How to Pitch Your Novel + a Sample Pitch by Laurel Osterkamp
Let’s welcome back Laurel Osterkamp as she shares with us “How to Pitch Your Novel + a Sample Pitch.” Enjoy!
You’ve finished your novel, and now it’s time to put it out there. Perhaps you’re going the indie/self-publishing route, but if you’re not, you’ll need a pitch. I know a few writers who feel that pitches are harder to write than the novels themselves. In some ways, they are! But there’s a formula you can follow to make it easier. Whether you’re querying an agent or a publisher who takes unsolicited queries, you’ll want to write three to four paragraphs, and follow these guidelines:
Give the title and length of your novel, the genre, and a one line pitch with comparisons to other novels, authors, or movies. Be very sharp and precise. Explain why you’re writing to the specific agent/publisher.
Paragraph #2 & 3:
Summarize your novel as concisely as you can – the who, what, where, how, and why. Make it simple and easy. Focus on major plot points and create a sense of urgency. What and whom your story is about should be super clear.
Give a short author bio with impressive information and a touch of personal info as well.
Okay, now for my example. This is for a novel that I JUST FINISHED, so I’m using this column as an opportunity to hammer out my own pitch. If any of you have feedback, I’d love to hear it!
Complete at 95,000 words, TEMPORARY TITLE* is a compelling tale about love, longing, and following your dreams. This romantic page-turner will appeal to fans of contemporary women’s fiction and of authors Emily Henry and Colleen Hoover. It’s also similar to (book titles or authors) whom I know (you publish or represent.)
Rylee Lynch has dreams. She longs to leave Bemidji, MN, and join her sorta-boyfriend in Southern California, where she can attend grad school and write the next great American novel. But family illness, the residue of a decade-old tragedy, and Covid 19 have waylaid her plans. Carson Meyers also has dreams. He’s been stuck in Bemidji for years, but he planned to attend Harvard and was going to try to discover the cure for cancer. Now, he’s guarding a secret and grasping to keep his humble life from falling apart. As a last resort, both Rylee and Carson both enroll in a grad-level fiction writing course at Bemidji State University, and their mutual attraction is undeniable.
But it’s definitely not a match made in heaven; between the two of them, they have more baggage than a luggage carousel at Minneapolis International Airport. So they become secret “writing partners with benefits,” and they agree: falling in love is not an option. A no-strings sexual relationship shouldn’t be a problem, but almost instantly, it is. Soon enough, promises are broken, secrets are betrayed, and their hearts just might break beyond repair.
As for me, my novel, Favorite Daughters was published by Black Rose Writing in August, 2022. I have also published short fiction with in online literary journals such as MetaWorker, Bright Flash Literary Review, Idle Ink, and Abandon Literary Journal. My self-published books, Following My Toes, Starring in the Movie of My Life, November Surprise, The Holdout, The Next Breath, and Just Like the Bronte Sisters, have received awards and rave reviews from readers, bloggers, and established sites such as Midwest Book Review, RT Book Reviews, USA Today Books, and Kirkus. My 2015 novel, The Standout, was a Kindle Scout Winner and published by Kindle Press. Recently, I completed my master’s degree in Creative Writing through Lindenwood University, and I used my experience with writing literary fiction, popular fiction, and self-publishing, to inspire TEMPORARY TITLE*.
*Okay: There are two possible titles that I’m considering. POPULAR FICTION or LOVE IN A NORTHERN TOWN. If any of you have thoughts or preferences, please share. Thanks!
I hope my guidelines on How to Pitch Your Novel + a Sample Pitch helps you write your own. One more tip: find the book description of a novel that’s similar to yours on Amazon, and see how its plot is described. But most importantly, don’t be afraid to write a pitch. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but ultimately, you’ve done the hard part (writing the novel.) Now it’s time to show off your brilliant work, so get ready to ring your own bell!
About the Author
Laurel Osterkamp is from Minneapolis, where she teaches and writes like it’s going out of style. Her short fiction has been featured in Tangled Locks Literary Journal, Bright Flash Literary Journal, and Metawoker Lit, among other places. Her latest novel Favorite Daughters was recently released by Black Rose Writing. (Click here to see the novel on Amazon.)