed

Author R.L. Herron

In the business world a brief, persuasive sales speech is called an elevator pitch (a good one lasts no longer than a short elevator ride, hence the name).

Consider the information that must be delivered in mere seconds and you can see why crafting a great pitch is a bit of an art form. You need to be able, in 30 seconds or less, to explain why your book stands out from the crowd.

I was in the advertising business for a long time and our most creative minds spent endless hours focusing on the “promise” of a product. Most of the effort was to describe the product’s emotional payoff rather than its efficacy.

In other words, sell the sizzle, not the steak.

In a very short space of time, you need to give a good idea of the genre, the book’s main hook, your qualifications, comparable books, and why yours is different or exciting. It’s a lot to talk about, so once you have some idea of what to include, write it down.

Then condense that information and choose the points you think will best help you sell your book in the shortest amount of time. Go over your pitch until you’ve tailored it to pique your audience’s attention. It’s not easy.

I remember a quote attributed to German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He wrote a letter to a friend that started: “I’m sorry to send you such a long letter. I didn’t have time to send you a short one.”

I don’t mention it to be funny.

Just as Goethe was implying with his letter, it’s a challenge to create a summary that highlights exactly why your work would be of interest and combines it with clear benefits for the reader.

Remember It’s a Conversation

Although essentially a sales pitch, you can’t afford to come across like an overzealous used-car dealer. Communicate your ideas clearly and concisely, focusing on your passion for the story.

Crafting and perfecting an elevator pitch gives you a valuable resource for those times when you have to flip a switch and promote your book in the quickest, most efficient way possible.

Also, be aware of your body language, because it sometimes speaks louder than your words. To look comfortable is to be comfortable … and try not to sound too rehearsed.

When that stranger asks, “So, what’s your book about?” you have your opening … and you’re ready to go for it. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t forget to smile – you’re a published author and you’re proud of your work.

About R.L. Herron

R.L. Herron, the author of multiple works of fiction, including several Readers' Favorite medal winners, lives and writes in Michigan with his lovely wife, an ugly mortgage, and one extremely large cat. His books are all available on Amazon and online with Barnes & Noble. Visit Author R.L. Herron's Website, Broken Glass.

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