Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG: Guide to Publishing and Beyond

It's finally October and in celebration of the third anniversary of IWSG we're putting together a free ebook titled, IWSG: A Guide to Publishing and Beyond. Today on our usual first Wednesday posting of the month, the group is sharing the post we've submitted to the book. You should know by now that the entire IWSG universe is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. You can find the entire list of participants here and if you haven't joined by now, what are you waiting for? 



Are You Ready to Submit?

The time has come for you to send your creation out into the world of publishing. Before you submit a query or pitch to an editor or agent at a conference you need to be prepared with your sales pitch. In the world of publishing, there are four general pitches you should prepare ahead of time.

The Logline.
This one sentence pitch should include five key factors. The who, the what, the when/where, the how and the why. Use this example sentence and fill it in with your unique information and then work with it to make it more sensible and interesting.
In a (setting/when/where) a (protagonist/who) has a (difficulty caused by an antagonist/the what) and (faces the conflict/how) as the tries to (achieve the goal/why.)
In a face to face meeting, this simple line could lead to a lengthier interview or request for a longer description.

The Elevator Pitch
This is the nickname for a five to six line pitch such as you might use at a conference if you luck out and run into an editor in the elevator or at the bar. The easiest way to do this is expand on your logline. A sentence with the setting, one about the protagonist, another about the difficulty or challenge, the fourth about facing the conflict and the last should be why facing it is important or the protagonist’s goal.
The elevator pitch also comes in handy as a guide to the short paragraph usually requested in a query letter to briefly describe your story. Make each sentence count.

Short Synopsis
Often times an agent or publisher will ask for a one page summary of your novel. Include the five elements mentioned above for the shorter pitches and give each a bit more attention. This is a chance to add all those unique elements of your setting, your characters and the difficulties facing them. Even though a page might seem very long compared to the elevator pitch, make each sentence count. You’ll also be judged on your writing. Are you using active verbs and avoiding those adverbs? Include anything that makes your characters different and compelling. Don’t forget to include the ending or conclusion of the story. Editors expect to find out how the conflict is resolved when reading a synopsis.

Longer Synopsis or Outline
Sometimes an editor will put a page count on this request. It might be five to six pages or even as long as twelve. Or they might not specify on the length. The easiest way to do it is make each chapter a short paragraph. If the paragraph for a certain chapter seems frivolous or uninteresting that may give you a clue that you should cut some scenes from your book. Even in a long synopsis you don’t have to include everything or mention every secondary character. Again remember your writing style and voice are being judged at the same time as the content of your story is. Don’t make your outline a dry dissertation of facts. Remember when you were in school and had to give those dreaded book reports. Report with all the enthusiasm of sharing the most favorite book you’ve ever read.

Be prepared with all four types of pitches before trying to sell your book. Chances are you’re going to need them sooner or later. The logline and the elevator pitch will come in handy at book signings when readers stop by and ask what your book is about. Once you’re prepared your pitches, impose on your critique partners to evaluate them and make it as perfect as you can.

Are you experienced writing pitches? Do you find them difficult? Have you submitted your article to the book?

44 comments:

  1. And what nobody tells you is that if you go the self pub route, you need all of those too for promotional purposes. Often small pubs will use your summary as well. Great definitions!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is excellent! I've found the logline is the easiest, the synopsis, not so much...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just spent months writing the query and synopsis for my latest. Condensing things down to one paragraph, or even one page, is so hard. But it's nice when you finally feel like you got all the right elements in there working together for maximum impact.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The elevator pitch is so important. And it has to be delivered with confidence and enthusiasm. Because if you aren't excited, no one else will be, either.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love creating loglines. The synopsis thought (short and long) I despise! But we have to know how to write them all. Great article!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you so so much. This is exactly what I needed for my next step.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Susan! What great info! I can see that your excellent post and others today are going to add to my writing To Do list big time. I've never done a writing elevator pitch, but as a former union leader, I know the concept well! And yes, I've submitted my article (with trepidation because I'm such a beginner). But I made myself put me out there. I love the IWSG because I'm meeting encouraging, knowledgeable people like you!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Susan - this is a great post for the Guide ... IWSG will be a huge boon to so many aspiring authors ...

    Cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great advice! I love the suggestion about the logline. I always have the most trouble with that.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is very solid advice. I'm going to bookmark this for later use. Thank you for sharing it with us, muchly appreciated!!

    Elsie
    co-host IWSG

    ReplyDelete
  11. Some of them are harder than others I find, but thankfully I can just rant away, so something comes to me. haha great advice

    ReplyDelete
  12. The elevator pitch. I definitely used this one in the past to get my agent. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for the pitch help. I've bookmarked this for later reference :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Awesome post. One of the best I've read today.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I used to dread the querying process so much and after constant rejection letters I gave it up and I am relieved. Preparing all those pitches used to stress me out.

    Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great info. All of these bits are needed no matter how you publish. We all have to learn to master them.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for the great advice! As much as I dislike writing these things, I know how essential they are.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great post. Thanks for putting it down so succinctly. As a writer who has gone the Indy Publishing route, for now, I think the log line (like your log line but before the blurb on the back of the book) and blurb (Elevator Pitch)are equally as important. No one will read your novel if they don't like your short description of it. So no matter which way you're going, you need to have these things under your belt!

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is such excellent advice, Susan. I'm very excited about the book. You guys rock.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am bookmarking this post. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great advice! And you do need them all in some form no matter how you publish (or just talk about your book).

    ReplyDelete
  22. Good stuff here, Susan. I need to work on all four of these. I think if we can write more succinctly (for this sort of thing), it will improve our writing (over-all). Thanks for the guidelines!

    ReplyDelete
  23. That's a great run-down. Sadly, due to my complete lack of verbosity, my short and long synopsis are usually very similar :-)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Great stuff, Susan, as always!! It's so good to see a practical guide on submissions. I'll share this far and wide :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Great tips and things all writers need. It will make a great addition to the book.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I've never tried to do this but I have found that I do have problems when it comes to summarize stories in a few sentences. Very good advice here!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you for the concrete advice on the log line and elevator pitch--very helpful! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Oh gosh, this is such a good post and totally necessary too. Wonderful addition to the ebook for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'm in the middle of submitting right now. I disliked writing the synopsis very much.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Some great points here. I hate writing them.

    ReplyDelete
  31. ooooh now this is a great list! You rock! :D

    ReplyDelete
  32. WOW, Susan! This is some VERY useful information for us here!

    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Superb info, Susan. I have a conference coming up next month. I won't be pitching agents (my agent will be happy to hear that), but I need to get a logline and elevator pitch together for that dreaded conversation starter: What's your book about?

    Thank you for the reminder.

    VR Barkowski

    ReplyDelete
  34. I had a literary agent phone call win to look over my query. it was so amazing and informative!

    ReplyDelete
  35. A lot of great info here! I used to hate writing the dreaded synopsis :/. Queries were pretty fun, though!
    Ninja Girl

    ReplyDelete
  36. These are really great descriptions of what you need. I especially like the logline one. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi Susan, this is such an amazing post. I am kinda of okay with the logline but I suck at the synopsis. The longer the synopsis I have to write, the more dry and boring it becomes. Thanks for this super informative post.Will keep all the tips in mind for my current WIP.

    ReplyDelete
  38. You're so right that you'll continue to use the logline, elevator pitch & summary well beyond just getting your book accepted for publication.

    ReplyDelete
  39. The dreaded elevator pitch gives me the cold shakes! Thanks for all the great tips!

    ReplyDelete
  40. This is useful information with a good presentation. Well done!

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
  41. Good idea to run your pitches by your critique group. They're there to see you to success, not just read your work.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I have to do several of these every time I sign a contract and get a welcome package from a publisher. I'm getting better at these.

    ReplyDelete