How to Write the Perfect Pitch to Sell Your Novel In Person

Welcome to our weekly guest column by Ezra Barany, the Book Mentor and author of the bestselling novel The Torah Codes. He offers indie novelists important tips, entirely under our control, to help our books be discovered by readers all over the world. This week he focuses on how to write the perfect pitch to sell your novel in person.

***

Have you ever noticed how you might meet an author at a party who pitch his or her book by saying, “Buy my book.”

You may be tempted to respond, “My name’s Frank. It’s a pleasure to meet you, too. I’m going to get more punch, now.”

And yet, on the other end of the spectrum, there are authors who are so afraid of pitching and selling their book that they are embarrassed to mention their novel at all.

There is a middle ground. This blog post will show you how to get your potential readers excited at the idea of reading your book. Yes, I’m going to help you write the perfect pitch to sell your novel in person.

Just so we’re all clear, in this context, a pitch is something you say to get people curious about your book, so they will say, “Oh!  Tell me more!” and eventually buy your book.

Every time I use this method people say with enthusiasm,, “I’m going ——

By the end of this post, you will be able to write a pitch. So, please post your pitch along with a link to your book, and I’ll chime in with my excellent awesome feedback.

Imagine you’re at a party meeting different people for the first time. If your goal were to court a lady, your conversation wouldn’t start, “Ha, ha! You’re so funny!… What do you do?… Want to go out for a cup of coffee?… It’s a pleasure to meet you… Hi, my name’s Frank.” Right?

Each moment of the conversation requires an appropriate order to what you might say. Similarly, when you meet someone and think they might be interested in your book, each part of the conversation requires a different kind of pitch.

“Hi,” someone at a party says to you. “I’m Moshe, a dentist. What do you do?”

So what do you say?

Well, you prepare ahead of time the 6 pitches below, and you will use many of them to sell you book one on one in a social setting.

I present them in the order I recommend you use them, from shortest to longest.

I will share with you how to craft a:

  • #1: Clear Message Formula
  • #2: High Concept Formula
  • #3: What If? Formula or Log Line
  • #4: Elevator Pitch Formula
  • #5: Credibility Pitch Formula
  • #6: Call to Action Formula

Usually, I find that all I need to say is the Clear Message, the High Concept, and the Credibility formula before the person I’m talking to writes down my name and book title.

At that point, and ONLY at that point, I hand her a bookmark. She’s developed a genuine interest in the book, so the bookmark is a welcome sight, and she appreciates not having to write down the info.

Here we go!

#1

Clear Message Formula**

  • Your genre
  • Your audience
  • Your audience’s desired result or experience: what they want
  • Your intended action upon your readers

Example:

Genre = Thrillers
Audience = Jewish Adults
Audience’s Desired Experience = Page-turning Excitement
My Intended Experience for Them = Challenge Their Beliefs

“Hi, I’m Ezra. I write page-turning thrillers for Jewish adults that challenge their beliefs in a fun way.”

“Really? What’s the name of one of your books?”

**For expanded instructions on the Clear Message formula, read this post written by Beth Barany, my beautiful bride and amazing book coach, without whom this post here would never have been completed!

 

#2

High Concept Formula 

[Famous book or movie] meets [famous book or movie]
[Specific version or type] of [famous book or movie]

Example 1: Lara Croft meets The Lord of the Rings
Example 2: A Jewish version of The Da Vinci Code

“My most recent book is called The Torah Codes. It’s a Jewish version of The Da Vinci Code.

“Wow! So, like, what’s it about?”

#3

What If? Formula or Log Line (Under 25 words)

What if [protagonist] [unwanted experience]?

OR

One-line clear sentence conjuring conflict and emotion

Example 1: What if Peter Pan grew up?
Example 2: During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.

“My book asks the question ‘What if you found your name and birth date were encoded in the Bible?’ ”

“Intriguing! Tell me more!”

