Some thoughts on my recent trip to Las Vegas to attend Author101 University where I am a panelist and participate in the morning “meet and greet” sessions where writers have one-on-one meetings to discuss and “pitch” their work. I met with twenty writers over the course of my stay, and was impressed by their serious and focused approach to their own material. Part of my work is to help them prepare a verbal pitch that will entice the agents and publishers to read their material and to hopefully represent or publish them.
I have been offering pitch coaching for years – a natural result of two generations of entertainment lawyers and businessmen. My basic approach is to ask the writer to “Bait the hook to suit the fish.” A practical application of this principal is to train the writer to first state who they are in relation to the story and only then present the content of the book. The third part is to explain who the intended audience is and how the writer plans to reach them i.e., through their 5,000 Facebook friends. Agents and publishers only want to take on a new writer who has spent time investing in a website and creating a social media presence.
It is no longer enough for a non-fiction writer to have a good book – he or she must be actively involved in their own promotion and marketing! The free classes offered throughout the weekend at Author101 University help teach writers these necessary skills.
The goal is to write a non-fiction “best-seller” that gets your name known so that the rest of your books have an easier path to success.
Several of my students after tweaking their pitches, reported garnering serious interest from agents and publishers. One writer came over in tears and announced that Bill Gladstone, agent extraordinaire, had agreed to represent her savvy book on a little known aspect of retirement – and blamed it on my suggestions. I laughed and said, “You can’t make a good sauce if the beef isn’t the real deal,” and we hugged and jumped up and down for joy!
Remember that old NY Lottery chestnut: “You’ve gotta be in it to win it!”