Constructing the Perfect Pitch

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There are some basics elements you should aim to include in your book pitch, regardless whether you’re marketing your editor, publisher, the public, or a friend.

Selling your story is a vital part of any writer – that is if you want to start making a living from your vocation. And while it may feel like your hacking out a small piece of your soul in trying to water down your book baby to a paragraph, it is an essential skill.

And just like writing – practice makes perfect.

Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle Especially in your genre. Look at what is successful, what grabs your attention. Also know your target market. If you are pitching to publishers or professionals, there is usually a criteria that they are looking for.

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Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 08 by Casey Carlisle Most of the time there is a detailed list for criteria of submissions, when they are accepting submissions, and who to address the work to. Don’t get off on the wrong foot looking unprofessional without discovering the basics in their submission process. Some publishing houses won’t accept submissions from an author, and you’ll need to find a literary agent. Just about every professional in this field will not accept unedited work. Give yourself the best chance at success and get your work professionally edited. Have multiple versions of your submission – and get feedback on those to hone out which is the best example of your work, your brand, and your professional standards.

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Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 09 by Casey Carlisle Know your niche, genre and target market. Compare your work to already successful publications. ‘My novel is a mash-up of Twilight meets Pride and Prejudice aimed at the 20-35y/o market who love paranormal romance.’ For example. Be precise. No-one wants to hear that it fills nearly every genre and everyone from the ages of 10 to 80 would love to read it : that is a marketing nightmare and impossible to sell.

Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 10 by Casey Carlisle – a story idea is the concept of your novel. The bones of the character and his/her journey. Your topic will be the subtext and the lessons your main character have learned over the duration of the story. What is the unique, curiosity-sparkling take that is going to reel your reader in?

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Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 11 by Casey Carlisle Editors and Publishers are busy folk, so you want your pitch to be organised, logical, polished to perfection and highlighting all the right points in a paragraph or two. Mention exciting key aspects of your story. And above all – proofread it up the wazoo!

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Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 12 by Casey Carlisle Get as much constructive criticism as you can to perfect your submission.

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And lastly – Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 13 by Casey Carlisle I know it’s easier said than done. Rejection can kill the creative spirit and any confidence that you have. But things move very slowly in the publishing industry. Be patient. Be professional. Be tenacious.

And good luck 😉

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Prompts and Getting the Job Done

I’ve never had a problem with writer’s block – I’m quite capable of getting words on paper. What I struggle with is completing projects…

Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, I get bombarded with ideas for other books or writing projects. So much so I have an extensive back catalogue of things to write, manuscripts to finish off. But my list of completed projects is dismally low. So I try and find ways to keep the momentum and inspiration going to get to the point where I can finally type “The End” but it’s not always easy.

Here are the top ten ways that have helped:

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Basically re-immersing yourself into the story.

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This also helps me in developing plot, character and arcs… I like to think of it as dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s.

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In the past on a certain W.I.P, the creative flow just stopped. I could have kept on writing to the scripted plot, but the narrative was becoming uninteresting, and I was finding it hard to keep the motivation going for the project. So I daydreamed about a number of what-ifs, and ended up with a major story arc that added the zing I was looking for to complete the story. So sometimes it pays to step back from your plot and ‘pants’ it for a while – you may turn up storytelling gold.

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I always have a collection of things for a writing project. Pictures of people for the cast, high school timetables to track the passing of time in the YA novel, snapshots of places, rooms, a collection of dialogue and quotes… I like the tactile experience in world building before I even start to plot out my story. Live in that headspace for a while, that way penning out my story comes very easy. And when I need to re-visit that place to stir up my creative juices, or think through a roadblock, it is easy to step back in to my characters’ world and tap in to some mojo.

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Some of my best ideas have come out of a conversation on my W.I.P. – even at the conceptual stage. You need to stimulate your creativity, and bouncing ideas of others is a great way to gauge if you are on to something or not. Plus, if you’re talking to the type of person who is your demographic, it’s a double whammy of goodness – market research and inspiration in the same place!

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This always gets me going. Designing an interim book cover and promotional material helps to build realism that the manuscript is drawing to a close. It also helps switch your brain into marketing mode. A sentence that would be a great quote with a picture, or a tag line for your book. Eye-catching images or graphics for websites or title pages. It also helps you to view your manuscript objectively – identifying the key components that are great hooks for selling your book – a ballsy heroine, an underwater seascape, a new magic system, an epic love story… these will become very important when you are getting to the stage of pitching and publishing your work.

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I suffer from an all-too-fast brain, and slow fingers. I can never type fast enough. And often skip parts of the narrative that put my story in context so it all makes sense. Like I was talking about the landscape whizzing by my main character in one scene, but neglected to state she was driving in a car – otherwise someone could have assumed she’d suddenly developed the ability to fly… most of the time it’s little obvious things like that you pick up after taking a hiatus from your manuscript. Beta readers can also provide this kind of feedback, but I like to have my work as polished as I can get it before handing it over for critique, so I can focus on flow, pace, character development, relatability, engagement, and predictability.

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I get a buzz when I can tick off a box. And with a novel being such a massive project that can last (in some cases) years, getting that high from a small milestone in the process is invaluable to keep the motivation going. Plus, I am always working on more than one project at a time, and it helps me to track where I am on each manuscript at a glance.

