WEEK 06 - #VoidDeckWriter: Putting a Pitch Package Together
6th week into 2021 - After sending a number of pitch packages to various literary agents over the last month, there are few things we as writers can keep handy to make the process a lot less painful.
6th week into 2021 - how’s everyone feeling? Before I continue though, I’d like to wish all of you a happy Lunar New Year!
In a way, visiting and engaging with extended (or non-extended) family can feel a little bit like pageantry. Any of these questions sound familiar?
“Did you lose / gain weight?” “Where is your partner? Why don’t you have one?” “How much are you earning at your job?” “Can your job support you well?”
Admittedly, I don’t have the snappy comebacks for all of you. However, I believe this can somehow parallel experiences while we, as writers, try to pitch or sell our stories to agents or publishers.
After sending a good number of pitch packages to various literary agents over the last month, there are few things we as writers can keep handy to make the process a lot less painful.
And that’s what the #VoidDeckWriter wants to talk about today.
Do you feel like festivals end up becoming “pitching sessions” for you? Let me know in the comments!
Often, pitching your manuscript is not going to be a case of throwing a document at the publisher or agent with the hopes that the full piece will endear them to you. In fact, publishers and agents get hundreds (or thousands) of pitches a day. And we’ve seen how many books even the major publishers release in a year.
If you’re an author who self-publishes, having a pitch package is useful as well. Distributors, bookstores, and even the online marketplace need your book in snippets and images. Anything that helps capture the attention of your ideal reader in a few seconds.
So here’s a list (and some tips) on how you can prep your pitch package, so that you won’t delay or scramble the next time you decide to apply for a grant, pitch to a publisher / agent, or are excited to upload your book and get it onto an online marketplace as soon as possible.
PREPPING YOUR PITCH PACKAGE
Typically, a pitch package contains three main components - the work, the pitch, and the supporting documents.
This is what you want to publish. Or sell. This is the product you’re trying to push to a buyer, whether it’s with an agent, a publisher, or straight to a reader. For this aspect, there are two main components:
Your Full Manuscript
Your first 100 pages polished
Like I mentioned, agents and publishers get way more manuscripts than they can count. You’re going to have to depend on your opening pages (usually up to the first 100 or the first three (3) chapters) to deliver the punches. Then, if publishers, agents, or editorial consultancies are interested in your pitch, they’d like to see full manuscripts. So before you even consider pitching, ensure that your manuscript is complete (if you’re rewriting, I’d advise you pitch as long as you can finish the rewrite within a couple of months – that’s the average time organisations take to get back to you).
This is the “how” you sell. Typically, this the cover / query letter section of sending your manuscript for consideration. As someone who also struggles with cover letters, I got this list of components by looking at tips or examples shown on Pitch Wars:
Pitch Line (25-words)
Comparison Titles to Your Book
They call it an elevator pitch for a reason. Keep it concise and impactful. (Tip: Dig deep into the core of your story or your world - those can help!) The synopsis is also your reader’s gateway into your book before they decide whether or not they want to click the buy button. Again, you want to present the most authentic experience with the fewest amount of words.
Comparison titles, genres, and ideal readers help agents and publishers visualise the ways they can sell your book. Considering that your manuscript is new to the market, they are going to need as much help as they can get with imagining your book as it comes out. For self-published authors, these components help with search engine optimization and tapping into audiences who might not have heard your name just yet!
This is just a sample component list for a cover / query letter to an agent or publisher. You can also check out other examples or tips in Pitch Wars!
The Supporting Documents
Sometimes, agents or publishers ask for a few things to get to know you as a writer and a person. These can be requests for (but not limited to):
Updated Writer’s CV
Updated Writer’s Portfolio
Core of your Book’s World
At the end of the day, READ THE FORMATTING GUIDELINES. Agents, publishers, and readers have these guidelines to aid their processes. Therefore, make it easier for your audience to consume your work. The future you, waving at you from your desired point of success, will thank you for it.
Have you experienced particularly interesting pitch requirements lately? What do you think of this list? Let me know in the comments!
Take this time to get to know your book more. Not as a creator, but your ideal reader. Immerse yourself in the world you’ve created and who knows? There might be snippets of the story that become that spark, pushing your book to the forefront.
Disclaimer: This is not a checklist to fit square pegs into round holes. I want all of you to be as authentic as possible when it comes to marketing your book. However, this checklist is to give you a glimpse of how we can get a foot into the industry. And in turn, we can approach this more strategically.
While nicely-formatted pitch packages don’t guarantee a sale at all times, it helps to be prepared!
That’s it from the #VoidDeckWriter. Take care and see you all next week!
P/S - Would you like me to do a more in-depth post on how I prep my pitch packages? Let me know in the comments!