 

#4

Elevator Pitch Formula

  1. Situation: (Also called the Initial Action or Premise, this is the beginning of the plot.)
  2. Main Character(s): (Self-explanatory)
  3. Primary Objective: (At first, what does your main character want?)
  4. Antagonist Or Opponent: (or Central Conflict. Who or what is keeping your main characters from getting what they want?)
  5. Disaster That Could Happen: (What’s the worst that could happen, and/or what does your character want next? Often phrased as a question.)

Example:
1. Abandoned on his relatives’ doorstep as an infant,
2. Harry Potter
3. longs to understand where he came from and why he feels different.
4. He discovers that he is a wizard and that his parents were killed by Voldemort, a powerful and evil wizard,
5. who has been hunting for Harry, to kill him.

“A reclusive computer programmer, Nathan Yirmorshy, pounds out ones and zeros in the quiet of his home while his landlord secretly watches from behind a two-way mirror. When an intercepted note connects the landlord to a secret society, and a detective ends up dead, Nathan must abandon his home and everything familiar to him, open his heart to a tarot reader he has never met, and trust her with his life – just as the ancient scriptures have foretold.”

“Wow! Sounds interesting!

 

#5

Credibility Pitch Formula

List the reviews, awards, and best-seller status.

“It’s been doing really well! It’s been getting four and five-star reviews, it won an award at The Hollywood Book Festival, and it’s an Amazon bestseller in the US and the UK!”

“Incredible! I gotta read it!”

 

#6

Call to Action Formula

Provide a bookmark, business card, or item that has the name of the book and the websites which have the book available. Consider having your website or Amazon link turned into a QR code on the item in case they want to take a snapshot of the code with their iPhone to bookmark the website on their browser.

“Here’s a bookmark, it has all you need to find my book online.”

“Thanks! I’m going to get this as soon as I’m on the internet!”

 

Now it’s your turn! And as I said above, please post your pitch along with a link to your book, and I’ll chime in with my excellent awesome feedback.

***

Ezra Barany, author and mentorEzra Barany, an award-winning novelist and the bestselling author of The Torah Codes series, and is also a teacher and mentor.

For more about Ezra’s fiction, go to his website here: https://thetorahcodes.com/.

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9 Responses

  1. Maureen says:

    Hi Ezra,
    That is a very interesting exercise. I sat down to think about it carefully as I am hopeless at articulating briefly what I write about. I thought about my log lines and the text in my book trailer and came up with this….

    I write books for 10 to 12 year old children.

    Why would a rock stars child fake a a normal life online?

    Online you can be anyone you want to be. Tressa wants to be normal. Can she keep faking a normal life to her friend in the middle of a rock band tour when one of the rock stars goes missing? How do you keep a friendship when all you have is lies?
    http://www.craicthebook.com

    I can write about what I want to say, no problem, but when asked by someone what it is I write I get completely tongue tied, which for an extrovert teacher is really weird.
    Here in New Zealand we are famous for never acknowledging our own achievements or down playing our strengths. Recently we gave a state funeral to a man who described himself as a bee keeper all his life. He was the only living person in our country to have his face on a bank note. He had a knighthood for his good works building and funding hospitals and schools in Nepal and he happened to be the first person to climb Mt Everest…but he was a bee keeper…and that was good enough for him because you wouldn’t want to be thought a bragger!

    It makes the whole marketing of your skills and products a real problem…because first you need to get over this big hurdle of self perception…are you bragging?

    Maureen

  2. Ezra Barany says:

    Hi Maureen,

    That reminds me of a time when an English teacher in Japan had an exercise where the students had to say, “I have seen…” and fill in the blank with something amazing. But none of the students felt comfortable doing it because it made them out to be a bragger in their culture. The teacher’s fix was to make the starting words be “These eyes have seen…” By making it about their eyes and not about them, the students opened up easily.