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Many, many times I’ve seen that glazed look fall over people’s faces when they ask me what I’m writing. I’m so excited, I just keep rabbiting on and on… So a succinct, attention-grabbing pitch – A SHORT ONE – is key! Working on it early gives you time to fine tune it and test it out on family and friends, because when you start to deal with the public (potential customers) and industry professionals (agents and publishers) you know you’ll have it down pat and can speak with confidence. It also helps to stop you from veering off on tangents with your plot if you ‘pants.’

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For some, this can feel like being dragged over broken glass. It’s foreign and scary. But if you want to be a career writer it is imperative that you educate yourself about the industry. Look into how a book is made, the types of finishes, what end pages are; What agents you could contact for representation and what their guidelines for submission are. Publishing houses that market books similar to what you are writing, and what they do to promote them. Send out samples to editors to find the one that works best with you (and in a price range you can afford). Collect promotion and marketing ideas – there’s a lot of things you can do yourself that cost nothing but your time. You NEED to have your own marketing plan; a publisher will not do all the work for you. Check out local resources, writers’ groups, bookstore launches… the list is only as limited as your research.  It’s important for you to know what sells, how it sells, and how to navigate the professional landscape you’ll be entering once you’ve completed your manuscript. Handing over your novel to a publisher, or self-publishing online alone will not return many sales. You’ve put all that work into writing a masterpiece, do it some justice and make sure you give it the best opportunity to shine.

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Every little bit helps 🙂

Happy writing and all the best on your journey!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What an Author can do – apart from writing a book.

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You’ve written your novel and want to start marketing it… here’s some things to help you on your way…

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Start honing your sales speak – when people start to ask what your book is about have a brief 30 second pitch to entice your listener. You want to excite them ad encourage them to buy your book. If they start asking questions once you’re done, you know you are on the right track.

Make some bullet points about the protagonist, the challenges she faces; your genre and target market. Think of the blurbs you see on the back of books… you want the speech to be punchy, give all the relevant information and leave your listener wanting more.

Memorise it! Say it over and over out loud so it becomes second nature to talk about without stammering. Remember to make eye contact and feel excited to talk about your book – your listeners will feed off that energy.

Keep it short. Don’t drone on afterwards. Have some business cards, or bookmarks on you at all times with links and information where to buy your book, or visit your author’s page online. And leave it there! Make your listener eager to jump on line and purchase your baby 😉

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Attend events. Be it writing or publishing seminars, author get togethers, or events that are associated with your book (i.e. spiritual expos if your book is about that topic, talks at the library, festivals…) Socialise! Make friends, talk to people. I know it’s daunting, but if you want people to buy your book you’re going to have to put yourself out there. Or in the least have some friends and family come with you and do it too. Put that elevator pitch into practice.

Usually when you meet someone and ask what they do for a living, they’ll ask you back. If you say “I’m a writer.” You are always going to get asked what you write – there’s you in. Don’t blow it!

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Get artistic. Take some pictures, of your book with people and at interesting places. Get your friends and online followers to post their own. Create promotional banners and gifs. Make a bookmark. Design a big poster. The ore material you have at your disposal, the more chance you have at placing it somewhere to direct traffic to your website or online store to make a purchase. Get creative too. There are no rules to say you have to stick to tried and true methods. It’s possible you’ll reach a wider market.

You need to spend time talking about your book. Don’t just do it once, or for the month after the book is finished… marketing and promoting your book is something you need to do from here on out. There are free and inexpensive ways to get the word out. Community television, newspapers and radio, podcasts, social media, bulletin boards, explore and search these places out. And not just in your local community, look everywhere, other towns, states or even other countries. Your only as limited as your imagination.

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Maybe look into writing with someone else, or guest post on a blog. The point of this is to tap into a different audience, reach their followers. Maybe if you have a group of writers you meet with regularly you could publish an anthology: the combined force of all of your followers/fans/readers extends your reach and sales. (Especially if the other writers have a preferred different genre and target market to yours.)

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This is the flagship of your armada! Create a website. Make sure it is interesting, attractive and has all the relevant information about you, your book, and where to buy it. Have a subscribe button and collect email addresses so you can have a database of fans to sell your next book to, and email out alerts of events and upcoming releases.

You don’t have to spend money either, or be a web genius. It can be as simple as setting up a WordPress blog, or facebook page. Explore other options, there are many free web building sites, and some with low cost hosting. Take the time to do a little research and find something that will fit into your capabilities and budget.

But if you have the funds to get someone else to do it for you, make use of it. It will free up valuable time you could be doing other marketing activities – or writing the next book!

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Don’t just rely on selling your book through Amazon.com – have an online store on your website. Or get creative… see if there are a bunch of authors in your local area and host an event at a bookstore or library. There’s nothing to say you can’t set up a stall at your local markets either. The more places you can find to place your product, the better. Contact independent bookstores, they love to support local talent and will most likely create an event and promote your book off their own bat.

Start local and then keep on expanding.

Selling and promoting is like a snowball rolling down a hill, it will keep getting bigger the more motion you give it. This is definitely a case where the more effort you put in, the more rewards you will get in return.

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If you need financial help in publishing costs if you are not signed to a publisher, don’t let that stop you. Seek out some sponsorship. You could promote a book store or local business in the front or back of your novel (and on your website). Maybe start a gofundme account and link it from your website. Post excerpts or the first few chapters as a teaser and people can donate to see the book published to finish the book.

e-publishing can be free too. You make sure you read the fine print before clicking accept. There are many pitfalls that can leech away your income.

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You are only limited by your imagination!

It was good enough to write a book, so it’s good enough to come up with some creative ideas to engage an audience into buying it.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.