The Personally Branded Pitch
As any basic marketing class will tell you, there are 5 - P - s of Marketing to keep in mind as you consider offering a product or service for others to buy. Those P's are:
Product - or what you're selling
Placement - or the channels in which you're selling your product (Online? In stores? Etc.)
Promotion - or how you're getting the word out about your product (Advertising? Publicity? Word of mouth?)
Price - or how much your product costs And, for those who subscribe to branding as an important element of marketing,
Position - or what differentiates you from your competition in the marketplace.
When you pitch your manuscript to an editor or agent, you are marketing your story and yourself, pure and simple. Therefore, the savvy Personal Brander will keep in mind the following 5 Ps of the Personal Branded Pitch to maximize your efforts in pitching your work.
Product: Your product is your book, and it is by far the most important element of your pitch. Know your story thoroughly. Once you've developed a concise and engaging blurb, you must be prepared to answer questions like - and then what happens? - and - how do they beat the evil overlord/save the farm/fall in love? - These questions may require you to know not only how your story begins, but how it ends, and why what happens in the middle is important. Be ready for them!
Placement: Your placement is where your book fits into the market. Know your genre, and your potential readership. Be able to share why you think your book will be of interest to readers, whether based on current market trends, popular events happening in the news, or simply because your book explores timeless themes that never grow old. If your book is similar to another author's tone or style, explain how - and more importantly, how your writing goes beyond that similarity to be fresh and unique.
Promotion: This is often an overlooked aspect of your work - and can be considered a controversial one. If you choose to consider your book's promotion as part of your responsibility as an author (and I strongly encourage you to do so!), you should have ideas in mind for a promotional plan for your work. That means coming up with ways to publicize your book - whether by marketing giveaways, a website, a publicity campaign that includes signings or seminars, reader giveaways, contests and even blogging. Although some authors would disagree, your work does not end with writing the book; you must be a part of getting it to your readers. You are a partner with your agent and editor - a team working together for the success of your work. Demonstrate your understanding of that in your pitch, and you will set yourself apart from many writers - both new and established.
Price: What is an editor or agent buying? Your book. And what is your price? Don't forget this part, even though there may be times when you would willingly PAY someone just to publish the book of your heart. You are an author, and your work is necessary to what an editor and agent does. Whether a publishing house is willing to pay $3,000 or $300,000 for your book, you've worked hard to bring that book to market. Present it as a work of high value - not only to the editor, but to your ultimate readers - and you will take a first important step toward securing the book sale of your dreams.
Personal Brand: Before you walk into a Pitch, it's important to focus on your Personal Brand. You are an author, and a professional, and you are not here by chance. To present yourself most effectively, think about how you look and how you express yourself. Are you demonstrating that you are a professional author? Does your manner effectively convey your passion as a writer and your commitment to your story, as well as your dedication to your work? What sets you apart from other authors - your unique writing style, your setting, your tone or - ? At the end of a long day of listening to pitches, the exhausted editor or agent will remember you most because of your product and your Personal Brand.
Pitching to an editor or agent is sometimes nerve-wracking, often educational, and always an incredible opportunity to meet new people and share your vision for your work. By mastering the 5 P's of the Personal Branded Pitch, you will help ensure that your pitch positions you effectively as an author worth pursuing by an editor or agent.
For those of you about to pitch your work this conference season, I wish you the best of fortune! If you have any specific questions, please don't hesitate to email me.