Monday, May 9, 2011

Are You Ready to Tell People About Your Book?

Many of you already know that agents ask for different things in a query letter. Some simply ask for the query letter, some ask for the query and the first five pages, while others ask for the query, a synopsis, and the first three chapters. But what they ALL ask for is a well-written blurb that describes your book. Nathan Bransford, a former literary agent, discusses one-sentence, one-paragraph, and two-paragraph pitches here.
As difficult as writing a good query letter is, I'm finding that telling people about my book is harder than writing about it. To the point where, when someone asks what my book is about, I say, "It's about mermaids." They usually return this indulgent looks that tells me I should have at least added an expletive or two to make it more interesting, since I didn't take the time to manipulate my plot into an informal blurb. But writers, you NEED this. You need to be able to tell people about it, to make a memorable impression for reasons other than awkwardness.
Complete strangers who hear you talking to your daughter about your book. Bookstore managers with whom you're trying to arrange an in-store signing. Friends and frenemies, acquaintances, relatives and twice-removed cousins. You need to be able to pique their interest verbally, and sound freaking cool while doing it. You can fling a bagillion marketing dollars at your book, but word of mouth will always be more effective in selling it than the prettiest internet ad.
It will take practive. It might take some wine. But get ready. You should be the best person to ask about your book. "It's about mermaids" = writer fail. So, by the end of the week, I hereby promise to have an interesting informal-sounding pitch, AND I promise to use it on at least 10 new people.
What about you? Are you ready to tell people about your book?


  1. I actually have the one sentence thing down pat, but if asked to go into more detail . . . that can be scary. I end up sounding like a babbling idiot, lol.

    Great post, Anna :o)

  2. I seem to be better at the one sentence pitch than the actual synopsis. I HATE those. But I can usually get a little short blurb out there to try to pique some interest. I can't wait to see yours! I know it will ROCK because I've read your query. :)

  3. Yes!! This is so hard!! I can write a query or back-cover blurb (not perfectly yet, but at least I don't stammer), but verbally describing it? Ach! You don't want to sound like you memorized the back cover, but you don't want to go on forever, either.

    I'm excited to see your verbal pitch--I'm sure it will be great!

  4. Anna,
    I have given you an award! Come and claim the item at:

  5. I can't wait to hear how these people react!

  6. Angela, I'm so jealous. I wish I could do the one sentence thing. My single sentence always sounds cheesy and formal and rehearsed. You GO girl! :)

    Anita, again, jealous. And you know what? Since you and Angela have both mastered the one sentence pitch, I hereby challenge you to post it here for all to see and learn! :) (uh, I'm still working on mine, but it's only Tuesday).

    Robin, I know I know I know! What should we do? Practice in front of a mirror? Hmmmm....

    Jenny! Thankyousoverymuch! *sniffles* I'll be by shortly! :)

    Mandie, what about my tweet last night? "It's about mermaids, forbidden love, hormones, cheesecake, upchuck, and albinos." That pretty much sums up my story, yes?

  7. I have talked about my book(s). But it never, never, never feels comfortable.

  8. "They usually return this indulgent looks that tells me" these indulgent looks?

    "It will take practive." Practice?

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