    The truth is that if you’re concerned about being thought of as a bragger, you’ll be perceived as one. But if you make it all about the person asking, they’ll feel the attention you’re giving them. “What if you were a rock star’s child and, while hiding your identity on line, the best friendship you created was built on lies?” That puts the attention off of you and on your fan-to-be.

    Another thing is that I occasionally tell people that I feel comfortable saying my book The Torah Codes is a great book because it was fashioned by a team of brilliant people! If I didn’t have all those great editors, cover designers, and contributors to my book, my novel would suck! Similarly, if your book becomes an award-winning bestseller, you can say, “I’m quite blessed to have had dozens of bright, brilliant people polish the novel so that it was able to win an award and become a bestseller.”

    Don’t brag. Just tell the truth in a way that makes other people shine along with your book. And perhaps instead of saying you write books for 10 to 12-year-old children, you can say, “I’m fortunate that my 10 to 12-year-old readers have been very kind to me by describing ‘Craic’ as, ‘funny,’ ‘exciting,’ and ‘the best book ever’. It’s quite an honor.”

    Love your website, by the way!

    For all of you reading this response, what are you waiting for? Check out http://www.craicthebook.com!

    Ezra

  3. Maureen says:

    Ezra,
    I never thought about it that way….so brilliant! Thank you… (speechless here in NZ)
    m

  4. chel says:

    This was soooo helpful. I’ve read dozens of articles on writing “the perfect pitch,” but this has been the best approach by far. Thank you for listing the various types of pitches, as well as pitch formulas.

  5. Beth Barany says:

    Chel, I’m so glad you like these pitch formulas! We think they work well too and use them all the time!

  6. Ezra Barany says:

    Outstanding, Chel! I’m glad these pitch formulas could help you. Feel free to connect with me on Facebook if you want to brainstorm ideas and ask questions!

  7. Carol Malone says:

    Hi Ezra, Here’s my attempts for my soon-to-be-released “Sunday Punch” the sequel to “Ladies Night.”
    Blog clear message: Carol writes stories that amuse, intrigue, and warm the heart.

    Clear Message:

    #1: Hi, I’m Carol. I write romantic suspense with a side of sports and dash of Noir to entice readers to jump into a front row seat for an action-packed thrill ride.

    OR

    #1: Carol writes romantic suspense sprinkled with the flavor of Noir and sports and invites readers to jump in a front seat for thrilling action.

    High Concept pitch for Sunday Punch:
    #2: Think The Big Heat meets Kid Galahad

    OR

    #2: Think LA Confidential meets Cinderella Man

    What if? Forumla or log line:
    #3: What if Detective Marc DeLuca can’t find out who’s murdering Mickey Cohen’s night watchmen after his new dame, Helene is kidnapped by them?

    OR

    #3: What if Helene is kidnapped by cops turned murderers? Will Detective Marc DeLuca be able to save her in time?

    Elevator Pitch Formula:

    #4: Marc DeLuca and Helene Dominick have finally found one another. Will their love survive detective’s turned murderers?

    OR

    #4: Detective Marc DeLuca has finally found the one in Helene Dominick. He can’d lose her to bad cops who have kidnapped his lady love.

    Credibility Pitch Formula:

    #5: My romantic suspense pulp-fiction boxing story, “Ladies Night,” has consistently gotten 4 and 5 Star Reviews. Stayed tuned for it’s trill ride sequal, “Sunday Punch.”

    OR

    #5: One reviewer said: “Carol, you accomplished what every good novelist should do; create characters that your reader can fall in love with. I really cared about Jimmy and Lindy, couldn’t put the book down until I knew that they were safe and happy. Your book now has a place of honor on my shelf among a few romance novels written by my late aunt Vicki Baum, author of ‘Grand Hotel.'”

    Call to Action Formula:
    I do have my “Ladies Night” business cards and they really catch the eye.

  1. February 22, 2012

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  2. March 2, 2012

    […] How to Write the Perfect Pitch to Sell Your Novel in Person by Ezra Barany — Ideas that will help you sell your book […]

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